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Can you use curtains for backdrop?

Can you use curtains for backdrop?

Using curtains as a backdrop can be an excellent way to create an attractive background for photoshoots, videos, or live streaming. Curtains come in a wide variety of colors, patterns, textures and materials, allowing you to choose options that suit your aesthetic needs. With some creative styling and proper setup, curtains can make for eye-catching backdrops that don’t require complicated or expensive equipment. Here’s a closer look at using curtains for your next photoshoot, video or live stream backdrop.

Choosing Curtains for Backdrops

When selecting curtains to use as backdrops, consider the following factors:

  • Color – Solid colored curtains in neutral, bright or chroma key colors like green or blue work well. Patterns can also be interesting backdrops.
  • Material – Lightweight fabrics like linen, cotton or polyester flow nicely on camera. Velvet, sequin or brocade curtains offer bold, luxurious textures.
  • Size – Curtains wider than your backdrop area allow for draping and adjustments. Extra length can pool on the floor for a dramatic effect.
  • Opacity – Sheer curtains diffuse light beautifully on camera, while blackout curtains prevent light bleeding for high contrast backdrops.

Measure your backdrop area and shop for curtains sized appropriately. To hide walls or distracting backgrounds, seek wide curtains around 2-3 times the width of your set. For floor-length curtains, measure from the rod height to the floor and add at least 6 extra inches. Sturdy grommet top curtains are easiest to hang securely.

Setting Up Curtain Backdrops

Proper setup is crucial for getting clean, professional looking shots with curtain backdrops. Here are some tips:

  • Mount a sturdy curtain rod at least 6-12 inches wider than your backdrop area using secure hardware. Position high enough for curtains to pool on the floor.
  • Hang curtains evenly and neatly, using clips or ties if needed to keep centered and prevent sagging.
  • Use a steamer to remove any wrinkles or creases which will show on camera.
  • Clamp lights to the rod pointed at the backdrop to illuminate evenly. LED lights work well.
  • Add backdrop stands and crossbars to keep the curtains taut and prevent shadows and wrinkles.

Avoid positioning subjects too close to the backdrop, which emphasizes texture and wrinkles. Place key lights properly to avoid shadows on the backdrop. Ironing curtains and stretching them on a frame provides the most seamless, professional results.

Styling Curtain Backdrops

With some creative styling, you can transform basic curtains into beautiful, artistic backdrops. Consider these styling ideas:

  • Drape in sculptural folds and tie back sections for dimension and interest.
  • Layer contrasting solid and patterned curtains for visual depth and texture.
  • Add props like lanterns, flowers or furniture against the backdrop to enhance the setting.
  • Affix decorations like tassels, ribbons or garlands to the curtain rod for a polished frame.
  • Uplight colored curtains from below to create a moody ombre effect.
  • Shoot through sheer curtains for a soft focus romantic vibe.

Play with positioning your main subject in various spots in front of the backdrop to create different composition and moods. Photographing or filming the backdrop alone and overlaying with your subject in editing opens even more possibilities for creative effects.

Advantages of Curtain Backdrops

Using curtains for photo and video backdrops offers many benefits:

  • Cost effective – Curtains are an affordable backdrop solution versus professional photo backdrops or background setups.
  • Portable – Lightweight curtains are easy to install in different locations or sets for on-location shoots.
  • Aesthetically pleasing – With numerous colors and patterns available, it’s easy to find curtains that suit your visual style.
  • Customizable – Curtains can be layered, draped, decorated and styled for truly unique, creative looks.
  • Simple setup – Basic curtain rods allow for quick backdrop changes and strike.

With minimal equipment needed, curtains are accessible and budget-friendly backdrops for all levels of content creators. The variety of sizes, colors and textures makes the options creatively limitless.

Potential Drawbacks

Using curtains as backdrops also comes with a few potential challenges to consider:

  • Wrinkles and shadows can occur without proper smoothing, lighting and setup.
  • Curtains lack durability of professional backdrops designed for constant use.
  • Patterns and textures show imperfections more than solid colored backdrops.
  • Mounting rod securely requires proper installation skills and hardware.
  • Drapes and fabrics require extra time, effort and skill for flattering styling.

Avoiding issues with wrinkles, lighting inconsistencies and other artifacts requires diligence and practice. For the most flawless results, steam, stretch and frame curtain backdrops if possible. But with care, curtains can create professional, eye-catching photo and video backdrops.

