Photography background or most commonly referred to as photography backdrop is primarily used to highlight the model/product in a photoshoot.
The top reason these backdrops are important is that they tell a story, both directly or indirectly. Mostly in a contexture/natural background, the background gives context whereas, in a color background, the background is set to influence the viewers’ psychology.
However, using the wrong backdrop may just ruin your photo shoot completely. Many products lose their aesthetics because of it. That is why choosing the right backdrop becomes important.
Choosing the Right Background
Now, there’s no simple formula for this question, yet there is one simple and famous answer.
Which is – Knowing Your Audience.
To elaborate a bit further, it’s about knowing your viewers. And at the same time knowing about what you want to effectively communicate to them.
Sometimes the background alters according to different products and brands, even if it is for the same audience.
Here are some points to ease up your selection process.
Remember your product is the main focus. So, don’t put too much noise in the background as it may take away the focus.
Subtle & Complementing Colors
Always use colors that are subtle and are complementing your products. Your background is the add-on to your dish (the product).
White vs Gray vs Black Background
A white background is famous in product photography because of its calmness and its focus on products. Almost all products go well in this background. The gray color is an alternative to white so that the color doesn’t get mixed on websites.
Black is the darkest hue. It goes very well for some products, especially jewelry and shiny products.
Natural vs Custom
You can use natural backgrounds like natural green, leaves, stones, sands, and whatnot. These work best when you want to convey a story related to that natural element.
You can also create custom ones like ice, smoke, wallpapers, and more. These are very good when you can use your creative sense to the fullest. The sky’s the limit here.
Textures are somewhere in the middle of nature and color backgrounds. They don’t give too much context but they provide a bit more sparkle than other colors.
If you want to go for a minimalistic approach while having a simple design, textures would be great.
Remember, at the core, it’s about your product and communicating your message to the audience.
Natural or Color Background?
You got the basics, but still, there might be a question looming in your head.
How do you decide whether you should go for natural backgrounds or colored backgrounds? How to know when to select leaves and when to select just a green (gradient/plain) background.
The natural background sets up the scenery. It brings up the imagination of the viewer. The surroundings help viewers to envision their lifestyle with that product, which is in a way storytelling.
For example, this image (with a natural background) tells the story of a man getting ready for work, ensuring comfort and semi-formal aesthetics in his footwear.
Color Background, on the other hand, provides the mood for your product, using complementary psychology needed for your product. Different colors have a different psychological impact for example;
For this reason, a color combination is often used depending on the products.
So, it really boils down to what you want to communicate to your target audience. Your brand, your product, the feeling and service of that product, the value it brings to your viewers’ life, all of these play a role in it.
Put yourself in your viewer’s shoes, and try different backgrounds until you find the perfect match.
11 Most Famous Background Ideas
By now, you’ve understood the fundamentals of choosing the best background for your product photography. But practice and experience make one a specialist.
With our years of experience in image editing, here is a list of backgrounds that we’ve found to be rather effective for various product photography.
Vinyl backdrops have gained much popularity when it comes to food photography. It has proven to be reliable because of its thickness and durability. It provides a strong aura behind the products
There are different styles of vinyl backgrounds like faux wood, faux marble, solid color, etc. But mostly it can be subdivided into two groups; solid vinyl backdrop and marble vinyl backdrop.
These will last long and can be easily cleaned by a wet rug. Even though these require a bit more investment than normal paper backdrops, these are worth that money.
White foam boards are relatively cheap and useful, and white has become the standard go-to color for backgrounds.
But, apart from white, you can use different types, shades, and colors for the foam boards too. Solid color, velvet, faux marble, whatever you can think of, can be used here.
Though relatively cheap, these are quite fragile. It’s better not to use it if you’re planning to move it frequently.
Bokeh Technique – Blur Background
This fancy technique is pretty famous, which basically blurs out the background. These work especially great with jewelry products.
When using these techniques, you won’t have to bother about background features as much.
You will, however, require good additional lenses if you don’t have them already. It can cost $200-$500 for a new lens.
One of the easiest to purchase & use, and the famous backdrop is paper. We can get as creative as you want here.
Using various colors, patterns, and textures, you can bring life to any story that you want to tell. You can even use magazines, and newspapers (old or new ones) as a creative approach.
The problem is that these are easily perishable, but it doesn’t hold anyone back from using them as it’s heavily available.
Sand & Stones
Nature has always been the greatest source for product photography backgrounds. Sand and stones happen to be the easiest to use. At the same time, these provide a texture, which helps create a conceptual picture.
You can find sand and stones almost everywhere, bringing down the hassle. This, however, is difficult for larger-scale projects. Finding one or two stones, and sand is one thing, but completely creating a custom photoshoot space for this becomes hard.
One of the most beautiful backgrounds is fabric. The first and simple reason is that it looks really good, and using it right really brings out the color of the products.
Folding them, layering them, and shaping them in multiple ways, overall playing with them helps bring together a story.
Fabrics add depth and mood to the image. For the female audience, delicately folded lace or silk does a great job, and for a male audience, leather is more appreciable.
Leaves & Greenery
Talking about nature, we cannot overlook the color of trees, lands, and forests. Whenever you want to convey a nature-oriented story, this is the go-to background.
The most important message it conveys in today’s day and age is eco-friendliness. You can choose from a wide variety of flora, live plants, flower plants, trees, and shrubs.
You can use such background props to emphasize your products’ organic/non-toxic qualities.
It’s just that it might be a bit expensive, depending on the type of flora you’re thinking of using.
Finding it way too hard to find some reliable yet inexpensive background? You can find that in a simple place like tiles.
Though still a bit unconventional, its main impact is its texture. The hard surface proves a reliable background and with various available designs, you can be as creative as you want.
Different tiles satisfy different tastes. Like if you want a classic taste, black tiles make a good addition, whereas white background gives a harmonious mood.
It’s good for small-scale usage, but it can be heavy to work with because its surface may not always be compatible with the product. It’s good for flat lays and vertical backdrops.
The most versatile background is wallpaper. It comes in a wide variety of options including patterns, gradients, scenery imprints, and any sort of required contextual background.
In this case, use your full imagination, as your creativity is the limit.
You can pick from a wide range of colorful/contextual background wallpaper within your desired budget. The only bad thing about it is that wallpapers can be torn apart easily, so you have to use them with extra care.
This incredible & unique background effect, you can’t acquire from anything else and there are no alternatives.
A smoke background helps you imitate cloud features, which enhance the atmosphere of luxury.
To use them, you need fog machines which are easy to come by. Make sure to contain the smoke and click at the right moment.
Our original pick was only 10 backgrounds but this one here is so unique we couldn’t pass it by. Our 11th choice is… ICE!
As most cosmetics are durable enough to withstand the freezing process, this technique can be used for its crispness and an overall creative vibe that no other background can provide.
Try it out yourself and you’ll realize its impact. The only con is that you have a short timespan to use the ice before it melts. Apart from that, if you just have an ice maker in your freezer, you’re good to go.
Backgrounds can be anything from day-to-day materials to unique materials/pop-ups specifically bought for certain product photography. But what stands as the most important thing is telling the story and matching the color contrast.
Just make sure you’re keeping in mind the things we’ve covered in choosing a background and you’ll be good to go.