Until very recently, all of my photography has been on location. This means that have never really used a studio. As an experiment, I built a simple studio in my living room to experiment. Parts were a success, and parts need additional work. Here’s a sample photo, only lightly edited, from that experiment.
The backdrop stand I made from two pieces of half-inch conduit set in Quickrete in buckets. I used another piece of conduit for the cross piece, and a pair of connected conduit hangers to hold the crosspiece. If there’s sufficient demand, I’ll take pictures of all of the pieces. I held the backdrop on the crosspiece with simple 1-inch clamps. The whole set of materials cost under $30 (I forget how much) at a local hardware store. If I was doing it again, I’d get slightly larger buckets for improved stability, but what I have worked OK.
What did not work
At the hardware store, I purchased a 9×12 ft muslin drop cloth. I had thought it was a great idea because it was heavy (I had read about people’s problems with some muslin being too thin). This certainly had no problems with transparency. However, like most (all?) muslin, it really wrinkles. I was hoping the depth-of-field and/or overexposing it would take care of the wrinkles. Not always.
There were two reasons that the wrinkles were problems. I had a dedicated backdrop light, but it was not quite good enough for the job. I needed it to produce better diffused light, but all my light-softening devices were in use for the model(s). Yet one more thing on the to-buy list (plus more light shaping options). In some cases, I was able to over-expose the muslin, and the problems went away. However, because of problem number two, not quite enough distance between the model(s) and the backdrop, there were many times when the light reflecting back from the backdrop was a problem and it had to be toned down. In 20-20 hindsight, I could have lowered the crosspiece to gain more room in front, especially when I was shooting just the shorter model. However, the real solution is to get different material for the backdrop. A quick Google search led me to multiple companies who sell backdrops that do not wrinkle, and they are not too expensive (around $100-150).
Next photo shoot, I will think about whether or not having a backdrop with me would be useful or not. It is yet more stuff for me (or my assistant) to carry, and the bucket with concrete is not too portable. Yes, I know about light stands and crosspieces. I have one light stand, but I tend to use it for holding a light, diffuser, or reflector. I use tripods (I own several of varying sizes) for holding other lights. Plus, I have a voice-activated carbon-based bipod that holds lights and can even adjust them as needed.