When doing product photography, your background can mean the difference between a good photograph and a great one. You’ll want to select a background that brings out the product’s features instead of one that leads the viewer to page past the photo.
Many photographers prefer a solid white background. One way to that background is to use a white sheet or cloth and hang it over a frame or board. When photographing a small object, hang the sheet over on a chair. Using a sheet can add a subtle texture to the background because the weave of the cloth will provide part of the “mood” of the photo.
Some products don’t photograph well with a white background. Light-colored products or products with golden trim may be set off better by a black background. Using bright solid colors, you can also give a product a “playful” appearance. The background color should be complementary if the item is a solid color.
Another way to get a solid background is to use a “sweep.” A sweep uses a paper roll or a large piece of bendable paper. Set the top of the paper against a frame or a wall; then, curve the paper forward. Lie the product on the bottom surface of the paper. This gives the background a solid look, and the curve is not seen
To emphasize the product’s usability, you can select a background that demonstrates its use. For example, a bottle of suntan oil might be placed on sand, with flowing waves in the background, while a set of dishes can be shown on a kitchen table. If your product is a clothing item, let someone model it or use a mannequin.
If your product is very small, you might decide to use a blurred background. Using a picture of a partially blurred office desk, for example, with a focused pen, will draw your viewers’ eyes to the pen and its unique features – while reminding them of the typical setting for its use.
If you’re a beginning photographer, you want to be sure your materials don’t break the bank. So, here are some ideas for inexpensive background materials:
- Vinyl – They’re durable and come in many different patterns. If your product spills, a vinyl background is easy to clean. You’ll be able to use them with multiple projects.
- Foam Board – Foam boards run the gamut of colors and patterns and are easy to find at department or hobby stores. They are also inexpensive
- Bokeh – This method completely will blur your background. You’ll need to use the correct lens and use your F-stop. Doing this will draw all the attention to the project.
- Fabric – This gives you a wide range of color and pattern choices and is more durable than paper. You can use fabric you already own.
- Stones or Sand – These materials can provide a natural depth to the photograph, especially if the product can be used outdoors.
- Leaves or plants – The green leaves of a plant can bring beauty to the photo, or an autumn photo spread can always be highlighted by orange and red leaves. (1)
- Rugs – These will give you lots of texture and can be the perfect background for many products. (1)
- Decorative Tiles – these can make an intricate mosaic background or be arranged as a window border around the product (1)
- Wallpaper or Wrapping Paper – These come in large rolls to serve as a background for large products. Of course, they also come in many colors and patterns. (1)
- Ice – Ice can be a unique and exciting background for a product photo. You could freeze small products inside or crush the ice and use it as a surface for your product to sit on. Ice melts, though – so take your picture quickly! (1)
These backgrounds are just the beginning. Your creativity will probably serve you well as you plan the perfect photo for your products.
(1) “12 Product Photography Backgrounds: Creative Background Ideas” posted on soona.co
(2) “Product Photography 101: How To Take Product Photos That Sell” posted on Wix.com
(3) “The Beginners’ Guide to Product Photography,” posted on hubspot.com