Metaphorically. I was lucky enough to stumble over the very talented and generous Zack Arias who filled my head with knowledge and ideas. My daughter drove with me to Home Depot and the two of us somehow navigated from store to parking lot with two very large tile boards; her Daddy carried them into the house for us and her brother, anxious to show off his new shark-tooth necklace (thank you, Groovy Becker family!), stood as model.
UPDATE: here’s a SOOTC shot of the whole studio setup for those of you who have emailed me to ask:
The white foam-core is just like what you buy at Wal-Mart for classroom presentations, but it’s really, really tall — like 8 feet. It was ghastly expensive I remember and I had to buy a whole case of it from an art store. I cut each panel in half and used black gaffers tape (that’s the black line you see going down the photo; if I were to do this again, I’d use WHITE tape just to make it easier to clean up post production!) to tape them together so that they would stand on their own in an L-shape. The two strobes are on stands, hidden behind the the foam-core walls, aimed at the background. The other black line you see going down is part of the stand that I use to hold up the white seamless paper. There is a good deal of light still spilling onto my subject, you can see how his hair is sort of yellowish-cast where it meets the white background? The ceiling is white and light is just bouncing around like crazy all over the place even though he is standing a good 10+ feet and several f/stops away from the background. Three strobes total, two (behind the makeshift foam-core gobos) set to fire at the background one stop brighter than the front strobe, camera right, very close to and lighting my subject with a large softbox, plus a reflector on camera left for fill. Not far behind my subject’s shoulders is where the tile board ends and the white seamless (underneath) begins, but in most cases the light blows that line out to where it’s not visible.
I’m mindful to keep my subject from standing in front of anything black or off the backdrop; later, in Photoshop, I used the selection tool to select blocks of space to the side of my subject and hit “delete.” Poof, that section is suddenly bright, high-key white. Sometimes I use the erase tool for smaller areas. Then I use the dodge tool, set it to highlight at 10ish percent and brush around my subject until it matches the high-key sides and background directly behind.