Ever since I bought my fancy DSLR camera, I’ve been trying to learn to take better pictures. The camera can only do so much, right? The rest is up to me. I’ve been on the hunt for pretty yet cheap photography backdrops for months now. I’ve read blogs, scoured groups and tried to find all the great ideas everyone else has mentioned.
Bead boards and stained wood were my favorite ideas. Alas, when I looked for bead board at Home Depot, the stuff they had on hand was really expensive. Then I almost had a meltdown when Sal explained to me that wood doesn’t come the way I envisioned it in my head (exactly 2 feet by 2 feet, sanded, stained and under $10) in the lumber department.
See, to me, “cheap” means under $10. Actually, closer to under $5. THAT is cheap. I see the word thrown around way too often by people who clearly never had to take antianxiety meds when they saw the price of milk had gone up. Cheap is not $50, unless you’re talking about, say a car! Then that’s cheap. I’m not a tightwad because I don’t want to invest in my business or don’t care about pleasing my lovely readers with stunning eye candy. I’m cheap because I’m a single mom with very limited income.
So, my shutterbug friends, fellow bloggers and anyone who just wants to take cool pictures, this one’s for you! All five items on this list cost under $5 each, making them TRULY CHEAP photography backdrops for bloggers on a budget.
5 Super Cheap Photography Backdrops
Foam Board: Olfa at OurFamilyWorld gave me this idea originally. I was going to use plain old poster board, but she said foam board works better. I recommend heading to the dollar store. I’ve also gotten it at Walmart. Avoid craft stores for this one, because for some reason it costs a lot more there (like $3 per piece and up!). The downfall of foam board- it’s a little bland. It’s great if you’re planning on adding text or other elements to the picture, like in this one:
My picture itself needs a lot of work, I still need to learn how to better photograph beverages in a glass without getting glare. I used a black foam board for the background though. Pick up a bunch of colors, that way you have them.
2. Contact Paper: The wooden background in my feature picture up there at the top of the post is actually foam board covered in contact paper. I picked up a roll in both light and dark wood at Big Lots for $2 each. It’s not as natural looking as real wood, but it still works pretty well! Just make sure you smooth out the bubbles. I covered one side of my white foam board with one color and one side of my black with the other. If I get more, I’ll cover one side of other pieces of foam board. That way, you don’t have as much clutter.
3. Fabric remnants: I bought a ton of fabric remnants when I started looking for cheap photography backgrounds. You can go two ways here: the slightly frugal way and the total tightwad way. I, of course, took the latter route. If it’s in your budget, go ahead and splurge on a full yard of different different materials. Keep in mind that even if you’re getting material at $3 a yard, it adds up fast! Instead, I scoured the leftovers bins. I also found fat quarters for $1. I have no idea what a fat quarter is, but it was just the right size for some of my photography projects! This is my favorite picture taken with a fabric background:
4. Floor Tiles: After my disappointment in the lumber section, I decided to check out the flooring section. I saw some loose tiles sitting on top of stacks of bound tiles. Sal said he didn’t think I could buy just one tile, but the nice man in the flooring department said that as long as they were sitting out, I could buy them. Now, there are a couple ways you can go here, too. I bought one really good, heavy, sturdy tile for $3. It’s the slate looking one on the bottom of the pile here:
The others, on top, I bought from the peel and stick tile section. They were like $0.89 each. They didn’t have a large selection and it was really close to closing time. I’m planning to go back and look again, or maybe try Loews next time. I think I’ll probably go with a few more of the heavier ones, the “real” floor tile I guess? I took this picture on the heavy slate one:
Again, I know I need to work on the food photography part (like the little smudges of mac and cheese on the green bowl), but I really love the look of this slate tile.
5. The Great Outdoors: When you’re so broke that even $5 is enough to make you weep, take your camera outside and look around for the best type of cheap photography backdrops of all: free ones! I’ve taken so many pictures out on my back deck all year round. If you use the Portrait setting (or if you’re super awesome and know how to blur your background manually), you can make the background fuzzy so you don’t pick up things like a random squirrel or, you know, deer poop. Not that I ever caught that in my pictures! Still, it’s a worry! Sometimes a picture just calls for the great outdoors. Like my TAZO Chai post. Chai makes me think of crisp fall days.
So there you have it, my five favorite cheap photography backdrops. What do you think? Too cheap? Eventually, I will invest in a few really good pieces to have on hand, but for now, I think they work pretty well!
Do you have any other ideas for cheap photography backdrops? I’d love to hear them!