Fun With Green Screens: Not Just For Video, Still Photos Can Use It Too


Mindy Tucker is a freelance photographer based in Brooklyn, New York, who specializes in portraiture and entertainment photography (music and comedy.) Her company, With Reservation, keeps her surrounded by creative individuals with a great sense of humor — much like herself.

So, when her friend Marianne decided that, at 31 years-old, it was time to have a Bat Mitzvah party (18 years late) she called Mindy in to document all the fun.

While browsing through Twitter, I saw several links to Mindy’s images of the event, called “Marianne’s Fresh Prince Bat Mitzvah“, and thought they were pretty crazy, funny, and interesting. These are definitely not your average party photos.

Could it be that she was using a green screen to drop those backgrounds into the photos? I was curious enough that I wrote to Mindy and asked her some questions.

1) What was this assignment all about? Just looking at the name tells me it was supposed to be fun. Was it?

My friend Marianne was turning 31. She had skipped her bat mitzvah at 13 and decided 31 was as good a time as any to call a re-do. Because her actual bat mitzvah woulda been during the height of Fresh Prince’s reign, that was her theme.

There was so much amazing homemade food and they kept giving me coffee. (Sunday afternoon ain’t my most awakened part of the week so I needed it!) The DJ was Mike Doughty and he was playing the best stuff from that era so I was dancing while shooting. And a lot of the attendees were friends of mine too. So it was fun for sure!

2) How did you come up with the idea to shoot photos with all those crazy backgrounds?

The green screen with backdrops to be added later was all Marianne. She figured if she’d done this at 13, she would have insisted on Fresh Prince themed photos of all her friends. So she created a photo booth set up like she had seen her friends do for their bat mitzvahs.


3) How did you get those backgrounds? Did you create them yourself?

To start I used Digital Anarchy’s Primatte Chromakey plug-in to drop that green background and create a foreground layer.

Marianne wanted the backdrops to look like the Fresh Prince DVD covers. So I started those by downloading Fresh-esque backgrounds from and

Then I went just nuts on the background layers with Overlays, Gradient filters, Saturation adjustments, the Warp tool, scaling, cutting and pasting, and the brush tool. Pretty much every background has at least 5 layers of crazy in there.

This part was so fun because it’s not what I normally do for clients…

I’m from the old school of “get it all in camera”. But, I started out as a painter, so these were like goofy projects that combined painting with photo. And I was just dying laughing so much while making them.

4) Could you describe the lighting/background/logistical setup for the shoot?

Pretty basic lighting setup. Here’s a photo:

Not pictured is the soft-box key light. I’m shooting from right underneath that. Also not pictured to the right is a 40 inch reflector disk clamped to the rail of the sound booth.

The “green screen” paper was a pretty rag tag set up and a pretty small surface area. We had a lot of two shots that had to be right up against the paper to get folks in frame, so there’s a fair amount of green spill on faces. But that’s what we had, so we went with it. I kept trying to get any single shots to step away from the green paper so the edit wouldn’t kill me later, but it’s a party, so you gotta drop perfectionism at some point.

5) How did the people in the photos react to them?

I got a lot of “OMG I am dying laughing” comments and mails.

6) Do you think you’ll be doing this again anytime soon?

I can’t imagine there’s a flood of make-up bat mitzvahs to come, so probably not. But I did enjoy stepping out of my normal shooting and retouching mode so I will definitely keep doing that.


Follow Mindy Tucker on Twitter: @withreservation.

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There are 4 comments for this article
  1. Charles at 5:12 pm

    Tried to register but site won’t accept our URL for some reason. I like the green screen promo however I find the article a little hard to swallow. Its written as though green screen event photography is something new when we have been specializing in this exact type of photography for nearly twelve years. The article is correct, it is a lot of fun for both the photographer and the guests! Charles

  2. Grover Sanschagrin at 6:31 pm

    @Charles – I know its not new, but not every photog knows how to work with green screens (yet.) You’re just a trailblazer. 🙂

  3. Amy at 1:23 pm

    I am sure that using a green screen is fun but with Photoshop CS4 and CS5 it is easier to get this look and truthfully with better results.

  4. Paul at 4:26 am

    Hi, photos look great and it’s all about having fun and giving the guests something to remember the event with. We’ve been doing it for years in the uk and all over the world, just back from China! But in an event environment you can’t use photoshop, we do it live in real time with 3d interactive scenes and also live video. We can shoot, green screen, print and frame over 1000 photographs in a five hour session, try that with photoshop!

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