We're all aware of how important visuals are in today's world, and with most brands and businesses utilizing blogs and social media to tell their story and engage with their viewers, there is no shortage of opportunities to create our own content and capture beautiful photos.
Though obviously the subject matter itself is an important element of any photo, one of the things that helps a photo stand out in a sea of beautifully styled and shot images on Pinterest or Instagram is the backdrop itself. A good backdrop not only highlights the subject, it also adds its own character to a photo and helps tell the overall story. It's also a great opportunity to create brand consistency, helping to create a signature look for the photos you post.
The wonderful thing is, you don't need access to a studio or to spend a lot of money to create a library of your own blog and social media photo backdrops, and today I'm going to share some of my favourite ideas that you can find and create yourself.
Though this isn't a post about branding, I would recommend that you definitely keep it in mind when sourcing and creating your blog and social media photo backdrops. It's important to think about how each backdrop enhances and communicates your overall brand vision and aesthetic. For example, Bicyclette is all about bright whites, dreamy pastels and pops of colour layered with crisp black and white graphics, so that's something that I always keep in mind when styling and taking photos, whether they're for the blog or Instagram.
Another tip I would give you is to always keep your eyes out for potential photo backdrops. These can be backdrops that you add to your personal collection, a really great table at a local cafe, or a brightly coloured wall you find in your neighbourhood that is the perfect shade to match your brand. You never know what you might find, and who doesn't love a good treasure hunt?
Oh, and on top of the ideas below, one of the first backdrops you'll want to add to your collection is a piece of white poster or foam board. They're cheap, can be found at your local craft store (or even dollar store), and you might want to stash a couple to have on hand, because they'll inevitably get scuffed up from use. An added bonus? You can also use these as reflectors to bounce light.
1 // Coloured.
I'm a big fan of the coloured backdrop, especially when you're showcasing something simple in your photo, or are trying to create visual interest in your feed. It's a great way to add personality and highlight your brand aesthetic.
You have a few options when it comes to coloured backdrops: coloured poster board is always an easy option, or you can pick up a seamless photo backdrop, which will last for awhile. I've also used wrapping paper or just regular-sized coloured paper if the subject matter is small.
Another option - and my personal favourite - way to create your own coloured backdrops requires a little more DIY time, but if you want to have more colour options, I'd highly recommend painting your own backdrops. Visit the nearest Home Depot and grab a few sheets of thin wood (mine were smooth, coated on one side and around $5 a piece) and then head to the paint section. Pick out the colours you want, and then instead of buying full cans, get the small sample containers used for testing out a colour. They're usually about $2-3 a pot, and will be more than enough. You'll also want to purchase a small roller. You can paint both sides of the board, and you have a 2-in-1 backdrop in your signature brand colours. These are what I use most often, and I now have a collection of four key colours that I primarily use.
2 // Diagonal two-tone.
A more recent trend we've started seeing in styling and photography is multiple colours or backdrops layered, often diagonally. It's a playful, graphic and colourful option and is really great for simple subject matter and for pulling multiple colours into a styled shot. You can use any backdrops you have on hand and simply layer them together for the desired effect. Paper is a great option, and my go-to is often marble with a pop of colour cutting across a corner, as I like the juxtaposition of the lightly textured surface with the bold solid.
3 //Natural materials.
The idea here is to replicate the look of a surface you would find in a specific space - a marble or reclaimed wood table in a kitchen, for example. Great for recipe or behind-the-scenes workspace photos, they give more of a feeling of an actual setting, offering a peek into the story of where the subject matter might be.
You can pick up a slab of marble at many home stores, or order samples from a kitchen supplier if you're looking for a larger surface, which will replicate the idea of marble counters or a tabletop short of having the real thing in your home or studio space. Marble tiles, cutting boards or contact paper also give the same sort of effect and are a more budget-friendly option.
For a wooden surface, depending on what kind of look you like, you can pick up a wooden crate or door from an antique store, or even just grab a few boards to piece together.
Cafes and restaurants are also a great place to source marble and wooden surfaces, so don't be afraid to pack a few extra props the next time you have a work date and style a photo there. It's the perfect time to capture that perfect latte-and-computer shot.
4 // Textured.
Another great way to add visual interest and depth to your photo is through texture, and for these backdrops it's really just a matter of looking around your home. Pieces of fabric, clothing or bedsheets work really well, or even a carpet or a fur rug can help tell your story.
I'm also a big fan of taking it outside and sourcing good walls, which could be neutral or coloured, or even painted doorways and other architectural elements.
I've also started using a piece of iridescent glitter paper as a backdrop for when I want something with a little more texture than just plain white, and it also provides just a hint of shimmer.
5 // Prints and patterns.
Great for creating more elaborate compositions or helping a lighter coloured or solid subject matter stand out, prints and patterns and a lot of personality into a shot. Wallpaper, fabric and wrapping paper is great for this, or you can even paint your own.
I've also used photos, coffee table books or magazine tear sheets as photo backdrops, which can be a great way to tie into a specific theme you're trying to convey, or add a graphic element with the text.