When picking a photography backdrop, a photographer must consider the appropriate type of material for the setting. Paper rolls and a cotton muslin are the two basic types of photography backdrops.

The primary difference between the two is that a cotton muslin backdrop may be washed and reused numerous times, but paper backgrounds – since they come on a roll – must be replaced pretty quickly.

Of course, there are more distinctions between each type of photography backdrop. This article will discuss the benefits of each kind of backdrop and why you would choose one over the other.

Paper Backdrops

Paper backdrops are constructed from thick paper rolls mounted on pole stands. You could pull the paper backdrop out to the desired length, and you are provided with a seamless photo album book.

You can extend it beyond the floor length to create an infinity sweep or keep it shorter if you are taking pictures for just headshots. After shooting, discard any ripped or soiled lengths, and you can re-roll the paper. With proper care, you can yield a good number of shots from a single paper roll, which makes them pretty economical.

Fashion and portrait photographers frequently utilize paper backgrounds to achieve that impeccable background finish. Because they are wrinkle-free by nature, they make post-processing far more accessible and more efficient. Additionally, clients may desire a clean background, something that a paper backdrop can offer.

Paper backgrounds are available in various colors, so you are sure to find the perfect shade that is appropriate for the shooting situation. Because the rolls weigh approximately 6kg, they are not easily transportable. As a result, paper backgrounds are frequently utilized in studios, where they can be conveniently set up, rolled up, and store.

Cotton Muslin Backdrops

Cotton muslins impart a unique, textured aspect to a background and, because they are non-reflective, they render colors accurately.

One significant advantage of cotton muslins is that it is lightweight and portable. Fold them up and place them in a bag to take with you if you have out-of-studio shoots. This is one of the reasons why photographers prefer to travel with this type of photography backdrop.

While a sturdy and trustworthy stand is required for traveling with muslin backdrops, muslins can be fastened to a wall or an improvised means to keep them up when the need arises. As is the case with seamless paper backdrops, clamps are essential to bring with muslin backdrops for proper support when shooting.

If cotton muslins become dirty during a photoshoot, they can be washed and reused. Muslin backdrops will last for a couple of years if properly cared for and stored.

Muslins, like paper backgrounds, come in a variety of colors, so you can easily experiment with different color schemes to fit your photoshoot theme.

One major disadvantage, though, of a cotton muslin backdrop is that it wrinkles. Unless you want the creased effect in your photographs, you must iron or steam them to remove the wrinkles before the shot. Additionally, you can photograph with a wider aperture and have your subject stand further away from the backdrop to minimize noticeable creases.

When storing cotton muslins, rolling them up rather than folding them can help minimize the creases.

Main Differences Between Paper Backdrop and Cotton Muslin Photography Backdrop


Paper Backdrops

  • Generally, paper backdrops are available in two widths: full and half-width.
  • For a small additional fee, you can have them cut to custom sizes that you would prefer.
  • At some point, with constant photoshoots, the roll will certainly run out, and you will need to purchase a new one.

Cotton Muslins

  • Cotton muslins are available in a variety of sizes, from full-body to just shoulders and above cut for headshots. Of course, the smaller the size, the less expensive it is.
  • Cotton muslins are considerably more affordable than paper backdrops, both in terms of pricing and the fact that they can be washed and reused.

Convenience and Storage

Paper Backdrops

  • Paper backdrop rolls must be stored correctly to avoid squashing the cardboard core and causing creases in the roll.
  • They are more difficult to carry without a vehicle and are therefore better suited for studio use only.
  • If your studio space is limited, you may need to have your paper backdrop rolls specially cut, as they are only available in full and half widths.
  • If your backdrop becomes soiled during a shot, cut off the stained section and put out a new paper roll.

Cotton Muslins

  • Cotton muslins require significantly less storage space than paper rolls, and they can be easily folded or rolled up when not in use.
  • They are lightweight and convenient to carry around, making them ideal for location shoots when a backdrop is required.
  • They are available in a variety of sizes.
  • They are reusable; simply wash them when they become dirty.

Type of Production

Paper Backdrops

  • Ideal for shoots that are high-key
  • Suitable for crisp, seamless backgrounds
  • Available in chroma-key green for use in video shoots.
  • Numerous solid colors are available.

Cotton Muslins

  • Excellent for creating textured backdrops.
  • Available in chroma-key green for use in video shoots.
  • There are fewer solid colors available than with paper backdrops.
  • Available in tie-dye colors for a truly unique look.


The primary accessories you will want to utilize with your backdrops are as follows:

  • Backdrop supports for securing your paper or cotton muslin backdrops
  • Pegs or clamps for securing backdrops or preventing paper rolls from unraveling while on a stand.
  • Sandbags for securing and stabilizing your backdrop stands

Here are a few additional helpful tips for storing your photography backdrop:

Keep your paper roll backdrops upright in their container or plastic covering and in a low-humidity area.

You may remove wrinkles from a cotton muslin backdrop by hanging them up and gently steaming the creases with a steam mop or iron.

The backgrounds and backdrop stand that you choose will ultimately depend on your budget, photography style, and specifications. Whichever you opt to use, both cotton muslins or paper backdrops are an excellent investment for your photoshoots.


Northern girl Laura is the epitome of a true entrepreneur. Laura’s spirit for adventure and passion for people blaze through House of Coco. She founded House of Coco in 2014 and has grown it in to an internationally recognised brand whilst having a lot of fun along the way. Travel is in her DNA and she is a true visionary and a global citizen.

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