Photography Advice: Making a floor to shoot on.

So this one is for my fellow photographers out there.  Hopefully you have got to the point in your journey where you realise light is the most important element when creating photographs. Maybe you have also realised that your "studio" is in your head, it's the skills and experience you have to shape and use light so you can shoot anything you like anywhere.   

 

If that is the case this is for you, one of the problems I have when I shoot out and about is the floor or ground.  I'm always able to find a clean wall or backdrop to shoot "studio" style pictures anywhere here are some examples:

 A beautiful kitchen wall

A beautiful kitchen wall

 A rock face in a old quarry turned nature reserve

A rock face in a old quarry turned nature reserve

Unfortunately, it's never easy to find a nice piece of floor to stand my subject on.  Maybe it's terrible 80s carpet, or maybe it's lovely carpet but a little worn, regardless of what the problem is I alway wish I had more control over what my subject was standing on when I'm out in their homes.

Now I do have a big grey canvas studio backdrop and I can have them stand on that but I much prefer a more solid floor because frequently the vinyl can show creases where the subject stands and it also gets scuffed which leads to lots of post processing work removing marks.

I have tried a few things over the years but they are always too bulky and complicated.

 

It was when hanging out with the wonderful Sue Bryce's Facebook group that I had a great idea.  One photographer showed a picture of some fake skirting boards her husband made to help hide the seam between her canvas backdrop and the floors in clients homes.  

 

I thought it was creative and ingenious.  My second thought was why stop there? Why not have a fake floor too?

 

So I headed off to B&Q (a DIY store here in the UK) to have a look about for ideas.  My first idea was a big piece of lightweight wood I could paint.  Unfortunately, it was going to take a lot of time and effort to make, it would be very heavy and not in anyway portable. It would also get ruined as it was used.

 

I needed a real floor, tough and durable, but light and portable. I went over to the wood floor  section, and began absent mindedly messing around with the samples.  While playing with the way the modern laminate connects it hit me.  I could have a foldable floor!

 

If you are attempting this yourself make sure the wood flooring you use has a hinging type of locking mechanism, like so:

 

 

It's hard to see here but the most important factor here is that the wood bends upwards when you are locking it in, then gravity holds it in place on the floor.  This is vital for the next step. Just to reiterate, if it was laid down assembled it should be bendable upwards so the pretty sides are getting closer together, but not bendable downwards so the rear sides could bend closer together.  Have a play about with the samples in your own wood floor store and you will see what I mean.

 

Once you have a pack of wood, I got 2 metres squared for £20, then you need to get some strong duct tape. Any colour is ok, you will only see it when transporting the floor.

 

When you get home, find a big open space, ideally something that won't scuff the new floor and get a knife, anything will do even a cutlery knife is ok.

 

Follow the pack instructions and assemble the floor but do it upside down.

 

Once everything is in place start making strips of tape across the back to hold the panels tightly in place like so:

 Ignore the odd squares in the corner, they are just scrap bits I left stuck on.

Ignore the odd squares in the corner, they are just scrap bits I left stuck on.

I assembled mine bit by bit in two parts and joined them up in the top, middle and bottom.  For the top and bottom, I left a lot of slack and stuck the tape to itself so it would create a tab, or handle to carry it with.

If you like though you could assemble the whole thing with tape and then cut it in the middle if needed with the knife,  maybe even make an accordion design?  But be warned the more folds you have the more assembly will be required when you bring it out to shoot.  So I settled on one split, folding in the middle.

 This was a test half way through construction.  Can you see the seam? 

This was a test half way through construction.  Can you see the seam? 

Also, be warned that while it is beautiful it is heavy and a little unwieldy.  In the making of this floor I was not injured at all, but I did manage to crush a toe with it when moving it around my studio, mostly because I didn't have a sensible place to keep it after I made it.

Keep your eyes peeled on my work in future, this floor will feature a fair bit.  I hope you have a go yourself and remember you can choose any kind of colour too.  Any questions on this please get in touch and as always a like would be appreciated :)