As a photojournalist and much later a family portrait photographer, I rarely considered using backdrops in my photography. Backdrops would have simply got in the way of what I was producing for my clients.
Recently, however, I've a new-found interest in studio photography and want to go well beyond the existing lavender walls in my home studio. As luck would have it, I stumbled upon a backdrop company called Mizu.
Mizu's brand promise is this:
“Presenting MIZU Backdrops, handcrafted to perfection. Each drop is painted by seasoned artists with high quality materials for a timeless touch that your pictures deserve.”
Ordering A Mizu Backdrop
The Mizu bacdrop website is elegantly designed and easy to navigate. The sample images on the site are stunning and inviting. What caught my eye was however the fact that Mizu offers custom backdrops. Not having backdrops before, I don't know how many other backdrop companies offer that to their customers, but the fact that I could a request a specific tone and have that delivered really intrigued and excited me.
So, as I said, my home studio has lavender colored walls. When I repaint it, it will be a neutral gray, I promise. But until then, I'll be using my Mizu backdrop in my studio because it was neutral gray that I requested when I placed my custom order.
I was intrigued by Mizu's process and reached out to the owner and asked if I could see what was involved in making a custom backdrop. A few days later, I received a video and a Dropbox full of images of my canvas being produced!
The Backdrop Details
One has three choices for backdrop dimensions: 5'x7′, 7'x10 and 10'x15′. Given the dimensions of my basement home studio, I ordered a Mizu backdrop in the 5'x7′ dimension. My cost was just $100! While the payment was originally in Indian rupees, Mizu now accepts Paypal payments in US dollars.
The canvas is sourced from Camlin and is made of a linen canvas fabric. The backrop I received, a small, weighs between 6-8 pounds. The backdrop is made and shipped from Chennai, India, via FedEx and I was very surprised that it arrived here in the US within days of ordering it.
While I ordered a custom backdrop, you may want something out of their current inventory. At this writing, Mizu has nine different backdrops for sale. If I had a typical commercial studio, I would likely buy every one of them.
As Mizu was running a launch special when I ordered my custom item, I ordered a second backdrop from their inventory (Creative Charcoal). I have not had a chance at using this second backdrop yet, but here are some examples from a recent portrait session using the custom backdrop.
A Mini Review Of Mizu Backdrops
As much as I wanted to photograph a few friends indoors, in my basement studio, I chose to experiment a little by using the Mizu backdrop outdoors on my back deck. With a little more space to move around, I felt quite comfortable initially in setting up my backdrop.
A couple of A-clamps held the backdrop steady until a gust of wind took the whole set up crashing down. My backdrop did get crinkled a bit (as you can see from the portraits above) but one way to look at it is that it adds a little more character to the backdrop in the process.
So, one big lesson I have learned from setting this up outdoors is to invest in lots of sandbags.
The Mizu backdrops are my first backdrop, so I didn't know what to expect. The finish of the custom canvas was spot on to the color I sent them to emulate. I was thrilled to get just the color I was looking for. I was also happy with how quickly the order arrived. Lastly, the price surprised me the most. Making hand-made made backdrops is no easy task and it is labor-intensive. When I discovered these are produced in Chennai, India, it made a lot of sense. Labor costs are definitely lower than in Brooklyn, New York. But that they can produce something so beautiful at such an affordable price truly amazed me.
Are you going to take up studio photography? Is studio photography “The Comeback Kid” as Rangefinder magazine suggests? If it is, and you are looking for a well-made, affordable custom backdrop for your studio, you should place Mizu backdrops on the top of your wish list.