Fake Floors and Walls – My New Studio Set Up!

With winter just around the corner and the end of “outdoor shooting” for many of us that live in temperate climates I thought it would be a good idea to discuss indoor photo set ups…

Do you ever wonder how it is that photographers all have beautiful hardwood floors, impeccable trim and an uncluttered gorgeous solid colored wall to photograph children on?  Yeah, me too, until I discovered the secret, and it looks something like this:


my new fake hardwood floor!

These “hardwood floors” are actually bamboo floor protectors and seem to be an essential part of any photographer’s equipment arsenal. They are cheap ($15.99!), really lightweight and roll up for easy transport.  The downside is that they are in pretty high demand and it took FOREVER for me to get mine.. I ordered it from Lakeside collection (you can also order fro ABC distributing their sister company) on September 15th and got it the first week in November (they go on backorder but they don’t tell you when you order that they aren’t in stock.)

The trim is just a piece of molding from Home depot that you clamp using pony clamps to the paper and then sort of have to figure out how to get it to stand upright (I put some children’s books behind it but need to refine this step a bit!).

The “wall” is of course seamless paper that you buy on big rolls from camera equipment stores like B&H.  They come in 53″ and 107″ sizes – each with their pros and cons.. the 53″ size is MUCH more manageable, but also limiting – for example you can’t fit a group of more than maybe 3 and that’s a squeeze!  The following pictures were all taken with the Savage Sea Green 53″ roll which is a beautiful and versatile color.  Speaking of colors – do NOT go by the little squares they show online – the colors are totally off! Instead do a search for the name of the color on flickr to see actual photographs taken using the different seamless colors and there won’t be any big surprises.

I also ordered Sky Blue and Coral (a pink) because of photos I’d seen from other people and also because now I have white, a good girl color, a good boy color and a neutral – I can’t wait to try them! I have also since fallen in love with some grays like “smoke gray” that caught my eye in Sandy Wagerman’s photostream.

And lastly, you need a stand to hold the paper up! I have been really happy with the Impact Portable Backdrop Stand that was recommended to me by my photographer friend and also by several ILP members.   It’s lightweight, sturdy and comes in a nice carry bag that makes it easy to transport.

Of course you don’t NEED any of this stuff – I just find that I got really tired of ironing the wrinkles out of fabrics! Plus, I thought you might appreciate learning the “secret” that so many pros use. I know it was an epiphany for me when I first learned about it ;)

And here are a few photos taken with my new set-up:

I can’t wait to try the other colors – I’m getting Abigail back to do some indoor shoots hopefully this Sunday!

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Wall Display Templates for Photographers

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Corinne says:

Wow! I’m so glad I found your site. These tips are awesome. I know what I’m asking for this Christmas!

elise…. ECOSLEEKSHOP.COM has great wood floor props…very affordable prices too…barnwood white, dark cherry, mahogany, black, bluewood, birchwood, honey oak…. wish i could buy em all!

Elisa says:

I am having trouble finding the bamboo floors and portable stands that can fit paper and cloth backdrops. – 8feet is extremely high and wont fit in most homes. – any suggestions ? loved this set up btw :)

jamena says:

wow thank you so much i always thought it was an actual wall in the photographers home up untill just recently. Thank you so much and your set up nice

Lindsey says:

Do you use a reflector for your studio shots? With newborn shoots I don’t use anything, but I’m getting ready to do some indoor sessions wtih a setup similar to this & I want to stray away from shadows!! Any tips???

ariana says:

Yes, a reflector is always a good thing to have.. With window light irony use it too much, but sometimes I need to.

nicole says:

you are a lifesaver–i’m about to do a six month baby shoot at a client’s house, and this set up is JUST what i need. thank you!

Ecosleekshop.Com also sells bamboo mats that work beautifully as a photo prop. I use the Dark Cherry and Chocolate Walnut colored mats in my photo sessions all the time!

Melissa Trewben says:

Great Information, thankyou so much!!

Melanie says:

Thanks for sharing, I wondered how some photographers have different coloured walls, would love to get my own set up. Just wondering do you shoot indoors with flash?? Do you normally set up at your place, or go to peoples houses with your set up?

ariana says:

Hi Melanie,
At my house I have good natural light and I rarely need to use flash. If I’m going to the client then I always bring it just in case! I MUCH prefer to do seamless paper setups at home because then I don’t have to schlep my setup there and more importantly, I KNOW I have quality light at home and the necessary space to accommodate the paper and the right angle to the light. Hope that helps!

Ashley says:

I too have always wondered how everyone did this! thank you so much for the info & how to do it!!! I can’t wait to try it! Bummer on the bamboo rug! :( I just have to say that Jasper is SUCH a cutie pie!!!!

Lindsay says:

I’ve been trying to get this bamboo rug, but they were out of stock and now it looks like they are discontinued. I wanted to let people know that I found a similar bamboo mat at Cost Plus, World Market. They have them online and at their stores. The only downside, they are $50 for a 4×6 rug instead of the VERY nice $15.99 price. :) But I really wanted one for my setup, so I was glad to find it!

Oh, I also saw on Flickr that some people pulled their wood kitchen or coffee table up to their backdrop and molding with similar results. Not as convenient, though! (And I’d worry that my 6 month old baby would roll himself off!)

Tavia says:

Thanks for the great info! :)

Sara says:

Thank you for posting this! I was just wondering about all of this information the other day, what a huge help! I have a question: where do you have this set up in your home? I never know where to set up anything. Thanks!

kari says:

hello PRO!

LOVING all of your tips and tricks of the trade!

Keri says:

That’s so funny that your mock wall is identical to most of the walls in my house. We have dark hardwood, white moldings and a tannish/ neutral wall color. Guess I have the studio look down:-)!

Alicia says:

That is so neato-mosquito! Love the green color – it seems perfect for any gender, any season!

Kimberly says:

I think you mean, those of us who *don’t* live in temperate climates….

This is awesome! I’m a long way off from wanting to have an in-home studio set-up (if ever) but if I ever do, I know where to look for inspiration and help! :) Love these of Jasper… he’s such a handsome little man!!!