Product Spotlight: PepperLu

May 19th, 2014

I recently had the opportunity to try out two fun new backdrops from PepperLu. These aren’t just any backdrops—these are photos of intricate designs that make it look like you spent hours being crafty and beautifying your wall.

Most of my work happens on-location in clients’ homes or outside, so I was pleased with how light and portable the 5’ x 8’ paper backdrops were. Even though they are paper backdrops they really feel more like plastic. It’s a very substantial material, and after several setups and take-downs in tight spaces I haven’t had any issues with tearing or creasing.

Unlike seamless backdrops there is a very distinct seam and some blank paper at the bottom, so you will need to account for this in your setup. You can tuck the extra under a floor drop if you’re using one, or get a piece of primed trim from a hardware store and clamp it to the base of the backdrop to make it look even more like a real wall.

First backdrop: Wallflowers

I set up a little home studio to test these out before using them with clients. The backdrop is clamped to the trim, and a wood paper is taped to the floor. North-facing windows on either side provide a nice, soft light.

This paper is really impressive. The print quality is quite amazing, and the matte surface photographs beautifully.

I did find with the Wallflowers backdrop that I needed to bump up the contrast of the backdrop a bit in post to give the flowers a more realistic depth, or else they looked a little flat. Next time I use this backdrop, I’ll increase my depth of field to capture more of the true color in camera.

Cloudy Day Airplanes

The second backdrop I got was Cloudy Day Airplanes.

I was almost expecting this to be a kit for hanging all the clouds and garlands yourself because the photos on the website look so realistic. When this backdrop arrived and I unrolled it, I was amazed that the airplanes, clouds and banners looked three-dimensional even in person. You may want to allow some extra time in your session for little ones to take it all in!

This backdrop has soft shadows that work nicely with a natural light setup. I realized I’d need to be conscious of the shadows when planning the lighting—I didn’t want my lighting to clash with the lighting used to take the background photo. This was less of a concern with the Wallflowers backdrop since the design doesn’t stand out as far from the wall, making the shadows less noticeable.

Client Test

Next I took the backdrop with me to a client session and set it up in a spot with nice window light, in front of a wall of closets. The room had a neutral carpet, so I didn’t bother setting up the floor drop; instead I curled the bottom back behind the piece of trim out of view and clamped the backdrop to the piece of trim as before.

The kids loved it, and the clients were happy to have their closet wall temporarily turned into a fun backdrop for their kids’ photos. After the session as I was packing up the gear, the three-year-old asked, “Do we get to keep this?”

Bottom line: I was very impressed with these lightweight, whimsical, high-quality backdrops. I love how easy it is to turn a simple setup into something special, and most importantly, my clients loved the result. They are priced at $70-120 (depending on the size and material), and I won’t hesitate to add more PepperLu backdrops to my collection in the future.

A tech expert turned photographer, Hari Simons brings a fresh perspective to portrait photography. Working mostly with natural light, her images are slices of real life. In a landscape of portrait photographers, Hari’s honest and free approach to portraiture sets her apart from the crowd. You can view her online portfolio here: