Oh, friends—you’ve seen them and so have I. Those perfectly styled photographs with products painstakingly placed on the most perfect backdrop in the history of time. You instinctively know that some super professional photographer with gear so crazy expensive it would make your jaw drop took that oh-so-perfect image. Cha-ching, right?! I'm here to tell that you don't have to go down that road. Read on to learn how you can have perfect backdrops for product photos without breaking the bank!
Yeah, well…here’s the thing:
You can get some pretty dang amazing product images without turning your garage into a studio and sinking scads of cash into traveling around the world to take a picture of that dress you’re selling on a beach in Bali. (Although…wowsa!)
Now I fully admit that I’m a frugal girl. But you know what? I built some pretty awesome businesses on finding inexpensive ways to solve big challenges.
That includes taking pictures that sold TONS of products using backgrounds that cost me…pretty much nothing.
At first, using what I had handy as backdrops for product photos wasn’t necessarily a choice. Having a pretty empty wallet meant I needed to get creative.
But you know what? Pretty soon the backgrounds I once HAD to use became the photo backgrounds I WANTED to use because they looked amazing. In fact, they’d even kind of set a look for my company’s brand.
So let’s chat about 18 different backdrops for product photos that I’ve used and—and that others have used—that are downright cheap (but crazy fantastic at the same time.)
- An outdoor deck. You guys! Did you know that decks are useful for more than barbecues? Ta-dah! They also make fantastic photography backgrounds. Ours was a little rough, but that weathered look looked freaking amazing in photos. Oh—and did I mention that the whole free sunlight thing was exactly the price I could pay for lighting?
- Books—especially old ones. Admission: I know people who think that the smell of old books is the best thing on the planet. I’m not sharing my opinion on this issue, but what I will say is that dang–they make great backgrounds for small items! Plus, you can grab them at your local Goodwill or off your mom’s shelf (don’t tell her I said that.) Again: cheap and/or free is our favorite, right?
- Floors. I firmly believe that the flat lay design movement began because somebody didn’t have the cash to hire a model, but they did have great wooden floors. I use my wood floors as backdrops for product photos all the time, and I’ve seen some crazy cool pictures that used cement floors as the background. Look down, and you just might be amazed at the awesomeness you have to work with.
- Metal trays. They are the bomb dot com to create a little bit of metallic shine and texture without being overwhelming. Again, look at thrift stores—or heck, pull a cookie sheet out of the cupboard! Get creative!
- A gas station! (Also known as “Whatever grabs your attention.”) If you have a product that you need to photograph and you’re on the go, sometimes seeing a cool bench or a great rock at the park can inspire you. And yes, I really did photograph a product at a gas station.
- Scrapbook paper. Despite the whole digital scrapbooking thing, you can still find it, I promise. And a sheet is like 60 cents or something. Definitely not a huge investment. Keep it simple—maybe use a simple pattern that will really make your product pop right off the page. (The paper kind AND the kind on a website!)
- Old doors. Seriously! How cool are old doors? If you don’t have one laying around, you can usually pick one up for a few bucks via Craiglist, Facebook Marketplace or a garage sale. It’s awesome because you can use a door over and over and over. Definitely a yay.
- Whitewashed wood. Find old slats or repurpose one of the pallets that you can find just about anywhere. Paint them, nail them together and ta-dah! A background that’s pretty and super portable.
- The sky! Think rope + two trees (or heck—a clothesline if you know where one is!) and instead of shooting down, shoot up. Socks, cute clothes for kiddos, fun towels….these are so cool when you shoot them against a bright blue sky. You’ve got to try it.
- A dump truck. Okay, so actually any old cool vehicle will do. Rusted metal and faded paint look so beautiful in photos! Wood products especially look phenomenal in these sort of shots because it gives that whole industrial vibe. (Sigh. Yes, you caught me daydreaming. Or would that be blog-dreaming?)
- Brick! A brick wall, a brick sidewalk, or even just a pile of bricks make an awesome sauce kind of background. Just make sure you’ve got great lighting, and you’ll get a great photo!
- Your bed. You’ll probably want to make it (that goes without saying), but crisp white sheets and a quilt that makes you want to snuggle are the perfect backgrounds for photos of pillows, minky blankets, signs and more. And if you’re not totally loving your bed or if your bedroom doesn’t have a lot of natural light, talk to a friend to see if you can use theirs as your “studio.”
- A couch. Whether it’s leather or fabric, old or new, you can get some great pics on your sofa or loveseat. Grab a picture of a blanket draped over an arm, or pop some overstuffed pillows in a corner. Kids shoes? Line those sweet kid feet up and snap away!
- Concrete. Remember when I mentioned concrete floors above? Well, concrete blocks also make phenomenal backdrops for product photos. Love, love, LOVE the texture that they give to an image—especially when you are taking photos of something that’s a little softer. Yay for contrast!
- Bowls. Bowls are so great for containing small items and, let’s face it, they’re crazy useful! Consider colorful mixing bowls that you can pick up at a thrift store or dollar store. (And did I mention looking at your mom’s house? Moms seem to have everything.)
- 2 x 6 boards. I love this specific size because you can wrap things around it pretty easily. Headbands, fabrics, bandanas—the list goes on!
- Rocking chairs. There is a certain restaurant that has really big, cool slatted rocking chairs out in front of it. I’m guessing you know what it is, but if you don’t…think “Barrel.” Anyway, I love those kinds of rockers both to sit in AND to take product photos on. Oh—and Adirondack-style chairs are also ridiculously beautiful backgrounds for photos! It’s like summer in a chair!
- Fences. Have you ever seen an old wood fence covered in vines? Or a picket fence with geraniums planted along its base? Oh, my heavenly days—things like that just put a big smile on my face. Fences make great backdrops for product photos of all kinds, from wreaths to flags to hats and clothing. You’re gonna want to try it at least once!
So…there you go! 18 super cheap but excellent photography backgrounds that are picture-perfect. Don't forget–you can download the whole list of backdrops for product photos right here, so you can have it handy in those moments you need a dose of creative inspiration.
Oh, and I’m sharing great ideas for people who are thinking about starting an online business or growing their online business all the time on my Facebook page. I hope you’ll follow along there AND check out my 0-$100K Masterclass!
Talk again soon!