The Studio Walls | For Photographers | Michigan Newborn Photographer

July 14, 2018

When I moved to my current studio in February 2017, I knew one thing… the background stands I used in my home basement, were NOT coming with me. I have always hated them.. for 12 years I fought them, no matter what ones I bought they always seemed flimsy. Not to mention that they can cause toddlers to trip, or a toddler pushes on the background and thinks its solid… and nope falls back against the drop – thus getting scared and the session was over. So I had to come up with a solution!

I am a member of several Facebook groups and people were starting to kick some interesting ideas around. The first idea was a thin metal strip screwed to the wall about 1 inch wide.  I was so excited over this idea, that night I seen it I went and installed it in my studio… I was like yes this is it! This is how I get around the background stand… just one problem – the metal strip was thin, and I have backgrounds of all sizes. So this meant I had to either buy all the same size drop (which does not work for family) or put several metal strips on my wall. I didn’t like either solution.

The second option was offered up by Mary Kriss of Mary Kriss Photography. She had put bigger metal on her wall about the size of a an opened pizza box. I thought this was better as I could move the drop up and down depending on the size of the drop, or what part of the drop I wanted to show.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find flat  metal and well…. I tried to double sided sticky tape it to the wall and they always fell off. But I knew I was on to something… if I could just have it BIGGER.

So I went… BIGGER.

A quick call to my loving husband and I knew what I needed. He thought I was crazy, but now– well, he gets it! What I use is 4×8 sheets of 24 gauge cold rolled steel. yup, 4×8 sheets! I have three walls completely covered in them, standing tall – so 8ft up in the air, and stacked next to each other – so those big 8×8 drops for big family sessions can be used with ease! I used a local place called Alro Steel – I am sure if you Google local steel manufacturer you can find a place. We basically showed up (I mean, my husband showed up!) and got a pallet of steel – I had ordered 10 sheets at $30 a piece for my three walls (I use three walls for different things)

Once the steel was up with to many screws to count, I immediately knew I had to paint it so it blended in with my actual wall. Now you can’t just paint this stuff, you first have to prep it… if you don’t you will not like the results.

To prep the wall, first wipe down the steel with mineral spirits (paint thinner). This will get a lot of the grease off.  Next, you need to sand the steel a bit, this will help the primer and paint hold.  The third prep step is very important… you need to prime the steel, but you need to prime it with METAL PRIMER if you do not use metal primer, the paint will react with the metal and not stick or turn orange in spots. (I have one wall that was not metal primed because for some dumb reason I listened to my brother and not my husband – one of these days I will make him re prime and paint that wall!). So after you prime the wall you are ready for paint! I painted my steel the same color as the walls so it blended.

Wall prepped, primed and painted.

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Next, you will need some magnets, and in my experience the kind you can get the local hardware store won’t cut it! I have used everything trying to get my drops not to fall. Since my entire wall is steel, things without a handle are annoying to come off, I can get them off but not fast. So I went searching on Amazon and found EXACTLY the thing I was looking for magnets with handles!!

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Here are the links!

This first magnet I use to hold the corners of drops – I only use fabric drops because storing them is so easy, so they are heavier than poly drops. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008H40WIQ/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1
4-5 of these will also hold a 5×7 mat floor so if you like that look.

I then use these small ones to secure the bottom. I also use this to hold paper fans via fishing for cake smashes! https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00U5OFXB2/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

These are handy to tie fabric banners to. Tieing them to the knob ones I find annoying, but easier with this carabiner. https://www.amazon.com/Atomic-SUPER-Strong-Neodymium-Magnet-Carabiner/dp/B076DGY5Q9/ref=sr_1_7?s=industrial&ie=UTF8&qid=1531539984&sr=1-7&keywords=magnet+with+carabiner

Thats it! I can now hang any size drop up to 8 feet on my walls super fast and not worry about flimsy background stands or worrying about tripping hazards!

Fabric background hung:

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Mat floor:

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Large 10×8 fabric (that I should of ordered in 8×8 lol)

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And now I ditched PVC pipe for my newborn table shots and just use the wall!

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