A few months ago, we chatted all about the best props for food photography, and now we want to turn our attention to another important photography element: backdrops!
When it comes to taking mouthwatering food photos, it’s really important to create a compelling visual scene, and a great backdrop can make a huge difference.
There are many types of backdrops you can use for your food photos, and we wanted to highlight a few of our favorites, as well as where you can buy them, in this post. Alternatively, you could also consider making your own backdrops, so we’ll share all our best tips and tricks on how to do that as well!
Our Favorite Types of Backdrops for Food Photography
Before you invest in any new backdrops, it’s important to think through what color and type of backdrop you want to use for your food photos. Let’s walk through a few of our favorite types:
Without a doubt, a tried-and-true favorite of food photographers is a classic wood backdrop.
The rich color of a wood backdrop helps warm photos up and gives them a rustic look. When you look at an appetizing bowl of soup against a wood backdrop, it makes you feel like you’re right there in the photo, dipping your own slice of bread in the soup to get a big bite.
And when it comes to wood backdrops, there are so many different tones of wood that you can choose from. Play around and find a shade and texture that best fits your photography style.
Unique wood backdrop ideas: wooden cutting boards, kitchen tables, hardwood floors, reclaimed wood from the hardware store
White and Marble Backdrops
White and marble backdrops are also very popular choices for food photographers, and with good reason!
Light backdrops like this really help food pop out of the photograph. It can be fun to experiment with bright colors against a white background — vibrant green salad, juicy red tomatoes, and sliced oranges all really shine against a white or marble backdrop.
Unique white or marble backdrop ideas: marble countertops, marble cutting boards, parchment paper, white kitchen tile
On the other hand, you might want to opt for a dark backdrop if you want to give your photos a dramatic, moody feel.
Dark backdrops really help colors stand out in a photo and keep your eyes focused on the food instead of the background. Since there is so much contrast between the food colors and the background, the food remains the star of the photo.
Unique dark backdrop ideas: black chalkboards, dark (soapstone or granite) countertops, dark tile, dark kitchen tables
Have you ever tried shooting photos using a grey backdrop? They’re another one of our favorites!
In contrast to white and dark backdrops, grey backdrops provide a subtle background that can help mellow out the photo, which can oftentimes place more emphasis on the food in a different way.
Unique grey backdrop ideas: metal tables, baking sheets
If you prefer bright and bold photographs, a colorful backdrop might be the way to go! A favorite of many food photographers, a bright backdrop can really make a statement in your photo.
And don’t be afraid to color block your photos — try shooting a bowl of juicy strawberries against a red backdrop or photographing ears of corn against a yellow backdrop for a bold, monochromatic look.
Unique colorful backdrop ideas: colorful foam boards or poster boards, large sheets of construction paper, contact paper that you cover a piece of scrap wood with
Linens as Backdrops
Last but not least, we love using linens as backdrops! You can style your food on top of a tablecloth or a cloth napkin to create an eye-catching photo.
The fabric of the linen helps provide texture and detail to the photo without being overpowering. And you don’t even necessarily need to iron the linen first; you can leave it a bit wrinkled and strategically use the creases to create shadows and dimension in your photos.
Unique linen backdrop ideas: tablecloths, cloth napkins, flour sack towels, t-shirts
Where to Buy Food Photography Backdrops
There are lots of stores that sell backdrops specifically for photographers, but these are a few of our (and our community’s) favorites (in no particular order):Are you a Food Blogger Pro member?
- Replica Surfaces — These are great backdrops for those on a budget. Their backdrops are light, easy to maneuver, and come in lots of colors and patterns.
- Capture by Lucy — Though based in the United Kingdom, CBL ships backdrops worldwide. They sell vinyl backdrops in a wide variety of shades and colors.
- SwankyPrints — This Etsy shop sells vinyl backdrops that are waterproof and can be rolled out flat.
- Erickson Surfaces – They make beautiful double-sided real wood background boards specifically for food photographers. Their boards are a bit on the pricier side, but they’re well worth the investment.
- Woodville Workshop — This company offers high-quality, double-sided backdrops made out of wood or stone. They offer several different sizing options, and though they are based in Kazakhstan, they ship worldwide.
In addition to all these stores, we recommend keeping an eye out when shopping in places like thrift or antique stores. You never know what kind of beautiful surfaces you’ll find that might make a perfect backdrop!
And when you’re just starting out with food photography, don’t feel like you need to go out and buy all the backdrops — you can always use something like a small table in your living room as your first backdrop and grow your collection over time.
How to Create Your Own Painted Backdrops
Don’t want to shell out lots of money on a brand-new backdrop? You can always make your own backdrop at home! All you need are a few supplies and a bit of creativity.
Plus, the best part is that your DIY backdrops will be entirely unique! Since nobody else will have the same backdrop as you, your photographs will have an original feel.
Here’s an easy way to DIY your own photography backdrop:
- Purchase a wooden board with your preferred dimensions. You can easily buy these at your local hardware store and have them cut to the size you’d like.
- Buy some paint samples in your desired color. The hardware store usually sells small paint samples for just a few dollars, so look around and buy a sample or two of the color you’re going for. For a unique look, you can always try blending a few different shades together.
- If you’d prefer a board with texture, try using a ready-mixed concrete patch (like this one). Before painting your board, you can spread this concrete patch on the board using a trowel to create texture and dimension. Be sure to let the concrete patch dry completely before painting.
- Using the paint samples you purchased, paint the board. Paint the board using your paint of choice, and be sure to get into all the nooks and crevices of the board. To add more dimension, you can also add in some light or dark paint (such as white or black) to add some additional highlights and shadows.
- Let the board dry completely before using. If desired, you can paint the other side to create a double-sided board.
A quick disclaimer: if you tend to put food directly on your backdrops, be sure to double-check that the materials you used are food safe. Some of these materials may not be, so it would be better to use dishes and other props between your actual food and the photography surface.Are you a Food Blogger Pro member?
And that’s a wrap on our discussion of all-things photography backdrops! We hope this post gave you some inspiration and ideas to take your backdrop collection to the next level.
Now let us know in the comments: What kinds of backdrops do you like to use for your food photos? Have you ever tried making your own backdrop?