As a Portrait Photographer, I've dreamed of owning an Oliphant backdrop for years. I would look at images created by Annie Leibovits, Sue Bryce, and other masters in the photography industry, and admire the character that these backdrops added to their images.
What is an "Oliphant backdrop" and why are they so special? Every one of these canvas backdrops is hand-painted by request, giving each drop a unique life of its own. Compared to a solid background, these works of art contain depth and texture, bringing a beautiful, subtle essence to photographs. "Oliphant" comes from Sarah Oliphant, the woman/artist/genius behind each and every backdrop.
I was fortunate enough to have her paint my first canvas drop about a year ago, which was a warm gray (seen in the two portraits below). I consider it one of the most beautiful things in my studio and I can see me still using it for years and years to come. You might be thinking, "Wouldn't you get tired of using the same backdrop over and over?". By changing the distance between my subject, light, and the backdrop, I am able to significantly change how dark or light it looks. Also, I actually like that the backdrop's texture and tone can be seen as a common thread throughout a lot of my work. So no, I actually kind of love it the more I shoot on it!
In fact, I love it so much, I contacted Sarah last month to have her create a second one for me, this time with a mix of golds and greens. I happened to be traveling to New York City the same time that my drop was supposed to be finished, so she invited me down to her studio to say hello and check it out in person.
I asked to get a photo with Sarah, and she suggested we sprawl out on my new backdrop- what a fun way to break it in!
She still had the colors and everything out for my drop, I love the greens and golds. When I'm shooting on it, I will be able to pull cool or warm tones into the image, making it really versatile.
I felt like her student as she was walking me through her workflow and techniques- a lot more goes into one of these backdrops than you'd probably imagine!
Visiting the studio and meeting Sarah was one of the highlights of my year. I just hung my new backdrop in the studio and I can't wait to shoot on it. Keep an eye on my Instagram and galleries and you'll start seeing this beautiful green/gold backdrop debut in my images!