Try this quick and easy way to make a backdrop for your photographs. You probably have most of these materials already at your home!
I have made multiples of these and have to admit that these are probably my favorite backdrops.
- old wooden fence planks (2 or 3)
- cardboard or foam core (about 23″ x 20″)
- tacky glue or wood glue (like Aleene’s)
- ruler, yardstick, or tape measure
- pencil or pen to mark the wood
- saw (hand saw)
Clean the wooden planks. Sometimes I sprayed them down with the hose and let them dry in the sun. Other times, if they were not too dirty, I would just use a small dust brush and brush them thoroughly outside.
Measure and mark. For this backdrop, the final measurements will be 27″ x 22″. Measure the planks at 27″ and mark them across with a straight line. Depending on what kind of condition your boards are in, you should be able to get TWO 27″ planks from each fence board.
Cut the wood. Cut 4 total 27″ planks. Because my boards were old and worn, they were fairly easy to cut with a hand saw, but if you have an electric saw, by all means, feel free to use it.
Cut the cardboard. Measure the cardboard section into a 23″ x 20″ rectangle and cut it out. It needs to be a few inches smaller on each side so that it does not show when you flip it over to take pictures of the top.
Lay the cardboard on a flat surface, like a table. After looking at each plank and deciding how they best match together, place the wooden planks on top of the cardboard. (I tried to make sure the color was similar and the knots in the wood were not right next to each other to provide some variety.) None of the cardboard or foam core should be visible from the top. Make sure the 4 planks are lined up at the ends and pressed tightly together.
Glue. One by one, pick up the planks and apply a generous portion of glue to the cardboard. Press the wood into the cardboard. Continue to make sure the boards are pressed tightly next to one another AND remain even at the ends.
Allow it to dry. Keep it flat and allow the glue to dry for the recommended time on your glue bottle. Feel free to add books or something heavy on top of the wooden planks to keep them flat while the glue dries.
You are ready to photograph! Once it is dry, it can be stored easily standing up.
PROS to this type of backdrop:
- planks and cardboard are usually free
- reuse & repurpose wood and cardboard
- natural texture
- neutral color
- matte finish
- easy to clean with brush
- make as large as you want
- easy to store
CONS to this type of backdrop:
- cannot use with lots of water
- harder to clean if food or liquid is spilled on it
- small things can get caught in the gaps
The Pros and Cons in more detail
The pros to this sort of backdrop is that most of the supplies can be found for free so you are reusing and repurposing items that might be taken to the dump. Because the wood has aged, it is lightweight and simple to move to different locations. The wood planks have a lovely natural texture, they often fade to a neutral grey or brown color, and have a matte finish that is not going to cause a reflection in your photos. If you spill crumbs or sprinkles on it, the wood is easily cleaned with a brush. Another added bonus is that you can make the planks as large as you want. It is easy to store by standing up.
Some of the cons are that this is not a good surface to use if you are planning to set up a very wet arrangement, ie, fruits that would look great sprayed with some water or a drink that you are trying to splash some water out of a cup. It can be hard to clean and may stain if food or liquid is spilled on the wood. Sometimes small things, like sprinkles or small chocolate chips, can get caught in the gaps between the planks.
In most instances the pros outweigh the cons and this backdrop is very useful on many occasions. I often use it in combination with other types of backdrops and have been very pleased with the way it photographs in still life shots.
Here is another one that is larger (26″ x 36″) that I made look a bit more rustic at the top. I also put a thin layer of white paint on the wooden planks. You could even stain one a dark brown to get another darker background.
I hope I have helped to give you some ideas to make your own backdrops.
Here is a link to other backdrops made out of wooden palettes.