I love V-Flats. Allow me to reiterate here: I LOVE V-Flats. I actually can’t think of anything, photography equipment related (other than a dirt cheap DIY emergency reflector as shown here) that is as useful in the price range it’s possible to have them for. Now please understand the precision of my wording there, because you can buy premade V-flats, though not common, and they can cost in the hundreds. Even when making them yourself, you can run into the hundreds if you choose to use materials like Gatorfoam and other little pieces I’ll mention a bit later. That said, you can still make a set of V-Flats for under $100 for sure, and they’ll be good.
Before I go any further, I think it pertinent to speak briefly on the use of V-flats. Three years ago, I think it was actually rather common to run into photographers who hadn’t the foggiest of what V-flats were or what they did, and some that knew had a notion that they were more the reserve of the major studio. Why this is I can only speculate, but I imagine that given their typical size being inhibitive to transport, many people didn’t have them and many shops (when there were camera shops) didn’t stock them. Anyway, there seems to be somewhat of a V-Flat renaissance, which was bound to happen.
A V-flat, at the most primitive level, is a light modifying tool comprised typically of two large foam boards, either black or white, used to cut/flag light, or reflect it. That’s it. They can also be used as a backdrop or even flooring and are often used in this way. And used as such can be great at misleading the viewer to think the image was shot in a perfect studio, when in fact, it could be your garage.
Their versatility makes them a venerable photographic Swiss Army Knife, and now you probably are interested, and or already want some. The video below is one of the better examples I’ve found, if not the best, on homemade V-Flats, and comes to you at the grace of photographer Felix Kunze. Kunze has a great body of work with a focus on using non-models as subjects, but there are celebrities in there also. If you think you’d like him to have some social/industry proof before you buy what he’s saying, it may help to know he’s assisted for both Annie Leibovitz and Mario Testino, the latter of which makes me green with envy.
I really do think this is a great V-Flat build, and if you want to spruce it up a bit yourself, you can check out the Westcott Scrim Jim Swing Hinge Corner frame connector (though I believe it will create a gap between the boards), or the Book Light legs for a bit more stability on the floor. Whatever you decide, just decide to make some, and spend a little more for a lot of satisfaction.
You can also check out this review of Join The Breed’s Masterclass, in which V-Flats play an important part, and you get a really good look at how versatile they are when Melissa Rodwell uses them in studio.
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