6 Tips for Choosing Backdrops & Surfaces

When it comes to choosing backdrops and surfaces for your product shoot, there are so many choices! It's fun to experiment with different colors and textures to see what works best for your products and brand. The photo below shows the same group of items on 4 different backdrops. The color, textures and patterns of your backdrop/surface can powerfully affect the style and mood of a photo.

Here are some tips that I hope will help you have success in finding materials that look great in photos and support your brand.

Also - don't forget to grab your FREE Shoot Setup Blueprint at the bottom of the post!

1. I highly recommend using a seamless backdrop. In the first 3 photos above, I used fabric as a seamless backdrop. But one of my favorite things to recommend is actually just plain bulletin board paper. (It's inexpensive and easy to find!). Whether you use fabric or paper, you're just going to attach it to the wall (or a backdrop stand) and pull it down over your table. So it's just one material that acts as a surface and backdrop. The reason I recommend this is because it gives a really beautiful, professional look and it makes composition much easier because there are no table edges to consider.

2. Whatever materials you use, make sure they're matte, not shiny. The reflections from a shiny surface can really ruin your photos- trust me I've tried and it was a bad experience!

3. The colors of your backdrop and surface should fit with your brand colors. If you have 2-5 main brand colors, your backdrop/surfaces should be one of these colors or a shade of one of these colors.

4. I typically recommend also choosing neutral colors for your backdrop/surface. This isn't a hard and fast rule, but sometimes when your backdrop/surface is brightly colored, this color will reflect onto your product and not look so great. So just be aware!

5. You'll want your backdrops & surfaces to be clean and wrinkle free. Your photos will look much better and you can avoid having to take them into Photoshop to fix bad areas of the photo. With any fabric I use often, I steam it then attach it to foam board with spray adhesive so it won't get wrinkled again. If you're using a heavy fabric like canvas, you can roll it up over a wrapping paper tube and store it that way.

6. Be sure your backdrop/surface is large enough for your product. This seems obvious, but there's been many times when I've been tempted to grab a piece of tile or material for a shoot, knowing it's not quite large enough. You're setting yourself up for frustration if you take the time to plan and prepare for a shoot only to start shooting and realize your backdrop/surface isn't large enough! So what's big enough? Well it depends on your product and what other items you plan to include. A backdrop about 30" wide or so will typically work fine for small and medium sized products (products the size of a pumpkin or smaller). The pancake shots below were shot on a piece of tile about 18" x 18" and it worked fine. You may need a smaller or larger piece of material, but getting a piece larger than you think you need is a great idea because it will give you more flexibility when shooting.

This tile is 18"x18" and it worked great. However, this is actually a small salad plate (it's not much larger than the standard sized napkin shown) so I'm not sure it would've worked as well with a larger place setting.

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Want a visual on exactly how to set up your backdrop and product, and where to stand with your camera?

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