Photo Boards, an introduction.
Hello and thanks for popping by the Photo Boards® blog.
For those who are new to Photo Boards they are a relatively new product, so don't worry you haven't missed out on something fabulous for all this time! They didn't so much as 'launch' but simply went on sale one day last autumn from a very basic website to my Photocraft photography students. What followed was an unexpected, very sudden, global demand for them that still takes us by surprise after they went viral.
We still haven't done a proper 'launch' for Photo Boards, they kind of launched themselves! Notice how many of our new summer designs are out of stock already? We still couldn't forecast that demand for those would be so high!
New Blog for Autumn 2017
Thanks to lots of amazing people doing amazing things to ensure our customers get their Photo Boards on time, I am now a little more free to blog about them.
Expect blogs about my favourite props, lots of helpful hints and tips for taking great Photos with Photo Boards, and inspiration galore. Before that however, a little bit of background, What has made Photo Boards so popular? and what goes into creating a Photo Board?
Backdrops. As a professional photographer I have tried them all over my 15 year career, paper backdrops that crease too easily, vinyl ones that show up a woven texture when used close up, and the ones without the weave? still too reflective and why won't they ever lie flat?
I have tried fabric backdrops, self adhesive backdrops, wallpaper, flooring, all never being quite as good as actual pieces of marble, wood and my own painted efforts. Sometimes I would find a great material only to find the backdrop manufacturer simply enlarged your chosen design to fit, great for portrait backgrounds as intended but making them impossible to look real in close up photography.
I showed my Photocraft students how to create their own, teaching them all the painting techniques I had learned over the years and telling them where to hunt around for original reclaimed pieces of wood and stone, they loved the ideas, but both involved time and an understanding of how the backdrop would affect their final image.
My Perfect Photography Backdrop
The idea for Photo Boards came to me about 4 years ago, but with the success of Photocraft and teaching photography to students around the world, the timing just wasn't right to try something new, I also had no idea they would be quite as popular!
Last summer however, I revisited my Photo Boards invention, my frustration had now extended to watching my students struggle to find time to make or find their own backdrops. I decided I would create a smooth solid replica of my own backdrops, designed especially for close up photography, not for studios, not for portraits or for shooting large items, just a small photo backdrop for creating quick, beautiful scenes.
I knew my perfect go-to photo background would be a small square board and decided I would simply call them Photo Boards®. Their small size would make them easy to store while being large enough for jewellery, books and perhaps even a vase of flowers.
The square ratio would allow for easy Instagram framing and assist in the trend for creating square shots, perfect for my students.
And the rigid board format? well that was a key design element from the start - no more wavy backdrops that want to roll themselves up, quick and easy to position/prop up, solid enough to lift and move the scene around, and for pro photographers that all important control over hot spots and reflections by simply tilting the board away from light.
I was so excited about using my new Photo Boards invention myself instead of lifting my heavy backdrops around just to shoot a quick scene, all I needed to do was make sure they looked realistic!
A photographer's eye
To ensure each Photo Board looks great in a professional photographer's photos, simply printing a nice photo of some wood was never going to work*, I knew the high quality required for keen photographers eyes, an enormous amount of product testing began.
*Some people do sell badly printed stock photos and call them Photo Boards - don't be conned into paying lots of money for a printed stock photo! Photo Boards is a registered trademark and our certified retailers are listed on our website.
When designing a Photo Board, my considerations include how the photographer using it will light the scene, which is likely to be different depending on the mood they are creating.
For example the bright fresh Whitewashed Photo Board has no shadow depth, and is printed slightly darker than true white to allow for the photographer to over expose the scene slightly without losing detail - I know that users of this board will love to brighten their scene and are most likely to use flat lighting.
In contrast the darker Barn wood design is more likely to be used to create darker moodier scenes, so the shadows are deeper to replicate a single light source the photographer might use, the tones are less saturated so that they don't cause a distraction in the image and the edges have a slight vignette to black.
Each Photo Board has it's own unique combination of features like this, applied at design level depending on how the board is likely to be used. We use the latest in scanning and print technology to create our backdrops and even know which designs are likely to be purchased by hobbyists and which the more technically advanced photographers are likely to be attracted to.
Attention to detail
Lighting direction and exposure aren't the only considerations when I'm designing a Photo Board, each and every splinter of wood and element of detail must be a true 1:1 replica otherwise the backdrop will instantly look fake when in direct contact with the subject.
Thanks to the attention to detail from a photographer's point of view, professional photographers around the world are loving Photo Boards as an essential piece of studio kit, with the UK's leading camera retailer WEX Photographic becoming our first high street retailer last month.
Hobby photographers of course love them too with bloggers and crafters regarding them as a lifesaving tool for social media, and even well known brands including Nestlé, Percol, Gisella Graham, Annabel Karmel, Pantherella and many more have purchased Photo Boards for their latest promos.
You could say we have been a little busy! Exciting plans are ahead for our second year including lots of lovely new designs, new stockists and some really different collections I know you will love.
Stay tuned! I have some awesome stuff to share with you.
Inventor and Founder of Photo Boards®