DIY Photo Background Ideas
When I decided to do my very first flatlay shoot, I knew I didn't want to spend very much money on it. I have no idea if I'd actually be any good at doing branded shoots, and I knew the props and supplies could add up fast.
The more styled stock photo shoots I do these days (and I do a lot!), The more my creative brain comes up with cool photo ideas using things I already have on hand. Sure, I do still purchase a lot of my props and backgrounds brand new for Sassy Styled Stock. That being said, I learned a lot of DIY photo background hacks in my early days and I'm here to pass them on to you!
Tip #1. Use what you have
You might be surprised to find that you actually have a lot of photo backgrounds hanging around in your house right now. They are probably right there in front of your nose, and you just have yet to really see them!
Here's a little mental checklist to help yourself out. Ask yourself, what potential backgrounds do I have that are...
● Made of stone
● Made of wood
● Made of paper
● Made of metal
● Made of glass
● Made of fabric
Maybe you'll realize that you have beautiful granite countertops that would make an awesome flat lay background. Or maybe you have pretty wood planks on your porch or a vintage wooden buffet table that would look great.
My point is, unless you're living in a bear apartment with just two cinder blocks holding up some plywood for your coffee table, you've probably got a handful of different possible DIY backgrounds already in your house!
If you love that chippy, vintage wood look, why not make your own? pieces of scrap wood planking are generally pretty easy to come by if you searched around on Craigslist or at Habitat for Humanity's ReStores. You could buy them new, but they wouldn't have that nice weathered look and you'd end up spending a chunk of change.
Once you have your wood pieces, connect them at the top and bottom with a few cross boards and you are good to go! You can leave the wood asses, stain it, painted, or weather it further. You could even give it a different look on each side for double the backgrounds!
And if you're not the handyman type, you could always pick up an inexpensive wood background like this one.
Furniture always makes for some really interesting backgrounds. The texture and colors are deep and bring dimension to the photo.
What furniture do you have in your house that would make a great picture as is? Vintage dressers and buffets, marble table tops, stone coffee tables, and painted nightstands are just a few that come to mind. And if you don’t have any on hand, find out if your friends or family have any lovely pieces you could use for an afternoon! You might also check around on Craigslist or other more affordable stores like Ross and TJ Maxx if you are on a budget.
Galvanized metal tubs
If you're an avid gardener or you live out in the Sticks, you've probably got a few galvanized metal tubs laying around somewhere. These things are gold! Clean them up a little (but don't scrub off that vintage look!) And they can serve as both a background and a prop for your blog photos.
I'll start with this little disclaimer. I don't recommend using the regular stuff that is super shiny, colorful, and kind of gaudy. Unless that's your style, then more power to you!
Instead, I’d suggest using some more subtle and beautiful wrapping papers that you might find on Etsy or from specialty online shops. And if you happen to have some already at home, even better!
Wrapping paper can pretty much give you an unlimited supply of inexpensive photo backgrounds for only a couple of bucks each. That being said, wrapping paper does wrinkle really easily. Your best bet is to glue your wrapping paper to a piece of foam board to keep it nice and straight. Then store it standing up in a safe place to keep it intact.
If you want a super cheap and rustic-looking background, try butcher paper! Any craft store and many dollar stores will sell rolls of plain brown butcher paper. And the bonus is that you can use some of it for backgrounds and some of it to wrap a little prop boxes and tie them with white string for some fun things to add to your photos.
I love using various fabrics as backgrounds for my photos. Chances are you already have some options at home you haven’t thought of yet. I’ve used my favorite bedspreads, sheer curtains, sweaters, and throw blankets as backgrounds or props in my photos. Fabric really makes a photo pop because it adds textures to a photo that might otherwise be a little flat. Just make sure that your fabric isn’t wrinkled and doesn’t have any stains!
Most flatlays are taken on a plain white background. And although it’s the standard, I still think it is a great option for creating that light and airy look! One of the cheapest and easiest DIY photo backgrounds you can use is a simple piece of white foam board. Pretty much any craft or home goods store will carry it, and you’ll find that it’s only a couple of dollars per piece. The stuff does stain really easily, however, so I recommend storing it inside of a clean trash bag to protect it.
Vintage silver trays
I don’t know about you, but I loooove me some pretty vintage trays. You can buy them at thrift shops, estate sales, get them from your grandma… They’re everywhere. Clean them up a little before your shoot, but be sure to leave that lovely tarnished look.
Vintage trays are perfect for adding a breakfast spread, a cup of coffee and a pastry, or a candle and notebook to create a whimsical image that draws people in.
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