White backgrounds and their versatility

The White background is one of the most versatile backgrounds for photography. Let’s have a look at two setups

The reason why the white background is so versatile is that how it behaves to light. If you are familiar with the inverse square law in lighting, then you can essentially turn a white background to any shade! ranging from pure white to pitch black.

It all depends on how you light it. I won’t be writing about pure white in this post since there are billions of blogs describing how to achieve a pure white background. Let’s have a look at grey shades.

1. Light Grey

While making this photo, I initially placed the light as I would begin with. This spilled a lot of light on the background, making it very bright. However, for this look I wanted it to look a little dull and hence I moved the model and the light farther away till I got the shade exactly as I wanted.

2. Dark Grey

For this look, I rotated the light inwards, towards the camera, till no more light was spilling on the background. There were no flags used to avoid spilling (Although that can be done and a similar look achieved). This instantly gives an almost black background.


There you have it. A white background is absolutely one of the most versatile ones to work with. Since it can give you every shade of grey, depending on how you light it. It is a personal preference how dark or light you would want your background to be. I light it depending on the subjects skin and their clothes. usually a bit contrasting. Yet I keep adjusting till the light feels balanced and natural. One thing to consider however is space since when working with a white background, you would need space to keep the separation of the subject from the background. In case you don’t have so much space, you can use flags or V Flats. Or simply work with a mid grey background. That’s for a future post!

Hope that was helpful. Let me know in the comments which are your favourite colours or shades for the backgrounds.