A bit of wainscoting for some studio flair!

I’ve been dreaming about it for more than a year, talking about it for months, envisioning its future as Kentucky thaws into summer and, overall, glad it is finally here! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Abanathy Photography, LLC now has a bit of wainscoting within its realm.

At first, I did not know what to call this stuff. I had seen it in other photographers’ work, been around it from time to time, and could picture it in my mind. The best thing I could come up with to define it was “half wall” or “half paneled wall”.

Obviously, once I attempted a Google search for “half wall”, I found only a handful of images of what I truly wanted nestled within the sea of actual 4-foot, interior half walls and breakfast bars. Nope, I knew this fancy paneling had to have some kind of fancy name, likely European. So, one day I did some more digging and found the correct term: Wainscoting! (Wikipedia: Panelling and Wainscoting-No, it was not invented in Wainscott!).

This “official name” discovery was made during our slow months following Christmas as I was actually drawing up the list of supplies necessary to get this done. So, with a fancy name, a shopping list and two seconds in hand, I knew it was do or die time! Following a few trips to Lowe’s (let’s face it, guys, no large project is going to be completable after just one trip to Lowe’s) I took advantage of that one week of great weather we had just before the winds brought the first round of minus digits, snow and ice. In fact, it was hard to believe, as I stood there before a mound of snow in front of our garage, that I had been standing there, before a chop saw, only few days prior in a t-shirt. But I digress.

I know, for most photographers, it would be so much easier and practical to check the multitude of backdrop websites and simply purchase a roll-up backdrop featuring wainscoting. Well, the fact that a good one of this size would cost almost as much as the real deal not withstanding, a roll-up backdrop might have worked except for a few factors:

First, we had a back wall nestled between a door and window just begging for something more than flat gray and neglect. Our studio is small, but the walls are canvases waiting to be transformed into something great! We already have red and white bricks and barn wood. This seemed a wonderful addition to the family.

Second, I like the weight of the real thing. With a backdrop, it might be easy to roll up and put away, however, you can’t touch it or lean on it, you can’t get realistic shadows/angles with it, and it only allows you to photograph what is already set in stone (a picture of a picture, if you will). A photo backdrop is essentially flat and stationary, I wanted texture and fluidity.

Third, it is as non-intrusive as a paper backdrop would be…and maybe even more so. Even if a backdrop is rolled up, it still must be stored and paper does not react as well to bumps, bangs and weather as does thrice painted wood! And, as our small studio limits me from buying every “You”-friendly piece of Victorian furniture I see, a relatively flat prop built right up against a wall takes up nearly no space and is a welcomed addition!

Fourth, it adds flair to the studio even when not in use! Like I said before, the wall needed something and the door and window was in need of some nice trim. Heck, we even threw in some nice curtains to boot!

And, lastly, let’s not forget one of the more selfish reasons: It requires some math, creativity and wood working by me! I might be a photographer and work heavily with electrons and pixels all day, but, as as dude with tools, it is nice to work with my hands and away from the computer monitor once in a while!

One of our first wainscot models!
One of our first wainscot models!

I can’t wait to put this new wainscoting to use! One of the things I always weigh when contemplating adding something to our studio is versatility. For instance, a backdrop featuring a Christmas tree or fantasy castle might have a few applications, but, for the most part, it is just going to get in my way most of the year. This wainscoting, on the other hand, has multiple uses from kids and pets to brides and boudoir!

And to wrap up, I will let you in on a little secret about this particular wainscoting: Even it is versatile within its design! This summer, I plan to add the final piece when I create its interchangeable top panels. That’s right, even the upper “wallpaper” will be tangibly changeable on this beauty! Now, If I could just get the weather to cooperate, I can get that underway as well…My tools are waiting!