30+ Creative Studio Backdrop Ideas for Photographers on a Budget

There are dozens of incredible backdrop companies in the marketplace now.  When I first started shooting, you pretty much were limited in studio to heavy muslin backdrops or large paper rolls.  Not anymore.  Now you can get incredible designs and scenes on almost any imaginable material.  Some are pricey, some are not.

For newer photographers and for those on a budget, we created a list of things you can use for backdrops in your studio, Big thanks to all those who contributed on my Facebook.  Chances are you have some items sitting around your house right now. And if not most are easy to find and are inexpensive. If you venture outdoors, your options open up even more…

Image by Tashana Klonius Designs

Ideas for backdrops to use inside your home or studio:

  1. Shower curtains
  2. Large towels (such as beach towels)
  3. Blankets (especially King Size)
  4. Tablecloths
  5. Quilts
  6. Wood paneling
  7. Christmas lights (if shooting very shallow DOF)
  8. Sheets
  9. Fabric (velvet, cloth, flannel, etc)
  10. Curtains
  11. Quilts
  12. Antique or painted door
  13. Bubble wrap tacked to a board
  14. Upholstery fabric
  15. Old newspapers
  16. Wrapping paper
  17. Scrapbook paper
  18. Rugs
  19. Kitchen drawer paper liner
  20. Bamboo shade
  21. Plywood sheets
  22. Mirrors
  23. Tile board
  24. Old display boards from department stores/retail stores
  25. Wooden blinds
  26. Painter’s drop cloth
  27. Seamless paper + added recycled party decorations
  28. Wall paneling from a hardware store + paint
  29. Huge flag
  30. Old garage door (recycled)
  31. Aluminum foil glued to a board
  32. Garage floor

Now it is your turn.  In the comments, let us know what fun, inexpensive or unusual things you have used as backdrops for your indoor photography.

Jodi Friedman, MCP Actions

Jodi Friedman is the founder of MCP Actions. She designs popular Photoshop actions and Lightroom presets that make editing faster, easier and more fun.

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  1. 5


    I love the fact that you can find awesome backdrops anywhere now. I have been finding old sheets and curtains at thrift stores and on clearance racks. I have also dyed and spray painted plain white sheets. Sometimes you can get them from a hotel cheap.

  2. 7

    Jennifer says

    I bought school billboard paper and used that, modge podge it to a plywood board, I have several of these for inside and they work great! I just store them along my wall, they hardly take up any space.

  3. 8


    I am currently working on a backdrop that I seen on a fellow photogs site that she paid for but I am gonna make it myself. You take material and cut it into strips it is actually very pretty. To see what I am talking about check out wild hearts photography on fb

  4. 9


    A plain backdrop or wall decorated with paper chains or cut-outs. I also like the fabric scraps idea mentioned above. I have seen these ideas on freshartphotography.com. Love their creativity!

    • 10


      Hi Carrie! A friend saw your comment and mentioned it to me! I just wanted to say thanks! :) We use fabric scraps and torn fabric constantly! Another favorite is yarn or ribbon tied to your backdrop stand… that can get kind of expensive but Hobby Lobby or other craft stores have such great sales I watch for ribbon to go on sale and scoop it up!

  5. 11


    I bought black denim fabric from a discount craft store. It made an amazing, solid color backdrop! The suggestion came from my motorcycle-riding brother.

  6. 12

    David says

    The walls!

    I just got done shooting publicity/headshots for a theatre group that rehearses in a 140-year old brick building. The interior walls are bricks. I just move the subject 8+ feet away from the wall and the bricks go out of focus into a great background. This might not work for all instances, but this group identifies with their rehearsal space and they always like them.

    • 18


      I know that they bought theirs but I decided to make my own… I think I can do it cheaper than they want for it!

  7. 19


    I used a $5 twin sized black sheet from Wal-Mart for this shot. I just burned in the background in PSE9 with the burn tool set to burn in shadows.

    and $8 in fabric at a fabric store for this shot

    I’d love some actual backdrops, but just can’t afford them right now. I think sheets and fabrics have made great fill-ins.

    • 20


      Britneye, I followed your facebook site and your pictures are wonderful with just the sheet and the $8 fabric!!! You couldn’t tell! Looks like you bought them from one of those expensive places! Great job!!!

  8. 21


    Podiums of different heights topped with item reflecting the theme/season, as well as multiple sized and shaped hand made wreaths with colors tying into one another, also reflecting the theme/season

    • 23

      Diana Schmidt says

      You can hang with clamps – like the ones you squeeze and clamp on (like a jumper cable clamp). And you can use shelf hangers on the back of trim at the bottom of whatever you choose to hang……to make it look like a wall.

  9. 28


    Those ideas are especially applicable to newborn portraits. There is so much you can do with fabric and throw blankets – much more budget friendly (and easier to collect a large variety of choices for clients) than expensive backdrops!

