Let's face it, there isn't really enough space in your average family house for a photographers portrait studio. If you're trying to recreate the white-backgrounds a la Avedon, Peter Hurley or Bailey, it's a bit tricky to convince your better half to convert your front room into your personal photographic space. This is where a simple projector screen comes in.
Every slide shooter in the 60's and '70's would have had one of these- the best way to show those holiday chromes in all their glory, but sadly slides are now mostly a thing of the past. This means we can pick up these gloriously white screens for a song. They roll up into a relatively small and lightweight size and are perfect for making a bright background for your portraits.
The make, obviously, doesn't matter. Just make sure that the screen is clean and the stand unfolds properly. I tend to use a couple of flashes on my subject and one on the background. The background flash doesn't need to be that bright, just check your histogram to see that the screen is tipping over to pure white. If the flash is too bright you'll get glare and flare ruining your shots.
Because the ceilings in our house are quite low, I have my subject sitting on a chair in front of the screen, with umbrellas in front. The background flash usually sits on the floor, just behind the chair and shinning up at the screen.
So if you fancy creating some simple but effective head shots, track down a second hand projector screen and have some fun.