How to Make a DIY Newborn Photography Background Stand

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Have you ever wondered how professional newborn photographers get their backdrops so smooth and wrinkle free? Are they Photoshop masters? Do they have a team of highly paid assistants pulling the fabric? No. The answer is a DIY backdrop stand that costs less than $20 and that you can make in less than 15 minutes.

Image 9 1

When I first started in the world of newborn photography I used the tools that I had available. I would use a traditional background stand to hold the back of my fabric backdrops. I would then ask my clients if I could borrow a vacuum, dining room chair or some other house hold object to clamp the side of my fabrics to. This, of course, was very unprofessional and delivered substandard results. I would find myself spending 30 minutes just editing the backdrop in Photoshop. I knew there had to be a better way. So, with a little imagination and $20 I saved myself countless hours of Photoshop madness. Now, besides some simple blemish removal and softening, the images are basically perfect, straight out of camera.

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This tutorial will teach you how to build a background stand that stretches your backdrop fabrics. This stand will help to eliminate wrinkles in your background fabric, and cut down on post-processing time. It will also help you present your newborn photography business in a more professional manner.

Supplies needed

What you will need:

Image 1

All of the supplies should be readily available at your local hardware store. You will need to look in the plumbing section. All PVC fittings are Schedule 40.

  • Four – 10 Foot lengths of 3/4 inch PVC pipe (SCH 40)
  • Four – 3/4 inch elbow joints
  • Four– 3/4 inch 3-way joints
  • Two – 3/4 inch tee joints

Step 1. Cut the PVC pipes to the correct lengths

You can use a PVC cutter, a miter saw, or a handsaw. I used a handsaw and was able to complete the entire stand in 15 minutes.

Lengths needed:

  • Three – 50 inch pieces
  • Four – 42inch pieces
  • Six – 20inch pieces

Recommended cuts:

  • Pipe 1: 50 inches + 50 inches + 20 inches
  • Pipe 2: 50 inches + 42 inches + 20 inches (discard 8 inches)
  • Pipe 3: 42 inches + 42 inches + 20 inches (discard 16 inches)
  • Pipe 4: 42 inches + 20 inches + 20 inches + 20 inches (discard 18 inches)

Step 2. Connect the bottom frame

Connect two 50″ pieces and two 42″ pieces with the four 3-way joints to make a rectangle.

Image 2

Step 3. Add the vertical leg pieces

Connect four of the 20inch pieces to the rectangle.

Image 3

Step 4. Connect the middle supports

Connect a tee joint and an elbow joint to either end of a 42inch piece of PVC. Repeat. Connect these to the backdrop stand.

Image 4

Step 5. Connect the back support

Connect two 20″ pieces to the back of the stand. Now connect the remaining 50″ piece to the top with two elbow joints. It should look like this at this stage (below).

Image 5

Step 6. Place a beanbag underneath

Place your beanbag in the center of the stand, and you are ready to stretch your backdrop fabric.

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Here is a picture of the backdrop stand in use at a client’s home.

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Here is a final newborn image using the backdrop stand.

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This stand is purposely designed to be wide. This allows you to take those much needed angled pictures without losing your backdrop fabric. You may however, prefer to have a square backdrop stand. This would allow you to use a smaller area in your studio or client’s home. Just keep in mind that you will need to really watch your angles.

Recommended lengths for a square backdrop stand:

  • Seven – 45inch pieces
  • Six – 20inch pieces

NOTE: This stand is only to be used with a newborn posing beanbag placed under the center of the stand. The posing beanbag is what supports the newborn, not the fabric. NEVER leave a newborn baby unattended on the beanbag or on any prop. As a newborn photographer the safety of the newborn baby must be your top concern at all times.

 

Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category

Clifton Man is an award winning photographer specializing in maternity and newborn portraiture. He operates Clifton Man Photography along with his wife Michaela. They service the Maryland and Northern Virginia area with their mobile studio. You can view his work at Clifton Man Photography and his blog here.

  • BethStumbles

    Newborn photography is such a beautiful idea, I’d love to pursue a career in this.

