You don't need to have a fancy marble countertop or polished timber floorboards in your home to be able to get the same effect in your photography. Here at Creatively Squared we are all about how to 'get the look for less' so before you go and splash out on a fancy table top, you might want to read this first!
We have taken a practical approach to this list - we know storing multiple backdrops in your home studio can take up a lot of space so we have selected options that are already found in the home or can be stored flat and tucked away somewhere discreet like under the bed. This list of cheap, compact backdrops can have a big impact on the look of your photo and help set the perfect scene.
1. White coated masonite board
This is one of my personal favourites - I actually picked up a few of these in different sizes at my local hardware store - for as little as $3. They are white on one side with raw wood on the back and come in 2mm depths which make them extra cheap and lightweight for storing at home. As well as making a nice clean, white backdrop these boards are handy to have a few of to position around your set to bounce light and fill shadows.
2. Vinyl transfers
Adhesive vinyl is one of my top backdrops, they come in a range of colours and textures and are cheap and easy to use. They come in a roll and are great to apply on the reverse side of the white coated boards I mentioned above. Using both sides of your backdrop means less boards to store and more mileage for your prop budget. The great thing about vinyl is it makes a quite resilient surface and easy to wipe clean, making them perfect for food styling or anything that could get a bit messy!
3. Vinyl or ceramic tiles
I also picked up a few cheap vinyl tiles from the hardware store for around $5 each, they are a good size for small flatlays and came in some great marble and stone textures. You can also get some great patterned and mosaic tiles which can be glued to a timber backing. There are some nice ceramic tile options too but I personally found the size and weight of them a bit limiting
4. Linen and cloth
Linen has such a lovely texture and you can use these flat or scrunch for extra depth. I picked up some cheap coloured muslin baby wraps that come in some lovely colours but napery and tea towels also make great cost effective options. If you were to visit your local fabric store you could also buy some fabric by the meter - the only downside to using large fabric swatches is that you will need to iron them before each shoot. Layering up different types of fabric can create a beautiful effect.
5. Painted colours and textures
Want to get the perfect custom colour backdrop for your signature colour palette? You can pick up a cheap plywood board and sample pot of paint from the hardware store and DIY for around $10. I've painted my fair share of plain coloured boards which is great if you want to have a consistent colour theme in your photos. If you want to create a textured look you can combine coloured paints to create some beautiful one-of-a-kind results. Painted boards like this are also perfect for adding a 'wall' behind your product and still life photography.
Into finding clever ways and places to source props as well as backdrops? Check out our post Prop it Like it's Hot: Where to Source the Best Accessories for Styling Your Photo
6. Recycled doors and shutters
You'd be amazed at what you can find with a trip to your local recycling centre. You can pick up old timber doors, cupboard fronts and shutters that have real character. If you can't get access to the real thing there are some high quality vinyl and paper backdrops to replicate this look.
7. VJ panel or wooden slats
Another hardware store secret, you can buy timber boards that already have the look of wooden panels on them for under $20. Additionally you can buy the pieces of timber you like and then glue them together to create this look - or just slot them all together on a flat surface and no one will know the difference!
8. Textured blanket or throw
Snuggly knits and blankets make a beautiful textured backdrop. This is another Insta favourite. Perfect for laying flat or draping to build up the texture of your image. Quilted blankets are a favourite of mine but as an alternative sometimes I take the case off the doona or shoot straight onto the mattress protector to get that white quilted effect.
9. Sheepskin or faux fur
This is another blogger favourite, animal hides and sheepskin have been hugely popular backdrops. Fur adds some great depth to your photo and it is great for layering up on top of other backdrops. Don't worry you can still get this look without any animal cruelty and pick up cheap faux furs in different colours from places like Ikea and Kmart.
10. Coloured or patterned paper
Like the vinyl mentioned above you can get some great printed paper options and they make cheap portable backdrops. You can buy plain coloured backdrops in office supply stores in A1 for a couple dollars. The only downside of paper is that it is delicate and you have to be really careful not to get them wet or spill anything on there. Storing paper can be difficult as well and if you keep them rolled out they may not look perfectly flat when you want to use them.
How many of these backdrop ideas have you tried? If you have a favourite that isn't on this list we'd love you to share your tips with us in the comments!