Photographing your Work - On a Budget: Surfaces & Backdrops

Photographing your Work - On a Budget: Surfaces & Backdrops

Whether you're looking to photograph your crochet for your Instagram-worthy shots or just to have on hand for your own inspiration, the backdrop or surface that you want to use is the first thing I always think of before taking a photo.

This is the start of a brand-new series of blog posts where I focus on my favorite tips for taking great photos of your art, but on a budget! No subscriptions, and as cheap as possible! Find the master post for the series here for a list of all the blog posts and where to find them! Be sure to save the pocket guide from my Instagram as well for a quick reference when inspiration strikes!

Everyday Home Surfaces ($)

Do you have a coffee table or dining table that you absolutely love the look of? Use it as a backdrop! I absolutely love the walnut veneer on my coffee table and use it all the time for simple backdrops for my flatlay photos. Experiment with using different textures and different things around your home - and outside it! Is there a bench at the local park that has just beautiful texture? Use that as a flatlay photo! Just be sure to clean up after yourself if you use any props!

Some of my favorite places to take pictures around my home:

  • Coffee Table
  • Dining Table
  • Outdoor benches
  • Patio
  • Bed - with clean sheets!

Heck, if you have a specific rug or carpeting you like, you can also use that as a simple, easy, and cheap backdrop!

Mother Nature ($)

Mother nature has some of the best views to offer, from wide open prairies to waterfalls and dense forests - depending on where you live, anyway!

Use the grass around you for a simple outdoors backdrop or get crafty with the different seasons! I like to use the great outdoors for getting some great natural pictures of my Amigurumi projects, but it'd also be great for some clothing shots as well! Nature trails offer some great views, and also give you some time outdoors, another bonus!

Yet another bonus - the outdoors also has some great natural props you can use for decor in your photos! But we'll get to that next week. ;)

Blankets & Textiles ($-$$)

Textiles are another great option for your crochet work - and there's some great ways to get them!

You can use blankets, sheets, old fabric, and even curtains around your home as a quick and easy background for your projects, or even find something at your store of choice that you absolutely love! It's a great way to soften up the background of your photos.

I've also seen people using faux fur fabric as a backdrop for winter shoots to warm the photo up some - experiment with your favorite textiles and textures to figure out your favorite combo! For some added texture to your pictures, give the fabric a quick ruffle to your liking! In the photo below, I used an old set of curtains I kept around for literally no reason - aside from this, I suppose! I laid them out on a bench and gave them a bit of a ruffle to add some texture to use as a simple backdrop for my size comparison photos.

DIY Photo Board ($$)

If you've been on the internet for some time, I'm sure you've seen plenty of blog posts and ads for the Replica Surfaces. While the concept is great, they can be extremely expensive. Ranging anywhere from just $30 for off-brand versions to a whopping $90 for the real deal. Crazy, right?

This is where the DIY part comes in. Last year, I set out to get myself a small set of photo boards, but without breaking the bank. I started off by taking a look at the stock that my local craft stores had! I was able to find some contact paper that was made to look like wood that I liked and some foam craft boards to stick it to. It was perfect! Wide enough to be able to take a variety of photos on, but also compact enough that I can slide the boards behind my yarn cubbies when I'm not using them. I also found some brackets on amazon that were perfect for keeping them sturdy and upright for my kitchen and bath shoots!

Materials you need:

  1. 3/18" or 5 mm Foam Craft Board of your preferred size ($11.99 for a set of 2 from Michaels)
    • I was able to get a pack of 2 20"x30" ones for $11.99 from Michaels, but any craft store should have these in stock as well!
    • Alternatively, you can also find similar ones on Amazon, though the sizes vary
    • Corrugated Cardboard Boards will also work for this!
  2. Contact Paper in the color/design of your choice (Amazon ranges from $5 and upwards for this, depending on the design you want)
    • Peel and stick tiles and wallpaper also work for this! It's all about your budget for this portion
  3. (Optional) Photo backdrop clips ($12.99 for a set of 2 from Amazon)
    • The backdrop clips are only needed if you want an easy way to stand a board upright along with a flat board. You will only need 1 set of these for most! If you'd like to do a corner shoot, you may need an extra set, however.

I ended up making a few double-sided boards with different options and then used some faux 3D Subway tiles to give myself a few different kitchen options for potholders, scrubbies, and other kitchen items! While the 3D Subway tiles were a bit pricier, I thought it was a great way to add some texture at a budget friendly price! For one board, I ended up spending about $10 total, and that's double-sided, so I have a few different options, and infinitely reusable!

Faux Greenery ($$)

Looking for a different, studio friendly option for the outdoors shoots? You can also look into faux greenery for indoor use!

From faux grass to faux boxwoods and other plants, this is a great option for those snowy winter days when you're looking for something more spring/summer-like. Or maybe, you're in the middle of a draught and the outdoors just doesn't look so appealing. In that case, try looking into faux greenery squares! These will be pricier, but there's no watering required to keep them green!

You can find some of these squares on Amazon for as cheap as $20 for a few squares to much pricier options - just be sure to weigh your options and read through reviews before making your purchase!

Home Reno Materials ($$+)

Another great option - using leftover home reno materials! From leftover flooring to leftover woods, there's sure to be plenty left from your last home reno!

Haven't renovated your home recently or renting? Not a problem - using the DIY Photo Boards above is a great replacement for this! I suggest to use this option only if you have leftovers - as home renovation materials can get pricy, fast! It's all about using what you have!

For my ridge mug sweater pattern, I actually used a piece of wood leftover from a DIY project of mine, along with some leftover walnut wood stain! It turned out great and I couldn't be happier with the surface! I love using this surface whenever possible!

Did this post give you any inspiration on what you can use next to photograph your projects? Let me know in the comments below! And don't forget to check out the master post for all the released posts and future releases of this series! And don't forget to check out the Instagram Pocket Guide and save to your account to use it for some inspiration in a pinch!

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