Food Photography Backdrops – Which One Is Best For Your Shoot?
Food photography has seen tremendous growth in popularity, especially with the rise of Instagram and other social media platforms. What photographers typically discover after they jump into the genre, however, is that even great looking dishes usually need help. There’s an art to food photography, and the details matter. One of the most important details for making carefully styled dishes look incredible revolves around the backdrop. Choosing the right food photography backdrops to properly showcase your delectable subjects can make all the difference. The question is, how do you choose the right ones? We’re going to look at the best food photography backdrops as well as backdrops to avoid, and we’ll also share a couple DIY options for creating your own affordable backdrops.
Food Photography Backdrops
- Colors for Food Photography Backdrops
- Where to Buy Food Photography Backdrops
- DIY Solutions
Best Colors for Food Photography Backdrops
Food tends to look its freshest and most vibrant when the background colors are neutral and desaturated. Greys, whites, blacks, and browns usually work well, especially if you are using brightly colored food like fresh herbs, peppers, fruits, or veggies. Marble is a tried-and-tested favorite and comes in a variety of neutral shades.
Vibrant colors work well if you’re looking for a more punchy and contemporary vibe. It helps to have knowledge of color theory to match up the perfect color combination, but you can always use a free color wheel app to give you contrasting and complementary colors. In the example above, notice how the watermelon and beverages pop against the textured, Emerald City backdrop.
To add more depth and interest to your backdrop without distracting the eye from your dish, look for backdrops that have textures like wood grain, rustic tiles, speckles, etc. While rustic food photography backdrops are very popular, it’s important not to go too far and use a backdrop that you wouldn’t normally see food served on. Rusty sheets of metal or bricks spring to mind here!
[Related Reading: 4 Food Photography Tips to Spice Up Your Photos]
Wooden Food Photography Backdrops
A classic choice, wood textures stand as a perennial go-to for food photographers. Wooden food photography backdrops offer a nice rustic-yet-classy feel, and they fit with the idea of either a wooden table for prepared food or a butcher’s board to showcase ingredients.
You can get wood in different shades and grains, from plain pine through to walnut, and wood can be painted (and repainted) different colors or given a distressed finish. For a more portable solution, you can also pick up printed backdrops. One of my favorite wood texture food photography backdrops to use is the Aged Cutting/Butchers Duo Board from V-Flat World. Each board features a different hyper-realistic, UHD-printed texture on each side (giving you two textures in a single board), and they’re light enough to easily transport and switch out when needed.
Subway Tile Backdrop Textures
Many a trendy kitchen features a subway-style tiled backsplash. Their simple, sophisticated appearance, usually in black or white, provides an elegant backdrop for your food photography. If your kitchen or shoot location doesn’t have tiles but you like the look, you can pick up some portable backdrop boards that feature this design.
Marble or Stone Backdrop Textures
Nothing says clean and classy like a highly sought after calacatta (marble) or stone-textured food photography backdrop. The look is elegant and it doesn’t distract from the star of the show, the dish you’re capturing.
Best Materials for Food Photography Backdrops
I have a range of food photography backdrops in different materials. I have flexible vinyl sheets with photographs of wood, tiles, and more printed on them, I have rigid boards, different sized slates, and plain linens too. The material you use needs to be durable and cleanable, as you will get splashes and spills.
Vinyl backdrops are easy to wipe clean with cloth and water. Don’t use chemicals on them, as it can strip the surface image off (I found out the hard way).
Rigid printed boards can also be given a wipe-down, but beware if you are using heavily-colored foods like turmeric or chili powder, as they can stain and prove difficult to remove. Some boards are more washable and stain-resistant than others, so invest in quality boards up front to save money over time.
Linens can be washed, but again heavy food stains may leave a mark that won’t come out.
What Size Does a Backdrop Need to Be?
While you don’t need huge backdrops for food photography, it does depend on the angle you want to shoot your food from. If all you do is flat lays and shoot directly from above, you can get away with 2ft x 2ft board. If you want to shoot from the side or at an angle for a wider scene, then you’ll need a larger backdrop, like 30×40″ to make sure everything fits in. Most commercially available food backdrops are made in a variety of sizes, so having a mixture is a good idea.
Where Can I Get Food Photography Backdrops?
A number of food photographers and photography equipment retailers produce food-specific backdrops. Whether that’s flexible printed vinyl or bespoke wooden backdrops, you can find a variety of options. Places like Etsy often sell vinyl backdrops in style packs, and I got a pack of three from a seller on there. As I mentioned earlier, V-Flat World makes some of my favorite food photography backdrops with their double-sided boards. Some options are more expensive than others, but as with most things, you get what you pay for in terms of durability and good-quality prints.
Are There Any Backdrops I Can Create?
Yes! There are quite a few ways to DIY your own food photography backdrops. If you’re handy with a power tool then you can find offcuts of wood and create your own backdrops, but if you don’t have the time or skills to do that here are a few options:
- Porcelain or ceramic floor tiles – find at any home improvement store for just a few dollars. Get the largest size you can, and look out for matte finishes to cut down on glare in the photos.
- Craft and construction paper – Comes in different colors and will do well for close-up and top-down shots where you don’t need to show a lot of background.
- Paper grocery bags – Cut them up into flat paper sheets, crumple them a bit and flatten them out. Use the side that doesn’t have text on and they make a great rustic, textured backdrop.
- Parchment paper – again, crumple parchment and smooth it out or leave it flat to make a great backdrop.
- Large, plain white paper sheets, white table linen, or roll of white paper – don’t dismiss the plain white backdrop for food photography, it’s an absolute classic and gives you a blank canvas to let the food take center stage.
If you’re looking for cheap ways to light your food photos, then don’t forget that natural light is completely free!
If you want to try your hand at food photography, then having a selection of food photography backdrops at the ready is a great idea as you will want to switch them up to suit the food, and also to stop your shots from looking repetitive. Hopefully, I’ve given you some inspiration here for choosing your backdrops, and the realization that they don’t have to cost a fortune. Perhaps you’ll end up like me – a backdrop addict, always on the lookout for a great backdrop to use in my next food photography shoot!