Thursday, April 3, 2014

DIY: A faux vintage floor prop for photographers.

Vintage wood floors are really popular for newborn and child photography. Most photographers use large paper prints with a repeating pattern to mimic the raw, yet warm and comfy feeling of an old-fashioned wood floor. Often times, though, printed floors end up looking flat and unnatural because they lack texture and depth. By nature, they're also easily destructible and usually are replaced many times over which becomes pricey.

Well, I have a solution to the paper floor and it's easier than you think.

If you're just a tad-bit handy, then you can make your own set of faux vintage floors on the cheap!  For the 5' x 3' floor in my studio, the total cost (with blowtorch, stains, polyurethane, rags, sandpaper and wood glue) was under $50.  If you already have tools/stain/glue and all you need is wood, then the cost shrinks to $15!  The wood is nothing more than $2.55 cedar fence boards from a big box store.  Completely assembled, the weight is 18 pounds so it's easy to move and store when not in use.

I originally was going to create a post that detailed each step but soon found myself writing a novel.  Instead, I put together a 4 minute video on how to transform new-cedar into vintage-cedar using nothing more than a blowtorch, some sandpaper, and wood stains.

Once the wood is vintage-ized, then all that's left is assembling the planks side-by-side.  Using scrap wood (or more cedar boards cut shorter if you want), affix the boards using wood glue and a lot of weight to hold them together.  Don't touch it for a few hours so that it dries nice and solid.  You can see from the photos below how I assembled my floor with the cross-braces mounted to the bottom:

I literally made this floor in an evening and that includes all the breaks I took in between.  Since I was going for the worn and weathered look, there was no need to perfect anything or mull over details.  The more I messed up the better it looked!  I made sure each board was done a little different so there was good variation throughout the floor.  For the polyurethane coat at the end, I let it dry for a week before actually using it.  That stuff is stink-k-k-ky!

I hope this post helps or inspires you to try and make a wood floor from scratch.  I have to admit that it's really rewarding to use something self-made during a photo session.  If only my wife could learn to knit then I'd be a really happy photographer!

All images and video taken with the Nikon D800 and Nikon 50mm f/1.4G lens.
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