Thoughts from an artisan backdrop painter
So, this week I have another guest writer on my blog.
His name is Slavomir Kondratovic and he's a fabulous photographer, but more importantly for this blog, he creates gorgeous backdrops and sells them!
Now, as a lot of photographers know, a good backdrop can help a photo immeasurably. I am not trying to diminish anyone’s skills at lighting and posing, it's just another facet of getting a fabulous photo, but my lord does it help to have a good backdrop!
And for those of us who have tried to create our own backdrops after people on the internet have told us how easy it is, you will appreciate his dedication, skill and his thoughts on the process.
My last words before I hand over to Slavomir are that I have tried to paint several backdrops.
They came out like hideous ugly sister caricatures of backdrops. I named the style I painted them in as ‘Jackson Amok’ after Jackson Pollock. They were awful! After I sat and stared at my dismal failures, I read a post by Sue Bryce where she quotes “Its takes two artists to paint something, one to paint and the other to hit the first artist over the head when they have done enough”
Those words rang very true afterwards….
I really hope you enjoy looking at Slavomir's work and his thoughts on his backdrops :) I’ve never met Slavomir in the flesh, but his positivity and love for his craft is what I wanted to showcase to people.
My name is Slavomir and I own ”Hand Painted Backdrops”
We are based in Wigan and we ship backdrops all over the world.
In a lot of Studio photography work I've seen shots were the backgrounds look fantastic and they work with the beautiful photography. When you are starting out however, you don't always have a lot of money and I wanted those beautiful backdrops! So I thought why not just do it myself? and so I painted my first backdrop and it's was not great, but I did find a way to use it anyway. I just turned it over to the bad side and used the other side for an industrial look.
So afterwards I had material left over and I just stared at it. It was a waste of Canvas and paints if I didn't use it. At the time I really had no idea how much materials I’d needed and I had spent a fair bit of cash on this and realised it’s too expensive to not use the rest of what I had already bought.
So I thought I’d try again and painted one more. This was a black and grey backdrop, and it’s become my most used backdrop. This backdrop helped me to create some beautiful photos that I later used for my Master photography Association Qualification and Archived Associate level. Then I’d just paint one more… and then another and then just one more in different colours and textures to see what it looked like, and it just carried on and became something that I really enjoyed doing and people started to comment on my backdrops when I was showing my work.
They then asked me where to buy them! And that led to my first commission for a hand painted backdrop. And that really helped me to understand that my work can be useful and appreciated by other photographers.
And I of course understand that I sell backdrops after I have created them, but It’s not all about the money. Its more about passing the value to each other. By selling a backdrop to a photographer, the photographer is paying for my work and receiving all of the love, craft and value I have tried so hard to breathe into it. I’ve hopefully made something meaningful for other photographers and subsequently their clients.
And this is how ”Hand Painted Backdrops” started.
My ordering system is different from other backdrop painters. I don't have too many samples because we have a high turnover of stock.
To begin with, I talk to the photographer, ask plenty of questions to determinate what they want and to align this with their vision. An everyday problem I face is that everyone sees and feels things differently and so they describe and visualise differently, so this is why I have to ask a lot of questions and use a lot of examples to make sure I am giving the customer exactly what they want.
When I have a new order in for a backdrop, I roll the plain canvas out on the floor, and in my mind I can already see the result I'm after, and it's just a matter of time before I get the vision in my head onto the canvas. Colours in my eyes are starting to sing from the first drop of paint that touches the canvas. I see the texture, vignette, a second and third colour, and I know already if I will need to add one more coat.
From mixing the primer to the water proportions, to how wet the canvas was before the priming, to how much water has been added to the paint. It’s a complicated process for getting to where you want the backdrop to be.
Once dry and I’m happy with it, I then finish the backdrop, rolling it carefully around the aluminium core (paper cores bend), packaging and then posting it to the customer. At that point my heart stops. I know I’ve done my best to fulfil the customers’ expectations, and the time I spend waiting for feedback on the back drop is exciting. It’s similar to when I send photos to a client and am awaiting their feedback. It’s exciting!
Making two backdrops exactly the same is impossible.
Part of my soul will be printed on that canvas, or archival paper and shown in a beautiful frame. No one will know this backdrop is painted by myself, and no one will even think about that. But I know I exist in other photographers’ work, helping them achieve the best results for their loved ones or their customers
It can be really gratifying when your customer tells you “I ordered exactly what I see now!” It's fantastic!
My mission is to paint backdrops exactly as my customers have envisioned them. It can’t always be the case because we see, feel and describe things differently, but so far I am proud to say my success rate is 99.9 %.
Lastly, my customers and I have one thing in common. We both like my style. The customer will only ask me to paint the backdrop if they only 100% in love with my work.
My name is Slavomir and I own Hand Painted Backdrops
Email - Sk@skphotoart.co.uk | Mobile - 07883341365