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30+ Creative Studio Backdrop Ideas for Photographers on a Budget

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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  1. February 20, 2012 at 9:13 am — Reply

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

    • February 23, 2012 at 5:29 pm — Reply

      Great idea!

  2. February 20, 2012 at 9:15 am — Reply

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

  3. February 20, 2012 at 9:17 am — Reply

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

  4. February 20, 2012 at 9:18 am — Reply

    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.

  5. February 20, 2012 at 9:18 am — Reply

    Laundry Basket with a blanket over top.

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

    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.

    February 20, 2012 at 9:28 am — Reply

    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

  8. February 20, 2012 at 9:41 am — Reply

    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 — Reply

      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!

  9. February 20, 2012 at 9:47 am — Reply

    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.

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

    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.

  11. February 20, 2012 at 10:10 am — Reply

    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 — Reply

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

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

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

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

        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!

  12. February 20, 2012 at 10:25 am — Reply

    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.

      February 20, 2012 at 9:02 pm — Reply

      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!

  13. February 20, 2012 at 10:38 am — Reply

    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.

    • May 21, 2013 at 12:00 am — Reply

      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!!!

  14. February 20, 2012 at 10:44 am — Reply

    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

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

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

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

      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.

  16. February 20, 2012 at 11:41 am — Reply

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

  17. February 20, 2012 at 2:57 pm — Reply

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

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

    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:


    a few more options:


  19. February 20, 2012 at 3:21 pm — Reply

    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!

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

    What fun ideas!!

  21. February 20, 2012 at 4:13 pm — Reply

    I scope out the wall hangings area in World Market. I love he fun prints with the earth tone! 🙂

  22. February 20, 2012 at 4:33 pm — Reply

    Thanks for the ideas!

  23. February 20, 2012 at 5:22 pm — Reply

    Great ideas, thank you for sharing! I have once spread a silk dressing gown to use as a backdrop.

  24. February 20, 2012 at 5:43 pm — Reply

    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!

  25. Brittney
    February 20, 2012 at 7:15 pm — Reply

    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

  26. February 20, 2012 at 7:47 pm — Reply

    I have used fabrics and wall paper from specialty wallpaper stores. All above are great ideas!

  27. February 21, 2012 at 9:25 am — Reply

    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

  28. Michelle
    February 21, 2012 at 5:18 pm — Reply

    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!

  29. Bonnie Thompson
    February 21, 2012 at 9:53 pm — Reply

    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.

  30. February 25, 2012 at 2:13 pm — Reply

    Baby Blankets (for small ceramic items)! My son has plenty, and won’t notice if I borrow one for a few minutes 😉

  31. February 27, 2012 at 2:54 pm — Reply

    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!

  32. March 17, 2012 at 2:17 pm — Reply

    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.

  33. April 10, 2012 at 1:32 pm — Reply

    I glued textured wallpaper to styrofoam board and then dry brushed with a slightly golden paint.

  34. May 16, 2012 at 2:44 pm — Reply

    Here’s a photo list of my backdrops. I use flat sheets, curtains, swatches of unused fabric, painters floor muslin and more. You can find it on my blog and leave some comments! Thanks


  35. Debbie Panton
    May 16, 2012 at 9:05 pm — Reply

    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.

  36. Lori
    June 30, 2012 at 2:17 am — Reply

    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!

  37. patrick mchugh
    July 18, 2012 at 9:22 am — Reply

    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

  38. August 19, 2012 at 3:34 am — Reply

    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.

    • Wendy
      January 20, 2013 at 12:00 am — Reply

      Love this idea!

    • February 18, 2013 at 10:33 pm — Reply

      How do you hide the seams in the fabric or do you do that when processing pics. Love your idea!

  39. snapshotsbyjenny
    October 7, 2012 at 12:16 pm — Reply

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

  40. cindy heckert
    October 23, 2012 at 10:13 pm — Reply

    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 .

  41. cindy heckert
    October 23, 2012 at 10:21 pm — Reply

    here is another idea for outdoors
    i pick the horse up at a yard sale

  42. November 16, 2012 at 11:48 am — Reply

    Loved these ideas!! I’ve been looking at so many different backdrop sites and they are SO expensive!! Thanks!

  43. December 5, 2012 at 12:50 pm — Reply

    After reading your tips I come up with this.

  44. Iris Martinez
    January 8, 2013 at 10:01 pm — Reply

    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 🙂

  45. Hannah
    February 2, 2013 at 5:05 pm — Reply

    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?

    • joy Heathcote
      March 26, 2013 at 9:13 pm — Reply

      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.

  46. joy Heathcote
    March 26, 2013 at 9:12 pm — Reply

    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.

  47. March 28, 2013 at 5:06 am — Reply

    I am interested in doing something with bubble wrap. What have you guys tried that works well? Thanks for your input.

  48. June 26, 2013 at 8:31 pm — Reply

    I need to create a beach scene inexpensively and quickly. Any ideas on how to do this?

  49. August 1, 2013 at 1:34 pm — Reply

    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!


  50. Vicky W.
    September 22, 2013 at 12:20 pm — Reply

    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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30+ Creative Studio Backdrop Ideas for Photographers on a Budget