  10. 33


    LOVE the photojojo idea, thanks for sharing… I use black velvet for pictures on black – it’s soft, easy to fold and no wrinkles (there are several kinds out there, I use the soft and matte one, not shiny)! The advantage of velvet is that it absorbs light (imho) better than other black fabrics, really works well for me. In addition to what’s on the list, I used YARN for building fun backgrounds (similar to the photojojo idea) AND rolls of yarn are great for posing newborns too!

  11. 34

    Brittney says

    Brittney I have that same fabric in blue and green. I love that you can use the solid side or pattern! 2 yards of fabric = newborn backdrop for under $10

  12. 36


    I used clothing line tied onto two trees, and let 2 kids go crazy with paint slinging…then used the paint splattered white sheets as a backdrop for them :) They had so much fun creating the mess haha

  13. 37

    Michelle says

    I love the ideas, but I too am curious to how you pin them up or make them stand as a backdrop? Please help us, proffs!

  14. 38

    Bonnie Thompson says

    I use 5 yards of the widest fabric I can find at a local discount fabric store — usually 45-50″ wide. Solids, patterns whatever. Outdoor fabrics have a nice texture and are wide. Makes a nice sweep from background bar to floor and plenty big enough for small children. I’v also shot two adults and a child with this set — nice tight crop and people close together.

  15. 40


    I have not yet to do this but have thought about it a lot. So hopefully it pans out seems like a great idea. Taking a plan color sheet and going to the craft section of any store and getting my self some stamps ive seen all kinds of them. But plans are to stamp the pattern onto the sheet and make my whole backdrops. Im sure some sort of paper would work as well instead of a sheet. if anyone trys this please let me know how it works out!

  16. 41


    We have found ol doors and my fav a 4×4 foot section of faux brick at the habitat for humanities builder’s bargains stores and used those for backgrounds. It is always fun finding new ways to use old things. We LOVE goodwill!!!

    This Picture was done with the curtains from our bedroom thrown onto our Mobile backdrop stand. So essentially free, just the time it took to move them and put them back afterward, like 5 mins total.

  17. 44

    Debbie Panton says

    I have a wall in my kitchen painted with chalk board paint and framed with some old trim boards. Makes a great backdrop for pictures and we change it constantly for different seasons or occasions and with different coloured chalk. Enjoyed reading all the great suggestions too.

  18. 45

    Lori says

    My “Day” job is at a woman’s retail location. Despite the name it is not really a Barn (Hint hint) There are over 850 locations in the US. We change our windows and wall posters out fairly frequently. They are for the most part 4ftx6ft sheets. The poster are thrown away. Most stores if you ask will give you the discarded posters.
    The backside of these posters are white. I recently painted one to make a backdrop for my daughters wedding reception. We are doing a photo “booth” wall. It turned out really cute!

  19. 46

    patrick mchugh says

    just brought a back drop to big it is for my flat but your ideas have inspired me especialy sheets as you can get them in any colour these days will be ideal for doing a portrait shoot of my mate and his family thank you for the insparation

  20. 47


    I use 4×8 sheets of foam insulation (available at home improvement stores) I spray them with Super 77 spray adhesive and then smooth pretty fabric over them. I place them against the wall and place a piece of painted baseboard trim against it. You can make two backdrops per sheet by using both sides. They take very little space and cost about $30 each.

  21. 50

    snapshotsbyjenny says

    Not a great photo but i have used scrapbook paper bu taking a pic and composed the two pics togeather

  22. 51

    cindy heckert says

    big dresser mirror, the holidays door maurls ,and dollor tree has beach door maurls,the holloweens ones are so nice at halloween partys with kids in halloween outfits. and went to yards sales and pick up props. differnt hats at sales. or even drivin down the road people through things out i got a few cool things to use that why two just need your imaganation .

  23. 55

    Iris Martinez says

    For indoors I use one yard $1 fabrics from Walmart they work very well when working with children and babies. For outdoors I seek rustic objects such as old doors, fences, ect :)

  24. 56

    Hannah says

    How do you hang fabric backdrops? Say if you were in a client’s home and not able to affix anything to a wall/ceiling.

    Are there some kind of stands that can be easily erected, with a rail to clip to?

    • 57

      joy Heathcote says

      I just noticed you asked this after I already wrote it below but I used painters tape. itdoesnt leave any moarks on the clients wall.

  25. 58

    joy Heathcote says

    I went to the dollar tree and bought the jumbo plastic clothes pins to use as clamps. I also use fabric and my favorite is shower curtains so many styles and colors. When i did a session at the clients home I used my “backdrops” and taped them to the wall using painters tape. i leaves no marks on the walls! also I have used wrapping paper before too.

  26. 61


    Hi everyone! saw the newspaper idea, I love it!
    but I wanna know, I want a backdrop which doesn’t reflect flash?
    please let me know of some ideas!


  27. 62

    Vicky W. says

    I am trying to plan for my first photo shoot and really need help. It’s my niece and she is wanting preggo pics done with a Fall theme since she is due in November. Any suggestions on what to use and how to create a very inexpensive backdrop? So far I have ideas in my head but stuck there. Wanting a black background and going to use hay bales and fake fall leaves and pumpkins and somehow try and figure out how to position her for the photo. Any suggestions?

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