Ben Franklin once said "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". In photography, the ratio is more like an ounce of pre-production is worth one ton of post-production.
The muslin is usually used as your backdrop (let me know if you have another cool use!) and a clean muslin removes the need to do background removal (or in extreme cases, color correction) after the photo session. Or for purists that use film, it makes the difference between getting the shot and distracting from your subject.
If you are Googling for “how to photoshop out backdrop wrinkles” or “how to photoshop out the background” then this is already going to be a long day for you!
The basic process to steam a muslin is very simple:
The the entire muslin flat, using one fold if necessary
Use an upright steamer
Address any fold marks first using large, very slow strokes
Make large downward strokes for the remainder
Total time required: 10-15 minutes for 3 by 4 yard sheet (after the machine is warmed up).
It is OK to lay a second muslin on top of the first after the first is done. And this is recommended if space is at a premium.
I have found that using a steam press or iron and working on different sections to be a complete waste of time.
After your steaming is done, I like to lay the muslin loose. Then during the shoot (which is usually the next day) I lay down weights in the corner to make the backdrop taut.
Dye your backdrop — for fun new colors
Fun dye patterns — the same techniques used for tie-dye work on your backdrop to make subtle or vibrant textures
Dual tone backdrop lighting — use two lights and a wrinkled background to get interesting effects
Backlit backdrop — actually this should be called "using your background as a gobo"
Paper vs. muslin backdrops — something you may want to consider
Contrasting different backdrop materials — velvet, silk and all fabrics compared
Written by William Entriken 2016-08-06 with links to Udi Tirosh, Courtenay Pollock, Julia Kuzmenko McKim, Joe Edelman, Aaron Hockley, Ashley Dellinger.