Sometimes The Best Backdrop Is No Backdrop

Pop Quiz:

You hired a photo booth, but you forgot to mention that there's very little space for the booth (certainly not enough room to put up a backdrop), the setup is outside, nowhere near a power outlet, and you need the booth running for a time duration that includes full sun all the way through to pitch darkness...what do you do?


Light meters are your friend

Light meters are your friend

You thank your lucky stars that you hired the Dudes...and that they bring light meters (and know how to use them)! 

The Full Story

The Dudes were recently invited to shoot a VIP event at 100 Acre Winery in Napa Valley. Little did they know that their designated 'spot' was literally a 'spot', nowhere near an outlet, and without room for a backdrop stand. But no matter, the Dudes are pros! And pros are always fact, we were happy to be able to work our photographer muscles for a change. Besides, as amazing as those black sequin backdrops look, nothing compares to a Napa Valley winery. 

And as if the stunning valley wasn't breathtaking enough, the sunset had to saunter in like BAM and let everyone know we somehow get to be alive and existing on this beautiful, beautiful, beautiful planet. 

It was beautiful. Did we mention it was beautiful? (Check out all the beautiful here).

So what's the big deal?

Believe it or not—not everyone who might be hired to take pictures at a party would have reacted this way. When we asked our guests to stand <gasp> in front of the sun, many of them tried to stop us.

Here's just a few quotable things we heard (and one we imagined):

You can’t shoot into the sun!
— Guest
Guys, I just tried to take that picture with my phone. It won’t work.
— Guest
Don’t you want to be on the other side? We’re standing IN FRONT OF THE SUN.
— Guest
How in the f%&* am I supposed to shoot this?
— Most photo booth operators

Fortunately for everyone involved, we had our trusty meters, our backup battery powered strobes, and the wherewithal to balance the constantly changing sun from shot-to-shot as it dipped down over the valley. And while this lovely couple wasn't able to get this shot with their iPhones, we managed to pull it off without much of a problem:

 See, that’s why we don’t call Two Dudes’ employees “photo booth operators.” We are not “operators.” We are photographers. And yes, we know our way around a sunset. We know our way around just about any lighting situation you could throw at us. That’s part of why we love photography. 

Adjusting natural and artificial light on the fly is one of the hardest things photographers have to learn how to do—it’s like a complicated dance step. It ain’t easy, but we know how to get down.

sunset portrait napa valley winery san francisco photo booth

After the party comes the after party

So we had a blast during sunset, working that ambient light until the very last. The images turned out amazing. There’s something about working with natural surroundings that makes the resulting images just feel alive. 

And as the evening progressed and the sun disappeared, our beautiful valley backdrop was gone, so we used the party itself as our new tableau. Strings of twinkly lights and ambient heaters with active flames created a fun and lively scene that mirrored the fun everyone was having at the event. 

But first...we metered.

So, if you’re planning on hosting an event at a gorgeous location, we encourage you to think about using the natural surroundings as your backdrop. After all, you spent money to pay for a beautiful scene—wouldn’t it be nice if you had photos that preserved that beauty? 

The bottom line is, backdrops are great. They’re fun and clean and they make things easy. One thing they aren’t, though, is unique. If you use a backdrop at your event, your photos are gonna look pretty similar to anyone else who chose that backdrop for their event. When you go with a natural backdrop, though, your photos will have something nobody else’s will ever have: the moment.