This Westcott Backdrop Stand review and the final celebrity portraits are courtesy of photographer Michael Herb of Michael Herb Photography in Las Vegas, Nevada.
We have all been there, at the crossroads between quality and price. Do you save a few bucks and risk it or do you lay down the cash and buy into quality? It may seem like an easy choice to some but it really isn’t. A lot of photographers, myself included, start out with little to no money and often skimp on quality in order to get the necessary gear. The cheap route nearly always leads to having to replace that cheap gear with the gear you’ve been eyeballing from the start. You know, that gear you put in your B&H wishlist the second you got serious with photography! I think we often overlook the importance of the support gear. We always want the best glass or the newest camera but what about the gear that holds all that up? Ever have a stand come crashing down with a $500.00 strobe on it? I have! And, I’m pretty sure my stomach hit the ground before the light did!
When I started out, I bought the absolute cheapest gear I could find. Well, that is after I grew out of my stick-in-a-can, light stand phase! I remember buying my first strobe kit only to have nearly everything break, bend, snap, twist, or flat out stop working. However, there was one piece of gear that came with that kit that outshined all of the others! What was it you ask? A white, shoot-through Westcott umbrella. The kit it came with has long since gone to that place where gear goes when it dies: a bin in my parents garage. However, that umbrella… It’s still in my kit and I use it often!
Recently, I had been hired to shoot promo photos for a new Las Vegas show. Part of my job would be to capture high quality, versatile portraits of the History Channel’s Pawn Stars. I knew I couldn’t walk into that shoot with my Home Depot DIY backdrop stand. I needed quality. I needed strength. Above all, I needed reliability. I looked at several different stands, both online and locally. Bad reviews and cheap construction plagued almost all my choices. I had all but given up when I remembered my old Westcott umbrella and how it was now 5 years old and still going strong. I decided to give Westcott a try and I couldn’t be happier. Not only does it go nearly 14 feet in the air, but it also collapses and fits into a bag small enough to not require a flatbed to transport it. It’s also light enough to not require a team lift sticker, workman’s comp insurance or a back brace! It sets up and breaks down with ease in minutes.
With so many things to think about during the shoot, from lighting, to exposure, posing, and making sure not to take up too much time, it was nice to know the backdrop wasn’t going to come crashing down on the old man! All in all, the the 9014 backdrop stand passes my over critical and often crazy standards.