DIY Magnetic Backdrop System
This post is how I made a DIY magnetic backdrop system. For years I had been struggling with hanging backdrops on a single backdrop stand. I have tried many types of backdrops; poly-paper, vinyl, “dreamweave”, and fabric. Typically, I would ride the struggle bus every time I changed one backdrop to the next. This can be particularly embarrassing when changing out a backdrop in front of clients. I can’t tell you how many times, while taking an extreme amount of time trying to put up a backdrop, a client has offered help or suggestions of how I might do it faster. This system remained for a long time because of space constraints. I really didn’t have any other option unless I wanted to completely reconfigure my space.
Here is how I used to hang my backdrops…
This is a dreamweave backdrop from https://www.intuitionbackgrounds.com/.
As you can see from this image, the top of the backdrop is attached to the stand with clamps, while the bottom of the backdrop is clamped to a 2×4 to hold it down. Often the 2×4 would flip over just as I had finally gotten it to hang straight! So frustrating! Getting a backdrop to hang just right with this method is just not easy nor is it efficient. In the last few years of working in my studio, I knew that I would be moving. I was determined to use a magnetic backdrop system in my new studio. After 9 years of business in Southern California, my family and I relocated to the suburbs near Portland, Oregon.
The workshop area of our new home was converted into a studio space. Although not huge, the 16×25 space is more than twice the size of my old space. The main goal of the new space was to have a large magnetic backdrop system that could hang varying sizes of backdrops both large and small. Other photographers have posted on different ways of using a magnetic system to hang backdrops. One photographer had her husband imbed huge metal sheets into the wall and then drywalled over this. This method was too expensive and required a handy spouse, which although I love him dearly, my husband is not handy. Another photographer used strips of metal attached to the wall at different heights. This is a good idea, but I didn’t like the look of the strips and I didn’t want to worry about exact positioning of the backdrops.
How I now hang my backdrops…
The best solution for me was to create a grid of metal sheets large enough to hold 10′ backdrops. I am also able to have a 3-roller paper backdrop system above the magnetic wall, which allows me to have two backdrop systems in one space. The backdrops can be positioned at different heights depending on the height of my subject. For example, with newborns, I might want to have more of the backdrop on the floor and less on the wall. For an adult, I might want to position the backdrop higher and not even have it touch the floor.
I purchased 12 of these 2’x3′ galvanized sheet metal from Lowe’s. They can be found here https://www.lowes.com/pd/IMPERIAL-24-in-x-3-ft-Galvanized-Steel-Sheet-Metal/3234805.
You will also need to purchase sheet metal screws in order to mount them to the wall. Here is a tip: Pre-drill the holes into the sheet metal before you attempt to screw them to the wall to save frustration. I was able to mount all of these by myself, but an extra set of hands would help make the job go more easily. The edges of the metal sheets were a bit sharp. In order to avoid any accidents with little ones in my studio, I covered the edges with 3M HVAC tape. You can find that here https://www.lowes.com/pd/3M-1-88-in-W-x-150-ft-L-HVAC-Tape/4009603. For a little over $150, I was able to create this wall that I can easily and quickly hang backdrops on.
Here is a close-up of the tape:
DIY Magnetic Backdrop Stand: Mounting the Backdrops with Magnets
Finally, I needed to purchase magnets to hold up the backdrop. I purchased the magnets on the right first and the magnets on the left second. I purchased all of my magnets from Amazon. The magnets on the left are much stronger, and I recommend purchasing those if you are going to hang anything other than polypaper. You can find them here https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07R3XGY9J/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 I found that the magnets on the right were not strong enough to hold my fabric backdrops.
If you are a photographer and want to make your own magnetic wall, I hope this helps you with your project. You can view my work here. https://gretchenbarros.com