For Heather Kallhoff, the old cliché about necessity being the mother of invention proved to be not only true, but a real boon for her one-woman portrait photography studio in Watertown, S.D. Having moved from a residential studio to a commercial studio, she found she had a lot less flexibility, at least as far as creating ambience for various shoots.
Kallhoff began experimenting with different materials to use as backdrops, settling on LexJet TOUGHcoat Water-Resistant Self Adhesive Polypropylene. “It’s non glare, with great color saturation and has the right price point,” says Kallhoff.
Kallhoff works with White House Custom Colour on the majority of her print projects and says the backdrops quickly proliferated beyond her studio as other photographers requested the unique two-panel backdrops. They were so much in demand that Kallhoff started a website at orangepeelbackgrounds.com where they’re sold.
“What I’ve done with our backdrops that makes them different, aside from the peel-and-stick aspect, is that they’re two panels printed at 42” x 96” each so we can create dimensional sets versus just flat backgrounds,” she says. “You can have split walls, make corners or use one as a background and one as the floor. It just gives you a lot of flexibility. In my studio I use them as semi-permanent backgrounds that I stick to a wall. I also have a wall of pink foam that I Velcro them to so that they’re easy up, easy down and reusable.”
Kallhoff first started creating the backgrounds from photos she would take of interesting scenes around the country. Now the orangepeelbackgrounds.com catalog has more than 200 different backdrops from which to choose. Plus, since they’re printed on-demand, custom backdrops are also available and can be printed in more than two panels, if desired.
Kallhoff says she does four-panel backgrounds for a dance studio she works with so that there’s a background for every costume they use. A network television series recently inquired about backgrounds for their set, so Kallhoff is excited about the possibility of seeing her work on television.
“We have an artist team submission group and if someone shoots something cool they’ll send it to me, I’ll convert it into a background and they get a discount on the custom background for them and a kickback on every background sold of their design,” she says.