DIY Backgrounds for photography

In this class Karl Taylor Education’s Creative Director Tim Gaudion shows you how to make your own DIY photography backdrops similar to those you’ll have seen throughout our food photography classes.

This step-by-step tutorial is ideal for photographers wanting to add an element of unique creativity to their shots as it shows you how to get creative results and outlines important considerations when choosing a background.

Class objectives:

  • Demonstrate how to create a DIY photography background
  • Outline important considerations when creating/selecting a background for photography
  • Explain and demonstrate the tools needed to create a wooden backdrop for photography

What you’ll need:

  • Untreated wooden planks
  • Drill and screws
  • Blowtorch
  • Wood dye
  • Paint
  • Wax crayons
  • Acrylic paint
  • Water

Backgrounds and backdrops are an important part of any image (whether you’re photographing food or fashion) and having the skills to create your own backgrounds opens a whole new world of possibility. Using simple tools and equipment, Tim guides you through the process, from start to finish, showing you how to create your own board, accentuate texture, add colour and enhance depth.

Step 1

Decide on what background you’d like to create.

DIY photography backdrop example

An example of a previous DIY backdrop for photography.

Step 2

Create a board.

DIY wooden board

Joining boards together.

Step 3

Age the wood.

DIY photography backdrop example

Ageing the wood uses a couple of techniques.

Step 4

Apply a base colour.

Painting DIY backdrop

Applying a base coat of paint.

Step 5

Apply final colour effects.

Painting photography backdrops.

Using different colours to add depth.

You can also create your own canvas backdrops for photography — Tim shows you how to do that in this class here.

If you have any questions about this class, please post in the comments section below.

Comments

  1. Hi Tim and Karl, thanks for this great video. It’s answered a lot of questions I had in relation to product shots for my one-man-band company.

  2. Thanks for this video, Tim.
    I think it is important to note that the quality of the finished photo is also reflected in the background and props.
    There was one detail I felt was missing… that of time scale.
    For this sort of exercise, time spent is important; too short and the job would not look right.
    How long would you have taken to create some of the larger backgrounds. 2, 3, 5 hours?
    Longer?

    Cheers

    1. Hi Ted, Thanks for your comments. Regarding the time taken to create these boards the burning of the wood (that gives it the aged look) takes the longest as you can only do a small area at a time, for the 2 ft square board in this class this stage took about 30 minutes. A larger board would take double the time and this is the stage that gives the texture so important to not rush it. When painting the boards the larger backgrounds don’t take much longer than the smaller backgrounds just the additional time it takes to paint the extra area. I normally allow 2-3hrs to make one of these panels but depending on how fast the paint dries you may need to wait for for one stage to dry before proceeding to the next step. The more time and care taken the better the end result, you can also repaint the same board to use in another shoot to get a different look. Cheers Tim

    2. Hi Ted, Tim’s away at the moment until the end of August but I will ask him to reply when he’s back, I think it was about 2-3 hours per board.

  3. A great demonstration! Excellent ideas. For me part of the fun is making/preparing the props and backdrops for a shoot. Is there a limited amount of times that you can repaint the surface, meaning a different look for a different shoot?

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