The best cheap backgrounds for food photography and social media flatlays. My secrets for faux marble, vinyl ‘wood’, baking sheets and more! All $25 or less.
I have gotten an overwhelming amount of positive responses to the flatlay and food photography tutorials that I share on Snapchat. You guys really like seeing what I use to create my food images and all of the fun flatlays I share on Instagram. Because you are obviously interested in the behind-the-scenes part of blogging, I thought I would turn it into a series right here! It will be nice to have a permanent home for all of the things I’ve learned over the years.
I wanted to kick things off by sharing some of the backgrounds I use almost daily for food photography and also for flatlay shots on Instagram.The most expensive background I use regularly is $25 and many are FREE! Also, you’re not sure what a flatlay is, it’s those fun overhead shots of things arranged beautifully that are so common on social media.
Cheap Backgrounds for Food Photography
DIY Faux Marble Photography Background
One of my favorite photography backgrounds, faux marble, was only $10. I took a plain foam core board and covered it with faux marble contact paper. It’s the most realistic marble surface that I’ve worked with, and I actually own the fancy Sur la Table marble slab that every blogger on the planet has. I’ve also tried a faux marble vinyl shooting surface made specially for food photography and the contact paper was still better.
White Posterboard as a Photography Background
I also love white poster board. They are a dollar at my local drugstore, meaning I don’t have to feel guilty if I stain them with food. This one ended up with frosting and grease spots, but it didn’t matter! The matte finish means light is distributed evenly and they also double as great homemade light bounces (reflectors).
Distressed Metal Shooting Surface
I rescued an old drip pan used for automotive work from the trash and it’s turned into one of my most beloved shooting surfaces. I just have to remind myself that it’s not food safe! This is the exact one that I have, but obviously some nice stranger did all of the hard work distressing it for me.
Apologies, because I know it’s frustrating to hear about props that are one-of-a-kind, but let me say this. Keep your eyes open for potential props in even the most unlikely places and eventually you will stumble upon a gem too!
Vintage Baking Sheets for Food Photography
Old baking sheets make amazing shooting surfaces. You can often find them for a few bucks. The more banged up the better. You can also make them even more interesting by spilling things on them and baking them at high heat. Olive oil is a good one.
Salvaged Wood Photography Background
This piece of wood is another gem I picked up along the side of the street. I’m not exactly sure what type of wood it is, but it’s awesome because it mimics boards of wood but they are actually all connected into one sheet that is fairly lightweight. I painted it with two coats of primer and voila – a beautiful shooting surface that was free.
Linen Towels as a Photography Background
A linen towel gives a little texture and can make a great food photography background. Fair disclosure, there are many people that use linens as props well and make it look effortless, but I am not one of them. I find that I spend a lot of time editing later to make the color more even. That being said, towels are cheap and it’s worth a try to see if they fit into your photography style!
Vinyl Faux Wood Photography Background
My last favorite is vinyl faux painted wood background you see in the photo above. It’s the most expensive of my cheap background options, but still a great value at $25. I love that it rolls up and can be tucked away when not in use.
What are your thoughts? What shooting surfaces do you love?
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