DIY Food Photography Backdrops

Backdrops are an essential part of your food blogging business, or any photography business. When you are first starting out or even if you are a seasoned food blogger, you will love making DIY food photography backdrops!

2 different shades of pink being drizzled over the wood board ready to blend in.

There are many ways to make DIY food photography backdrops, but one of my favorites is with plywood.

While I do use a lot of purchased backdrops, I do still use a few of my homemade ones all the time and I love them! They are great to start on and you can continue to use them throughout your blogging career. They can be used for any photography, not just for food.

I use the homemade plywood boards more often for my videos then I do backdrops that I purchased. They are more durable and I don’t want to damage a $70 backdrop by using a hot pad on it.

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What you need

Supplies needed to make the DIY backdrops.

Please excuse the dirty table, it is our $30 plastic camping table that is used specifically for messy things like painting and pumpkin carving.

If you have a table like this that you do not care about, then you probably won’t care if you put down protection. But there is a good possibility that you are going to be using a good table, so I do recommend using a cover.

  • House paint samples from your local home improvement (or paint) store – Preferably matte finish. You want to pick out about 3-4 shades for each board. We like contrast for this so we use dark and light shades.
  • Wood sticks – You can use popsicle sticks or they sell a package of larger sticks used for stirring the paint, they are usually pretty cheap.
  • Sponges – Try to get sponges without the scrubby side. You will not be using the scrubby side.
  • Foam paint sponges (optional) – They are great to have on hand in case you need them for the texture you want.
  • Mixing trays or coated paper plates – We use the plates for these DIY food photography backdrops as they are cheap and work great.
  • Bucket or a cup with water
  • Plywood boards or wood boards cut to 2 feet by 2 feet or any size you want to make them – Home Depot and Lowes cut the wood for you if needed. They also usually have some 2×2 feet boards already cut.
  • Cover for table – Anything that can get paint on it and will protect your table.
  • Drink optional but I did some of these on a hot day in the sun so I needed it!

Decide on texture

First you want to decide on the texture you want for your backdrops. Do you want it to look like there are lines in it? Do you want it to look swirled? Or maybe you want it to be dabbed to give it a mixed color texture.

You can have some fun and make a bunch! I do recommend trying different textures and try some different techniques. These are your DIY food photography backdrops to use in your food pictures, make them how you like.

Dabbing with multiple colors

Paint from 4 different shades being applied to the wood board with a sponge.

This one will give some contrast and can be a really nice backdrop! I use this kind most often when I use my DIY backdrops. They stand out and add a nice bit of detail to the picture without taking away from it.

For this backdrop, you want to take 3-4 shades of a color. Sometimes I do 3 of a color and then white as the 4th, but like I said before have fun with it!

Place some of each color on a plate without mixing them together. Now take your sponge (sponge works best here) and dab it into all 4 colors. Dab it onto the wood until you have the shade and design you want. You can do one layer or go for more layers. If you do one layer, you do often see the wood texture under the paint (which is ok with me.)

This is my ham and bean soup taken on a grey DIY food photography backdrop that uses this technique.

Ham and bean soup in serving dishes on a grey DIY backdrop.

I used 3 shades of grey and then white with it. See how you can see the wood texture through the paint? I like it that way, but if you do not you can do another layer once it dries.

Solid color with swirl texture

Baby blue wood DIY food photography backdrop finished painting and ready to use.

The glare is there for a reason. I wanted to show you that with these backdrops that there isn’t a strong glare (considering this was the sun beating down directly on it while still drying.) This is direct sun overhead on a hot summer day with wet paint. As it dries, the glare will be barely there.

For this technique I used all one color. You can mix colors to get the perfect shade if you like here. I used the foam paint sponge brush for this DIY food photography backdrop. You can use a regular sponge as well if you do not have the brushes. The foam brushes can be purchased at paint stores, craft stores or home improvement stores.

Take the paint and put some on the plate. Apply in a half circle or full circle motion (depending on the look you are going for.) This creates a nice texture without overpowering your food photography.

Imperfect or perfect lines on the backdrop

Pasta on a plate with basil as a garnish on a pink backdrop with swirled texture added.

While this isn’t my favorite edited photo, I took it while playing around with the backdrops, it does show the lines I want to mention.

The picture at the top of the post shows the pink paint drizzled onto the board. This was discovered by accident but I do love it on some of the DIY backdrops I made!

I accidentally discovered it because I drizzled it over the board in the hot summer sun. It started to set almost instantly onto the board. I went to use my sponge to smooth it across the board and saw lines of the paint that already started to dry remain.

On a hot day, you only need to drizzle it over and let it sit for about 1-2 minutes before smoothing it over. Inside you may want it to sit for about 5 minutes before smoothing it over. You will want to add more paint to your sponge as you are smoothing it over.

Let them dry

They will start to feel dry pretty quickly, but they will need more time to dry completely. I let them dry for about 24 hours before using them as a backdrop.

Do not stack your DIY food photography backdrops on top of each other until they are dry, but once they are completely dry you can store them stacked.

Frequently asked questions

Can I repaint my backdrops?

Sure you can! I have gone over and changed the colors of them because I didn’t like the way they looked after they dried.

I also like to go over them to touch them up when they are getting a little worn out.

Should I protect them with a finish?

No, most finishes are glossy and you will be adding more shine to them. If you use a matte paint you will not have any real light glare in your photos. If you add a finish, you will likely have a glare in your photos.

Can I clean my DIY food photography backdrops?

You can spot clean with a damp paper towel, but do not submerge them into water. Interior house paint can get wet on occasion, but I wouldn’t saturate them.

I do not put raw meats or wet foods on these for safety reasons. You can put veggies on them before cutting and washing, but do not put cut veggies that you are going to eat on them.

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