May 022015

If you’re going to be taking group pictures at a small or major event, it would be wise to follow the advice of Benjamin Franklin, who said: “By failing to prepare, you’re preparing to fail.”

Some of these events are literally once-in-a-lifetime occasions. Your preparation and planning may be well worth the time spent and in the end you will be very happy you put in that time and effort. And sometimes planning can be more than half the fun!


A step and repeat banner is a backdrop display that has one or more sponsor logos repeated in a step or diagonal alternating pattern.

This means that no matter who is photographed, the company name or logo will always be seen.

The purpose of this backdrop is to emphasize a brand name, sponsor or sports team name during photo opportunities at media press conferences, red carpet events and special events.

These banners are also made to make the background more attractive. They have the power to transform any event into an official red carpet affair by creating an eye-catching ambiance.

These photos will persist for years on the web and in print, so attention to the design is very important, as well as the lighting and angles of the photography.

It is a good idea to invest in a high-quality backdrop with an excellent design and the correct lighting set-up. It is also good to review these basic set-up tips.



How many people will be at your event? And more importantly, how many people would you like to take a picture of in front of the backdrop? The 8×8 banner size is the most popular size backdrop, but an 8×4 will do for smaller events and an 8×10 or 8×12 is your best bet for larger events.


First and foremost, please make sure the banner is seamless. The last thing you want is two pieces sewn together with a huge seam down the middle.

MATTE – reduce glare

You do not want a glossy banner material as this will cause your background to be shiny and produce a glare which is not good for photos! Make sure the material is matte and not gloss.


Although the banner material is matte in itself, the bright white of the material may produce a strong glare. To prevent this, you can add a slight gray to the background although it will still appear as a white background. This will help with the glare.



Events look professional when there is a theme and all the colors match and coordinate. Make sure to incorporate these colors in your banner.


Decide which logos you would like features. Choose anywhere from 2-4 logos. No more than 5-6 logos look good on an 8×8 backdrop. Make sure to include YOUR company logo. You can sometimes get so wrapped up with deciding which sponsor’s logos to put on the banner that you forget about your own! Pick your own logo, any partner’s logos, event logos and then the sponsor’s logos.

A celebrity always wears a new dress at every event. Not only does she want to buy a new dress, stay fashionable and look stunning on the carpet, but she also wants to differentiate “time” in photographs. As an extreme example, if she wore the same dress to 10 different events and got her picture taken at each one, someone looking at the photos later would think she was only at ONE event.  She showed up to ten different events at different times but it only appears as if she went to one. This is not good for the press and public relations.

The step and repeat banner is similar to a dress in this way. It sets the time. It shows the event. It shows the sponsors. It is unique. Therefore, having the actual event or location logo is important. For example, if the event is at the Grammy’s, you may want to have that logo included. If the event is at a posh club, you may want to have the club’s name and logo added.


What should be printed on the banner? There are many standard step and repeat patterns to choose from. You may also choose not to go with a typical pattern and choose something a bit different or wild. Look at different designs before you commit.


Make sure the logos are not too close together. Also, make sure there is not too much blank space between the logos. A professional designer in this field will be able to help you with a layout.


Logos which are pixelated, blurry and fuzzy will ruin the look and appear very unprofessional. Make sure your logos are large with a high-resolution. If you want absolutely no pixelation with a sharp and clean print, use “Vector” logos. With “vector” graphics, you can scale the graphic ANY SIZE and it will not pixelate or distort the graphic. Vector graphics and logos print very cleanly with no pixelation and look very professional!


The logos can be different sizes.  Realize that you will be looking at the pattern on a small computer screen but that the printed banner will be very large. A typical logo size is about 9” wide to 11” wide. Logos that are box-shaped tend to look better if they are smaller – about 5-7” wide.

Logos that are low-quality and a bit pixelated should be made smaller. Logos that are very crisp and clear can be made larger.

Decide which logo is the most important and make that logo larger than the others.


Once the banner is printed, it should be rolled up on an 8’ long tube. This prevents it from wrinkling and creasing. If you fold the banner like you would fold a sheet, prominent creases will form.  To get rid of these, you have to let the banner hang for a few hours up to a few days to fully get out the wrinkles.

If you plan on using the banner again, make sure to stored it rolled up in its tube.


The lighting of the backdrop in regards to flash photography must be considered.  Flash photography is the biggest problem.  It is difficult to control the lighting when many photographers are shooting away simultaneously.

Consider hiring a professional photographer who is experienced in taking pictures of people in front of event backdrops and who is familiar with lighting and angles.

You may want to complete the set up beforehead to test the background lighting and angles.

Take a picture of the banner and celebrity figure at an angle to avoid a perpendicular photo shot. A face-on shot will create a bright glare on the photo.

Make sure not to take a picture of the edge of the banner. The display stand is not the most attractive.

Beware of shadows! Adjust the lighting and person so as not to create a large shadow.

Basic-basic tips:

1) Make sure you have everything.

Verify that the batteries in your camera as well as the spare batteries are FULLY CHARGED.   If you’re going to be shooting indoors, also take the battery charger. Determine if you could possibly need any accessories like a tripod, extra lens, filters, etc., and then pack them up. Open the camera and check if the memory is loaded. Estimate how much shooting you’ll be doing, and take with at least twice that amount of memory. (Nothing is more depressing than an incredible photo opportunity but… no more memory!)

2) Prepare

Prepare for the event by thinking about every photograph you want to take and what kind of photography pose(s) you would like to capture. Consider who, where, how, and the type of environment. Thinking about it beforehand will always produce better results.

3) Take Multiple Photographs

Take multiple shots of each pose (remember, digital memory is reusable, a.k.a. “free”). Regardless of what you say or do, people will blink. And don’t count on spotting small problems on the tiny camera LCD screen.

4) Check the LCD Screen

Check the digital camera’s LCD screen only for general framing of the picture, extreme movements and confirmation that all faces can be seen.  Do not use the LCD screen for any fine review of the picture! (That is what your computer is for.)

5) Funny Phrases

Have some funny phrases (or something humorously appropriate to your group) handy to use just before you take the photo.  Don’t use them when setting up for the shot. And, don’t use the same phrase all the time. Throw in funny anecdotes, phrases, names, words that you know your group will find more amusing than “cheese.” A natural smile looks four times better than a fake one.


Make sure to allow enough time to properly set up your banner, red carpet, lighting and stanchions and rope. Time constraints seem to be a natural part of event set-up. Just remember that if you take the proper time and measures, the results will be there for years as photos are timeless.


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