    Stunning photography, really seemed to capture the fragility of the baby, and the backdrop is a great idea.

    http://www.bethstumbles.com/

  • Vera Vaughn
  • Emily7849
  • Clifton Man

    Beth,

    Thank you for the comment! I am happy to hear that you think
    the backdrop stand is a good idea. It has saved me hours in Photoshop!

  • Anthony820

    My wife is pregnant with our first. I would very much like to try this set up, but never having done any portiture that required backdrops, I’m not sure what material I should use for the fabric. Are you just using a random white blanket, or is there something better suited?

  • Patricia5563
  • Clifton Man

    Anthony,

    Congratulations on the new addition to your family! I would
    recommend using a stretchy fabric. You can look for stretch knits or jersey
    knits at your local fabric store, they should have any color that you are
    looking for.

  • John Jones

    I have two questions: 1. Since there is no crossbar in the front is there any chance the baby could roll off the front of the stand, or does the bean bag completely secure the infant? 2. Do you have to replace the connectors over time? I was wondering if with repeated use they loose their ability to hold the pipe securely. Just wondering, but thanks for sharing. This is a great idea.

  • Clifton Man

    Hello, those are great questions! It is always wise to be sure that the newborn you are photographing on the backdrop is attended at all times. Never leave a newborn baby unattended on any beanbag. My wife and I work as a team so that one of us always has a hand on the baby.

    We have used the connectors for over a year and have not had to replace them. As with any pvc product, do not expose the parts to extreme temperature i.e. do not place a heater near the stand.

  • Clifton Man

    To clarify: the stand is designed solely to stretch the backdrop fabric, not to secure the newborn in any way.

  • Amber Bowe

    Where can I get that exact bean bag for my newborn photos?

  • Joshua

    Seem like not easy to find the 3 way joint. May I know where can I buy through online?

  • Alexis7856

    @cliftonman:disqus ->
    >

  • David

    what lighting do you suggest to use? what was used in your sample newborn pic? Thanks for the great tip!

  • Neloufer

    Hey thanks for this, just wondering, do you set it up fully each time you go to a clients house? Like you mention I keep borrowing chairs from the clients houses I can’t yet invest too much on backdrop stands that are expensive (still not making enough money). But if I were to take this apart and set up each time I visit a client (perfectly doable as I can take them in the car) will it lose it’s stability (the 3 way and 2 joints) and collapse at any time? and whats the thickness of the pvc you’ve used for the tubes? (Where we live we have different grade pvc’s so just need to be sure they won’t bend in with the weight of the fabric) Thanks!

  • WillyPs

    Schedule 40 is what’s used here. That determines the thickness of the tubing. It’s pretty strong. Since the baby’s weight is on the bean bag, there shouldn’t be any issues with strength. If after many uses the ends of the pipe wear so they become a little too loose, you could always cut a little off the ends, like a 1/4″ to an inch, and they’ll be nice and tight again. Or you could glue some of the joints, and that would also save some time in setup.

  • Clifton Man

    Yes, we set up and take down the stand for every newborn session. We’ve been using the stand for over a year and haven’t had any problems. Please be mindful not to leave the parts in your car during the summer heat or winter cold as it could possibly effect them.

    WillyPs is correct about the tubing thickness. If parts wear, consider purchasing new joints. We keep spare ones handy in case we should misplace one during setup or take down.

  • Clifton Man

    David,
    We use a large softbox. There are several brands and sizes available to suit your budget and lighting style. Thanks for the question!

  • Clifton Man

    Joshua,

    You can purchase them online through several large home improvement stores. You can also search the term “3-way PVC elbow” using a search engine. Thanks for the question!

  • Clifton Man

    Amber,

    Our bean bag was custom made to our specifications by a local seamstress. You can search for a “newborn posing bean bag” online and find one to meet your needs. Thank you!

  • Anne4568h
  • Michael Bishop

    worst thing is getting them together and then apart. If you have a problem sand down the pipe and the inside of the joint, til they slip together easily. With that you might drill a hole through the joint and pipe and put a small bolt all the way through and a nut on the other side

  • Charlie Barker

    Or you can get the whole set up minus back drop here. ship to USA and other countries is extra.
    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Newborn-Baby-props-Posing-beanbag-frame-/252012183238?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_3&hash=item3aad18bec6

  • laura dubose

    Hello, I’m waiting on my 3 way elbow to arrive and wanted to go ahead and purchase fabric. Can you tell me how much I need to fit the stand?

