Last week I answered question of “do you really neeeed a white background for handmade product photos?” and the big answer was NOPE. You do not. But, you do need a simple, neutral background.
Those kinds of background don’t have to break the bank either. Here are 5 ideas for cheap or free backgrounds for handmade product photos.
When I bought my desks (I have two), I bought them both with product photography mind. One is a natural wood, and the other is slightly glossy white. Now you don’t have to go out and buy a new desk (that would hardly be cheap or free, amiright?), but take a look around your house. You may very well already have a cool desk or table with a suitable surface for your product photos.
Hardwood floors may also work. Just make sure that the wood you’re using (regardless of its source) isn’t tinted or stained to create colour-affecting undertones. If the wood is reddish, yellowing, greenish, etc that can seriously impact your photo in a negative way.
One of my favourite DIY background hacks! You can buy contact paper (intended to line shelves or drawers) or even wallpaper and stick it to rigid foam board for a great DIY product photography background.
Don’t forget - you’re going for neutral and no busy patterns. Keep it simple! Avoid glossy finishes (they will make glare-free photos virtually impossible), and opt for patterns that could be table tops, like marble, woods, slates, etc.
3. Posterboard for a seamless background
Ever see one of those product photos where it looks like the product is floating in nothingness? Those are seamless backgrounds. You can buy paper roll seamless background for a chunk of change at a camera store, or if your products are smaller, you can grab a piece of posterboard from the dollar store and make your own seamless background.
To do this, take your posterboard and stick one side of it (the short side if it’s rectangular) to a wall and allow it fall straight down the wall, curve toward the floor (or tabletop) to lay flat on the surface. Place your product on it and start shooting!
If you have small products like jewelry, scrapbook paper can be a great option. They’re smaller, easy to store, and inexpensive. They come in a wide variety of patterns and are pretty easily replaceable as well.
Same rules apply as with contact paper and wallpaper. Keep it simple, neutral, and avoiding patterns. Seek out marble, woods, slates, and maybe even a linen texture. Experiment! With scrapbook paper you can afford to.
While not suitable for every brand, this may be one of my very favourite free or cheap backgrounds. I love incorporating nature into product photos. It creates character, interest, and deepens a connection between the product and the shopper.
Seek out things like slabs of slate, bark, logs, stone, and moss for your product backgrounds. This approach is really only suitable for brand that embrace things like eco-friendly lifestyles, rustic vibes, adventure, and wilderness. But for those brands, this can be a super option.
Now that we’ve outlined some great free or cheap backgrounds for handmade product photography, let’s talk about some backgrounds you want to steer clear of.
- Anything cloth. Cloth is extremely wrinkly and nearly impossible to make look smooth, polished, and professional.
- Bright colours. Unless this is a stand-out characteristics of your brand, you’ll want to avoid bright colours. Colourful backgrounds take away from your product, and can distract and overwhelm shoppers.
- Patterns. As I’ve mentioned a few times in this article thus far, patterns should be avoided. Patterns clutter up your photo, make it look chaotic, and will make shoppers just keep on scrolling. Your product should never have to compete with the background.
And there you have it! Some awesome free or cheap background ideas for your handmade product photos. Have a question or comment about backgrounds? Drop it in the comments!
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Go-to product photography instructor for creatives since 2017
I'm a photographer and I teach makers, artists, and creatives how to take beautiful, compelling, and effective brand and product photos for their business.
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