DIY Product Photography Backdrops
I have personally sold hundreds of items online in recent years, including on Ebay and on Etsy, but I have always used plain white backgrounds for my product photos.
Eventually I decided that I needed an array of backdrops instead of just the one, to give my shop a bit of variety. I also needed the backgrounds to be larger than my current one to allow me to photograph larger items and shoot small-scale YouTube videos in front of them.
So I set about making my own, and you can see how I made them below.
This is a very simple DIY project to undertake, and it will really improve your product photography. These backdrops would also prove useful for food and lifestyle bloggers.
The first thing you need to decide is how large you would like your backdrop(s) to be.
You will need sheet wood cut into your chosen sizes.
For mine, I found someone selling 60 cm x 60 cm MDF sheets (4mm thick) on Ebay so I bought 3 of those. In addition, I had a smaller MDF offcut from a previous project. And I also wanted a large backdrop, and for this one I had a piece of 5mm MDF cut for me at B&Q, which is a DIY and home improvement shop here in the U.K.
If you are handy with power tools, you could buy large sheets and cut your own, but for most people it will be simpler to buy them pre-cut. Most places that sell wood will cut it to your requested dimensions for free.
The next thing you need is self-adhesive vinyl.
You can buy these in rolls (I bought mine on Amazon and Ebay). The width of your backdrops may be limited by the width of vinyl you can find. Make sure you find a big enough piece to cover your whole backdrop area.
There are quite a few attractive designs to choose from, but for photography I would definitely recommend finding matte vinyl, not glossy, since a shiny surface produces too many light reflections in your photos.
I chose a subtle woodgrain vinyl in white, a more realistic brown woodgrain, and a black marble effect design. The marbled vinyl was too shiny really, but it was too pretty to resist!
F i n d D e c o r a t i v e V i n y l B a c k d r o p s o n A m a z o n :
First, place your wooden board on top of the vinyl, with the vinyl laid flat and upside down.
Draw closely around the wood, onto the back of the vinyl, with a fine pen or a pencil.
Then cut along the line with sharp scissors (or a craft knife/rotary cutter, a ruler and a cutting mat).
Double check that the vinyl is now the same size as the wood. If it isn't, now is the time to trim any excess off, because it will be difficult once it is stuck down. Don't worry too much about the edges though, because they won't be seen on your future photos anyway :)
Now is the time for sticking the vinyl to the wooden boards, which can be a little bit awkward.
Because the vinyl is supplied in a roll, it is a good idea to try and flatten it out a bit before you start this step. Having something sticky rolling up on itself is quite annoying!
Carefully roll it loosely in the opposite way to how it was packaged, making sure you don't crease it.
Also make sure that the wood is dry and free from dust/dirt.
Next, I recommend peeling off just a few inches of the paper backing on one of the shorter edges of vinyl. Line up the two newly-uncovered corners of vinyl with the matching corners of wood board and stick them down. Then stick the rest of the uncovered vinyl into place, making sure it's flat and free from bubbles.
Now you have one edge of the vinyl in place, it's a lot easier to handle.
Slowly peel off the rest of the backing paper, a bit at a time, re-adjusting and smoothing the vinyl as necessary along the way.
Keep going until the wood is covered with the vinyl. Smooth any bubbles out with your hands.
The vinyl can be repositioned if it goes wonky, but try not to do this too much, as it gets gradually less sticky every time you do this.
I wanted a variety of backdrops, so I repeated the above process with the three different vinyl rolls I bought. I covered the front and back of my boards to give me 10 backdrops in total, as you can see here:
As you might be able to tell, only four of the backdrops are made with vinyl. The other six are a mixture of black spray paint, white spray paint and blackboard paint (which is especially good because it's so matte).
If you're using MDF and plan to paint yours too, you will need to apply a primer to the surfaces before spray painting them. And remember, always have good ventilation when painting :)
The reason I have used many of the paints/vinyls on two different boards is so that when I take photos, I can have a 'floor' and a 'backdrop' in the same colour/pattern if I wish.
Basically, it allows me to mix 'n' match my backgrounds, which is great for not only creating professional looking product photos, but also for small-scale videos and tutorials. In fact, you can see one of the backdrops used in my airplant terrarium ideas page.
So that's the end of this DIY, and I very much hope you have found the instructions useful!