  • Clifton Man

    I’m glad that you’ve decided to build your own stand! You will need fabric that is 60 inches wide and 2-2.5 yards long. Fabrics with 4 way stretch are best.

  • christina.stromberg
  • Safron Thomas

    Got all the parts for this in one local hardware store except the elbow joints and scoured the UK for them to no avail!!!

    Must be some sort of weird EU Regulation or something. Anyway all the rest of the parts cost about £16 and then the elbow joints delivered to UK from US £13. (£10 of that was delivery :-/ )

    Haven’t made it up yet, just waiting on the elbows but looking forward to putting together what would have been a budget setup but now a bit dearer than first planned!!!

    Thanks for the great easy to follow instructions tho Clifton!!

  • Kimberly
  • laura dubose

    Thank you, Clifton Man for this tutorial and for your quick response to my question about the fabric amount. My elbow joints arrived, I put the stand together easily in just minutes and utilized it right away. This stand will be put to good use and I have a whole new appreciation for what can be done with PVC pipe!

  • Clifton Man

    Safron,

    I am glad that you were finally able to source the parts that you needed! Even with the added expense, it will be well worth it!

    Thank you for your kind words. Best of luck!

  • Clifton Man

    Laura,

    That’s awesome! I’m sure you will get good use out of your stand. It’s definitely a time saver. Best of luck!

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  • Amandeep Singh

    Thank you Anthony for such a creative idea. I’m also a photographer but never tried as such, but now will surely do. Can you please let me know about the lights setup you use with this kind of photography?

  • Pearl Feder

    Love this creative way of making a backdrop. My daughter is expecting and I plan to take the baby pics. Are there any really good free tutorials online you would recommend. I’ll be using the Olympus OEMD Mark II.

  • Nav

    My first baby is due in october. I’m so excited as a father. This looks like a good idea, Why would it be wrong just to buy the fabric only and put it on my sofa?

  • paulina

    Hi, could you please tell me what should the space between beanbag and fabric be? And what is the difference in height between the side pipe and beanbag? Thank you

  • Mike Crossman

    Great instruction Clifton Man. everything you need to know well laid out. But just an FYI ..if you are a Canadian don’t expect to spend 20 dollars on this project. I found the connectors at Lee Valley for around 20 dollars and the PVC pipe is around 10 bucks a length so you are in for about 50 bucks ..still a great deal just not as low cost .

  • Kassie Ortiz

    Check out Ana Brandt! Shes awesome!

  • michelle

    Great tutorial, but in the UK we struggle to get the 3 way joints, I created a tutorial to achieve the same effect with only parts easily available in the U.K

    It can be found here :-

    http://www.michelledaniels.co.uk/make-diy-newborn-photography-background-stand-uk-version/

    Happy Snapping !

  • siddhesh pawar

    Really excellent idea salute to you…thanks n god bless you for sharing this article…i like to join u on instagaram my id @siddharth7543

  • Cris Marquez

    Odd question what clamps did you use to hold the fabric?? Where can I get them?

  • Savannah Black Robertson

    I have a travel size bag. How much should I adjust the measurements?

  • Danielle Mielcarek

    Hi Clifton! How large is your posing bag? Would you make any adjustments (to height or width) if using a travel posing bag (a 30 inch diameter bag)? Thanks!

  • Danielle Mielcarek

    To clarify: what adjustments would you make to the backdrop stand if using a travel posing bag that is 30 inches in diameter. Thanks!

  • Stephanie Carrico

    Would this work if the bean bag I have is a travel size? Would I need to modify the dimensions?

  • Michelle

    What was the diameter of the posing bag you used?

  • jamie niggemann

    Is this easily collapsible? I would love to know if I could travel with this to a customers home. If it is, what is the typical setup time for this?

    Thanks!

  • RollingCalf

    Velor works well as it stretches well and is virtually wrinkle free

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