30+ Creative Studio Backdrop Ideas for Photographers on a Budget

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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.

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62 Comments

  1. Alice C.
    February 20, 2012 at 3:34 pm —

    What fun ideas!!

  2. February 20, 2012 at 3:21 pm —

    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!

  3. Mary
    February 20, 2012 at 3:08 pm —

    if you go the fabric route – look for double wide quilt backing. It’s usually 100% cotton, or a blend, and about 110″ wide for large bed quilts. . . usually it is plain colors, or subtle prints. Here’s an example:

    http://www.joann.com/wide-prints-108-white-on-tan-etchings/zprd_10216638a/

    a few more options:

    http://www.fabric.com/SearchResults2.aspx?Source=Header&SearchText=backing&CategoryID=1d5f47dc-9991-4088-93f3-26a376046a5e

  4. February 20, 2012 at 2:57 pm —

    Thabk you so much. I love these ideas. Very cleaver. Some I have never even thought of!

  5. February 20, 2012 at 11:41 am —

    So, for us beginners, what are the best backdrop dimensions for child/baby photography?

  6. Crystal
    February 20, 2012 at 11:39 am —

    How would you hang these things? (i.e. bath towel)

    • Diana Schmidt
      November 16, 2012 at 5:23 pm —

      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.

  7. February 20, 2012 at 10:44 am —

    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

  8. February 20, 2012 at 10:38 am —

    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.
    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=246550942090190&set=a.170365676375384.41827.130886420323310&type=3&theater

    and $8 in fabric at a fabric store for this shot
    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=246178768794074&set=a.170365676375384.41827.130886420323310&type=3&theater

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

    • May 21, 2013 at 12:00 am —

      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!!!

  9. February 20, 2012 at 10:25 am —

    I found what Brandy was talking about on Wild Heart Photography’s site. very cute! http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150495714929055&set=a.108359454054.95295.104540334054&type=3&theater

    They bought it from http://www.facebook.com/OLDCHATEAU.

    • BRANDY HENDERSON
      February 20, 2012 at 9:02 pm —

      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!

  10. February 20, 2012 at 10:10 am —

    Throw blankets are my fave, so many colors and designs for $5. I also built my own backdrop stand from pvc for under $20

    • February 24, 2012 at 9:36 am —

      I also have a built stand from pvc! 🙂 And blankets are a favorite!

    • glenda
      December 10, 2012 at 12:12 pm —

      Do you have pictures of how you made.the backdrop holder from PVC?

      • Taylor
        January 3, 2014 at 12:36 pm —

        Glenda, using the PVC is very easy and cheap! I did it also! 🙂 But you can easily google a how to on it or use Pinterest if you have one! Good luck!

  11. David
    February 20, 2012 at 10:04 am —

    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.

  12. February 20, 2012 at 9:47 am —

    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.

  13. February 20, 2012 at 9:41 am —

    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!

    • February 20, 2012 at 8:36 pm —

      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!

  14. BRANDY HENDERSON
    February 20, 2012 at 9:28 am —

    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

  15. Jennifer
    February 20, 2012 at 9:21 am —

    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.

  16. February 20, 2012 at 9:18 am —

    Laundry Basket with a blanket over top.

  17. February 20, 2012 at 9:18 am —

    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.

  18. February 20, 2012 at 9:17 am —

    I recently used a table cloth for Valentine’s day!

  19. February 20, 2012 at 9:15 am —

    Burlap, old records glued to a piece of foam insulation, colorful paper from the teachers mart, paneling from Lowes, old shutters

  20. February 20, 2012 at 9:13 am —

    I have taped newspapers up and used them as a fashion background before….works rather nice. 🙂

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30+ Creative Studio Backdrop Ideas for Photographers on a Budget