Advantages of Using Canvas Backdrops

Written by: Cheryl Woods, Published on: 01 October 2013

Advantages of Using Canvas Backdrops
Photo Courtesy of: Ryan Walsh, Featuring: Whirlwind Canvas Backdrop

Photography backdrops vary in style, size, shape and color. Understanding the basics of each type of background can seem quite intimidating. Of all the choices, the beauty of a canvas backdrop cannot be matched. From their unique coloring and patterns to their long life and versatile usage, they’re great for the amateur or pro photographer.

Indeed, they are a purchase from which any photographer can benefit. In particular, canvas backdrops are the perfect choice for the studio-based photographer. And although canvas is more expensive than other materials, it needs to be considered a long-term investment, or legacy purchase, for your studio. If properly cared for, they will also last for many years to come.

Did you know the first photography backdrops were made of heavy canvas, painted with classical designs? Today’s high quality canvas backgrounds are still hand-painted. You can find any variety of colors you can imagine – from blue skies to earth and autumn tones. The most common designs for canvas are what some call the Old Master’ designs that resemble a classic European painting. These color patterns will be mostly dark colors on the edges with a lighter area in the middle for the subject.(1) The wide choices of pattern, color combinations and painting techniques are just some of the numerous benefits of using canvas backdrops.

Autumn Canvas BackdropPhoto Courtesy of Ryan Walsh, Featuring: Autumn Canvas Backdrop


Canvas is a high-quality choice because the cloth is free of glare.  The canvases are painted and designed to avoid flaking or peeling with time. 


Backdrops should not be folded because wrinkles in canvas are not easily removed. This makes them bulkier than other backdrops like muslin. Having a permanent set up in your studio for your canvas backdrops is recommended. The material is washable and, unlike seamless backdrops, it won’t tear. Many canvas backdrops are also UV coated to help prevent staining and fading.(2)

If you need to clean your canvas just use a soft, dry or slightly damp cloth and gently wipe away dirt and dust. Do not use any type of cleaning products or other chemical solutions. 


Typically canvas backdrops are mounted on a pole, which can be used to roll them up for transport. They can also be large, with a 10×10 foot background being required to produce coverage for full-length portraits of two people. Many photographers choose to use a large canvas as a backdrop in the studio and a muslin or other backdrop for shooting in other locations. 

Golden Sand Canvas BackdropPhoto Courtesy of Ryan Walsh, Featuring: Golden Sand Canvas Backdrop


Canvas backdrops are rugged but because of their heavier weight, and as stated earlier, are best suited for permanent locations. In particular, Savage’s premium line of canvas backdrops, with their multi-layering construction, gives them even more moxie than your average canvas backdrop. The hand painting in multiple layers creates a handsome mottled effect evocative of old world plaster walls or cloud-dappled skies. They are available in 9’ x 10’ and 9’ x 20’. Their features and benefits include:

  • Blackout center prevents light from passing through
  • Durable vinyl backing
  • Matte finish—no glare
  • Seamless with sewn finish on all edges
  • 3” rod pocket at the top for easy hanging
  • Durable and easy to clean


If you’re looking for a classy touch to your portrait photography, canvas is definitely the choice. Some of the world’s most famous artistic photographers are known for their stunning portraiture due to their selection of canvas as a backdrop. Annie Leibowitz’ celebrity shots, Richard Avedon’s fashion pics and Joel Peter-Witkin’s artistic ensembles would never have achieved their greatness if not for the allure of the canvas backdrop.

Some photographers, especially those committed to a traditional portraiture style feel canvas gives a more formal look. Many photographers feel that the main advantage of using a canvas backdrop is that their subjects are always happy with the finished results.(2)

The choices are many when it comes to selecting backdrops for your work. But, if you’re looking to have a long-term professional set-up for your studio that allows you to express your creativity and gain you happy customers, then a canvas backdrop is for you.


(1) Farace, Joe (Mar. 8, 2011) Choosing the Right Studio Backdrop [blog post]. Retrieved from

(2) (n.d.) Photography Muslin vs. Photography Canvas [online article]. Retrieved from

About Cheryl Woods

Cheryl Woods

Cheryl Woods is an accomplished photographer, designer and branding consultant with a career spanning 20+ years. Her photographic work includes editorial, fashion, portraiture and product photography for major companies in the consumer products field including QVC and Hanover Direct. She received a B.F.A. in Photography from the University of the Arts and an M.F.A. in Media Design from Full Sail University. Cheryl's work has been exhibited at the Lowes Museum of Art in Coral Gables, FL, The New York Independent Film Festival and the Rosenwald Wolf Gallery in Philadelphia, PA. Check out her website here!


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