How to Make a Portable Black-and-White V-Flat

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If you’ve ever looked at a V-Flat for photography and thought to yourself: “I bet I could make one of those myself,” this tutorial is for you. In the below video, photographer Nicole Bedard shows you how to make a DIY (do-it-yourself) portable black-and-white V-Flat that will cost a fraction of what you’d spend on a new one.

The best part is that there’s no painting necessary and it uses foam board so it’s easy to move around your photo studio, or to bring on an assignment. But first, a little background on what a V-Flat is and how to use one in photography.

“A flat, in theater speak, is a background that’s easily movable,” William Sawalich wrote in a Digital Photo tutorial from a few years back. “They can be almost any size, but in a photographic studio a common size for flats is 4×8 feet. Hinge two flats together and they’ll stand on their own in a V shape. Voila, the V-Flat.”

Most photographers use the V-Flat as a neutral background for portraits, typically with one side white and the other side black. Master photographer Irving Penn famously used a cramped, folded V-Flat for a series of photos of celebrities and artists that became known as Penn’s “corner portraits.”

In the 5-minute, step-by-step tutorial below, Bedard shows you how to make a black-and-white V-Flat using the following materials:

  • 40 x 60 3/16-inch-thick sheets of foam board (three white & three black) custom cut to 40 x 40 inches (keep the remaining material to make your 4th panel)
  • White gaffer tape
  • Black gaffer tape
  • Water-based contact cement adhesive (to join the 20-inch pieces together to form a 40 x 40 square
  • Gorilla Clear Grip
  • Gorilla Spray Adhesive (to join the white and black 40 x 40 squares together)
  • Velcro

“The trick is the tape hinge I use that allows you to fold it up and take it on-location or organize your studio,” Bedard explains. Watch below as she walks you through the following steps to make the V-Flat:

#1 Intro

#2 First Step: Foam Board

#3 Tape/Hinge Method Used

#4 How to Build the V-Flat

#5 Final Result

Check out Bedard’s full tutorial and for additional help read our story on “How to Build and Use a V-Flat.”

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