Introduction: Cheap Photography Studio Backdrop Mount

Picture of Cheap Photography Studio Backdrop Mount

This is my first instructable and is being written after the fact, so in-progress photos will not be seen. Instead, thrill to the exciting hand-drawn schematics! This instructable will show you how you too can create a quick, effective photography studio backdrop mount for around $10.

Step 1: Justification?

My girlfriend and I have been dabbling in photography for about a year now and were looking to set up a backdrop mount in our house. The requirements for creating this mount were threefold:
1. It must be cheap (the mounts I've seen for sale online were insanely pricy)
2. It must be able to support the kinds of backdrops we had in mind, such as rolls of seamless professional studio backdrop paper
3. It must be unobtrusive, so we can walk through that part of the house without having to smash through paper like a football team at the superbowl.

Step 2: Supplies!

Supplies needed:

(1) 10' length of 1.25" PVC pipe. $4
(1) 1.25" PVC coupling. $0.50
(2) 1.25" PVC endcaps (optional). $0.67 ea
(4-6) links of smallish chain. I used #12 jackchain which I had lying around so this was free, or you can buy a package of it for around $5
(2) 1/8" S-hooks. $1.99 for a pack of 6
(2) small eyescrews (the eyes of the ones I used are around 0.5"). $0.99 for a box of 6
(2) large eyescrews (the eyes of the ones I used are around 1"). $0.99 for a box of 2

For tools you'll just need a pair of needlenose pliers, a tape measure and a drill with assorted bits.

Step 3: Case the Joint

First and foremost, find an appropriate spot for your backdrop. Against a wall is good, whereas middle of the room (or anywhere there is a draft) is probably not so good.
Once you've found your spot, locate a ceiling beam near one of the outside ends of your area. You can tap a hammer gently on the ceiling, drive a small test-nail, or use an electronic studfinder to locate the nearest ceiling beam.
Measure 6" from the wall and mark the beam with a pencil. From that point, make a second mark 112" over (still 6" from the wall)and test that spot to verify that it will also be driving into a beam (ceiling beams are generally 16" apart...what you want to mark is a beam that is just over 9' away from the other mark, so 7 beams over will be 112").

Step 4: Drill 'em

Picture of Drill 'em

Time to whip out your trusty drill. Using a bit slightly smaller than the shaft of the LARGE eyescrew, drill a hole into each of the two marks you made in the previous step (assuming you found a couple of suitable beams).
On your PVC pipe, make a mark 4" from each end and drill a hole into each mark, using a bit slightly smaller than the shaft of the SMALL eyescrew. Don't worry about having the holes line up with each other; it doesnt matter at this point.
Hand-tighten the small eyescrews into the two holes in the PVC pipe, and the large eyescrews into the two holes in your ceiling. The needlenose pliers will come in handy here, especially for the ceiling screws.

Step 5: Saw, See?

Picture of Saw, See?

Using your hacksaw or some similar implement of destruction, saw your PVC pipe in half, so you'll have two identical 5' lengths with eyescrews embedded in one end of each. Then, join the two halves by sticking em into the PVC coupling (the bits that were in the middle should go into the coupling, not the ones with the eyeholes).
The reason for this is so if you are using rolls of seamless photography backdrop paper you will be able to break the shaft in twain easily to change out the rolls.

Step 6: Hang 'em High!

Picture of Hang 'em High!

Using your needlenose pliers, pry open your chain and detach (2) 2-link lengths. Hook an s-hook into the small eyehole on each end of the PVC pipe and attach a length of the chain to each one. Hook another s-hook to the other ends of the chain lengths and attach each one to the large eyehooks in the ceiling. Slap some endcaps on the pipe and you're finished! You now have a durable photo studio backdrop mount that's the perfect size for hanging a 9' roll of seamless paper.

Thoughts:
- I was worried initially that the small eyehooks in the PVC wouldn't be able to support the weight of a full roll of paper, but it worked out great. If it had been a problem I planned to put a small length of wooden dowel into each end of the PVC to give the eyehooks something to screw into once the thread got past the plastic.
- Smallish plastic-padded clips are perfect for holding the roll of paper up and out of the way when not shooting (see photo). I got two of em for a buck at the dollar store.
- Comments or suggestions are more than welcome!

Comments

StaceyG8 (author)2015-09-11

Thank you for this!! I have been searching for a solution like this for so long. Glad I finally stumbled on your post. I wrote about how I implemented it here, with a few slight changes:
http://www.staceygammonpetphotography.com/diy-studio-photography-backdrop-mount-and-storage-solution/

Battlespeed (author)2014-01-23

Instead of hanging from the ceiling, should be easy to make floor stands or wall mount with PVC.

supkrod (author)2008-12-06

I just put this together in about an hour. It went together with out a hitch. Instead of eye bolts in the ceiling and measuring to find studs I used plant hooks the kind that come with an expanding catch that goes through the ceiling and you tighten it in. That worked great. I didnt want to spend the extra 4 bucks but there were eye bolts that had a nut on the end, put one of these through the cap with a larger hole and maybe some lock tight and youve got a swiveling eye bolt. Thank you for the idea.

tbugg (author)2008-05-02

Hang two of them, one right next to the first, a couple inches higher, then you can have your white and grey seamless hung at the same time and don't have to switch them out when you want to change the background. That's my plan, once I get the storage room in the basement cleared out...

theresanovak (author)2008-03-16

Oooh, ahhh! That looks so cool! I'll have to think about how to use this in my basement with the drop ceiling. Maybe it could mount to the wall.

edji (author)2008-01-08

Very great. I will probably make one for me. Thanks for the idea. Instead of cutting the PVC pipe in the middle (step 5), I think it would be better to cut it near one end of the pipe (but inside the chain part...) That way, it will be easiest to replace the backdrop.

reedzilla (author)edji2008-01-08

yep, I'm sure that would work just fine too....one of the reasons I cut my PVC in half was to be able to fit it in my car for the ride home from the hardware store, so if you have a big enough vehicle that shouldn't be an issue :) thanks for the comment and good luck!

YakDriver (author)2007-05-10

This was a great idea and I just finished building your rig in my garage. After ten years of procrastination, I have cleaned the garage to allow both cars inside and the result has been a very workable indoor studio for days when I don't or can't use the outdoor settings. My thanks for the tips. Harry

reedzilla (author)YakDriver2007-05-11

awesome, glad it worked out for you!

jtobako (author)2007-03-15

how about making it more like a window shade (sans the spring) so that it's a little easier to roll up? instead of screws into the pvc, how about a ring or larger piece of pvc so that the paper can be taped onto the pole and rolled up without risking wrinkles.

reedzilla (author)jtobako2007-03-15

the larger piece of PVC idea might work...I'm not too worried about wrinkles on the part that goes down onto the floor (plus, the paper's long enough that if it does get trashed near the bottom I can cut it off and have a fresh area to work with). Rolling and unrolling the paper with the design I posted is pretty easy (for me at least; I'm around 6'9"); it has a little bit of space to spin around the pvc pole. The ring idea you mentioned would be cool to implement with some kind of crank around one side....hmmmmm....

TangMu (author)2007-03-15

I think all pvc should be cut with the aid of a bear suit, or at least the eyepatch

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