Yes to answer a much asked question, in the studio I have 6 painted Polystyrene boards from white to dark grey. When I paint polyboards I just use every day interior matt paint, no it doesn’t eat into the polystyrene and yes you need 2 coats. Also the roller works well.
I don’t shoot on a black background never have. When I got to creativeLIVE I had 2 days shooting the crew before filming went live and as you may have seen they had made me corners to shoot with. Large reflector boards white on one side black on the other. (They were dual tone foam core, made like that not painted see first shot attached)
The second shot attached is the same concept but its blackboard matt paint on poly boards. When I paint grey tones I alway choose green/grey tones, as I like colder tones in my images. I went through a very long period of shooting everything on white. White couches and white ottomans on white backgrounds. This was a huge hit after the natural light series that Mario Testino did of Lady Diana, my all time favourite shoot and a revelation to me at the time, also one of the reasons I started shooting the back light.
I get so bored shooting white, but I’ve never been into to many fabric or color backgrounds as I tire of these even quicker. Plain works best for me and white to light grey and then dark grey to charcoal is where I’m happy. Another tip that most people don’t think about, I shoot lighter clothes on lighter backgrounds and darker on dark (my preference) The Mario Testino shoot white on white was gorgeous and then he did Lady Diana in a black outfit which I think only works because she was blonde. Black clothes AND dark hair on the back light is heavy and I generally stay away from this.
Anyway my point today is I got a little excited with the black background painted some poly boards and have bought it back to my repertoire. Attached image is unretouched and retouched. Of course the black backdrop picks up every speck and mark but it was quick to retouch. It works surprisingly well with a black outfit on black if you can keep some separation (A flick of dodge did that) this is shot in the lounge of an apartment, sliding door light from the left reflector on the right. Pump a bit of contrast in there and it looks strobe lit don’t you think.