As I have become more comfortable with food photography, I have realized the value of a backdrop. A couple of months ago, I wanted to invest in a backdrop for food photos. I was surprised by how expensive they were. Most of the backdrops I looked at were at least $50. Why would I pay that much, when I could just make it? That was my thought process behind this endeavor. After more internet browsing, I found out that it’s fairly common to make backdrops as opposed to buying them. After researching different DIY backdrops, I decided to make two backdrops. One is a simple white backdrop and the other is a purple/grey backdrop with texture. Keep reading to find out how I made them!
For the white backdrop you will need:
For the multi-toned textured backdrop you will need:
- Wood surface or particle board.
- Ready-mixed concrete patch.
- 3 bottles of acrylic paint (white, black, and an accent color).
- Matte finish sealer.
- Paint brushes.
- Putty knife.
- Old newspaper for the mess.
- Bowls or cups for mixing paint.
Where can you find these supplies? I linked the supplies to Amazon out of convenience (I am an affiliate). However, you can find these at Walmart, craft stores, or Home Depot. For both versions, you will need a shooting surface. I suggest a large piece of wood or particle board. I was lucky because I found my surfaces at thrift stores. I would recommend trying to find second-hand surfaces before purchasing a new one at full price.
For the white backdrop:
- Clean your surface.
- Use the sandpaper to rough up the surface.
- Either outside or in a well-ventilated room, use the matte spray paint and completely cover the surface. Do multiple coats of the spray paint. Wait a few minutes in between coats.
- Once the spray paint is dry, spray the matte sealer on the surface.
- Allow to dry for 24 hours before using.
Some more notes: the matte finish sealer prevents acrylic paint from yellowing and degrading over time. Lay the backdrop on newspaper to dry. You only need to spray one side of your surface.
For the multi-toned backdrop:
- Lay down newspaper or a large piece of fabric for the mess.
- In a separate bowl, mix together 1/3 of the ready-mix concrete, black paint, and your accent color (Mixture 1).
- In another bowl or cup, mix together another 1/3 of the ready-mix concrete, white paint, and your accent color (Mixture 2).
- Clean your surface and use sandpaper to rough up the surface.
- Apply a layer of ready-mix concrete to the surface. Spread out evenly with the putty knife.
- Apply mixture 1 to the edges of the surface. Blend it together with the concrete to avoid harsh lines.
- Apply mixture 2 (the lighter mixture) to the center of the board and blend together, so there are no harsh lines.
- Using either a paintbrush or a putty knife, add highlights or shadows with the acrylic paint (optional step). You can darken or lighten certain areas to create more texture and depth of color.
- When the surface has started to dry, spray with the matte sealer.
- Allow to dry on newspaper for at least 24 hours.
Some more notes: The accent color should ideally have cool undertones. I initially made this with a warm-toned brown and my surface ended up becoming more purple than I wanted. I still love it, but I suggest using a neutral or cool-toned accent color. The color does become more muted when it dries. You will have paint and ready-mix concrete left over. For both of these surfaces, you will need to dedicate quite a bit of time. I recommend doing these projects on a Saturday or Sunday. To clean these, simply use a wet paper towel and spot clean.
This is the final result! One is clean and simple and the other one has texture and color variance. The backdrop on the right works great for moody food photography. The one on the left goes well with most scenes and allows the food to be the main focus. These were surprisingly easy to make. There is no need for perfection because imperfections will not show up in a photograph. Two of these backdrops cost less than $50 with leftover supplies that can be used again in the future.
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This project was fun and gave me a sense of accomplishment. I use these each time I shoot food photos now and I am so pleased! I hope you found this post helpful! If you make one too, let me know and tag me on Instagram @authentically_vegan. Thanks for reading!