Best Curtain Fabrics for Backdrops

Certain curtain fabrics tend to work better as photo and video backdrops. Ideal fabrics include:

  • Linen – Lightweight linen drapes beautifully with minimal wrinkles and pleasant texture.
  • Cotton – 100% cotton offers good drapability and a soft, matte finish on camera.
  • Polyester – Wrinkle-resistant polyester maintains crisp drapes, though less natural than natural fibers.
  • Velvet – Luxurious velvet lends an elegant, moody richness perfect for portraits.
  • Satin – Shiny and smooth, satin photographs as a high-contrast, upscale backdrop.

In addition to these fabrics, blended materials containing polyester and cotton or linen are good choices for wrinkle-free, full drapes. For patterned backdrops, medium-scale geometric, floral or abstract prints tend to show best on camera. It’s best to avoid curtains with large repeating patterns which can cause distortions, moiré effects, and other artifacts.

Photographing Subjects Against Curtain Backdrops

Using curtains artfully as photo backdrops requires paying attention to shooting details:

  • Light the backdrop separately from your subject to avoid shadows.
  • Position subject at least 2-3 feet from the backdrop to avoid texture distortion.
  • Bounce flashes off the ceiling or use off-camera flash for even, flattering light.
  • Stop down the aperture to around f/8-f/11 to keep drapes in focus but blurred.
  • Frame shots to highlight your curtain’s colors, textures and folds.

When photographing groups, arrange people so heads don’t blend into busy patterns. Posing subjects in front of heavily draped sections or peaking from behind curtains creates dramatic effects. Using wider apertures combined with bounced flash yields a bright subject against a softened, dreamy backdrop. For headshots, focus on faces and allow fabrics to gracefully fall out of focus.

Best Places to Hang Curtain Backdrops

You can hang curtain backdrops in various locations to suit your shoot needs:

  • Home Studio – Use curtain rods or backdrop stands in a dedicated studio room.
  • Living Room – Hang temporary rods in front of large, blank walls.
  • Outdoors – Set up rods or stands outside against fences or buildings.
  • Photo Studios – Many professional studios allow installing backdrop rods and curtains.
  • Event Spaces – Secure rods across banquet halls, ballrooms or other venues.

The ideal space has high ceilings and wide open blank walls or neutral corners. This allows fully extending long curtains while minimizing distracting backgrounds. For outdoor shots, look for areas shaded from direct sunlight to avoid harsh shadows and light discrepancies on the curtains.

Creating Video Backdrops with Curtains

Curtains can make for eye-catching video backdrops for live streams, YouTube videos, TikTok and more. Follow these tips for great looking results:

  • Light curtains separately from main subject with soft diffused light.
  • Frame shots to highlight backdrop details while minimizing busy patterns behind heads.
  • Use wider shots and position talent at a distance to smoothly blur out curtain texture.
  • Add interest with layered curtains, props, mood lighting or special effects.
  • For live streaming, use green screen software to superimpose other images over curtains.

Solid colored curtains are ideal backdrops for chroma keying overlays and visual effects. Patterned fabrics look best in wide establishing shots. Getting flattering light on both subject and backdrop takes practice. Consider asking assistants to adjust drapes and lighting throughout long shooting sessions.

Creative Curtain Backdrop Ideas

Take your curtain backdrops to the next level with these creative concepts:

  • Use patterned sheer panels over solid curtains for extra dimension.
  • Photograph subjects peeking out from behind curtains for a theatrical effect.
  • Tie back alternating sides of panels to make angular, asymmetric patterns.
  • Drape lights inside curtain folds to illuminate from within.
  • Suspend decor like flowers, vines or ornaments from drapery rod.
  • Layer tulle over curtains for a soft romantic veil.

There are endless possibilities for personalizing curtain backdrops and crafting truly unique looks. Experiment with textures, colors, shapes and lighting for an artistic, professional quality background.


Curtains provide an accessible, customizable solution for creating photo and video backdrops on any budget. With proper setup to minimize wrinkles and imperfections, nearly any curtain style can become an eye-catching backdrop. Pay attention to lighting, positioning and aperture settings when photographing subjects. For video, use wider angles and keep distance between talent and backdrop. With creative styling and strategic shooting techniques, curtains offer a versatile blank canvas for all types of media productions and content creation.

Curtain Material Drapeability Wrinkle Resistance Visual Texture
Linen Excellent Low High
Cotton Good Low Medium
Polyester Average High Low
Velvet Good Low High
Satin Average Medium Medium