Backdrops have traditionally come from the theatre. Originally they were painted cloths hung to form the definition of the back of the scene or set. The painting was recognisable as part of the scene.
In modern photography a backdrop has taken on a more specific meaning. In most cases the backdrop is set up using two three-legged tall stands. Suspended between them is a bar upon which the backdrop cloth is hung. In some more sophisticated systems the hanging is actually paper on a roll. The roll is pulled out during the shoot. Then, once the shoot is finished either the paper is rolled up again if it is undamaged or torn off and discarded.
Backdrops normally have simple, weak patterns or solid colour so as not to draw the eye off the subject.
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