12 product photography backgrounds: creative backdrop ideas

by | Sep 10, 2021

backgrounds can make all the difference when it comes to product photography. they’re kinda like the ultimate product photo wingman. sure – you could let your product be the star of the show. or you can get creative with your backgrounds and use them to accentuate and emphasize your product’s best qualities.

here are 12 different product photography background options – including several budget-friendly & DIY options.

what to consider when choosing product photography backgrounds

picking a backdrop can feel like an overwhelming challenge. there are virtually limitless backdrop options – so you’re sure to find one that fits your niche perfectly. it’s simply a matter of narrowing down the possibilities.

here’s what you should consider when you’re weighing your product photography background options:

what colors are best for your product

how do you know what color is best for your product? know your audience and your tone. good. now don’t forget it. because it’ll be the recurring theme that’ll get you the scroll-stopping product images that you need.

there are no hard & fast rules about which backgrounds are the best. there’s even a time & place for good ol’ white backgrounds. it ultimately comes down to your brand and your products. what might work for a beauty brand might not work for a fitness apparel brand. and that’s ok!

and remember that it’s more about finding a color that complements your products. you should steer clear of backdrops that’ll steal the show or distract from your products.

when to use natural backgrounds vs. colored backdrops in product photography

knowing when to use colored backdrops vs. natural backgrounds is simply a matter of knowing what mood you’re trying to set. do you want your product to be the star of the show? or would you like a few visual accessories to accompany it?

colored backdrops can create a monochromatic mood or provide a burst of contrast to your products & packaging. or heck – add in some calming neutrals if that’s more your jam. 

natural backgrounds set a scene and can help elevate the image to something more aspirational. it’s kinda like lifestyle photography. they set the stage and help your audience envision what their lives would be like once they purchase your product.

cost to find or use

budget. budget. budget. backdrops range in cost from free ninety-nine up to Kardashian-level investments. that’s why you should always keep your budget in mind when you’re selecting your background.

🚨 spoiler alert 🚨 you don’t need to invest a lot of money to get great product photos. the good news is that you might even be able to use items that are just lying around the house/office. shocking – but true. think: ice. rugs. and even that houseplant that you’ve managed to keep alive

12 creative background ideas for your product photography

there is a virtually endless amount of background possibilities for your product images. understanding which is best for your brand is just the first step.

ready to get started? here are 12 of our favorite creative background ideas for your product photography shoot.

1) vinyl backdrops

vinyl backdrops are one of the most widely-used styles of backgrounds for product (and portrait) photography. you can find different styles of vinyl backgrounds: faux marble. faux wood. solid color. the list goes on!

pros

they’re thick and durable. so they’ll hold up to the test of time. this can be a huge plus if you’re using liquids or heavy items for your product images. any scuffs or spills can easily be cleaned up with a wet rag. they also come in a variety of sizes to suit your needs.

cons

you should make sure you get the right sheen. there are two primary types of finishes you can get: matte and gloss. gloss can add some nice reflective qualities to your product image – but it can also wash it out if you’re not careful.

affordability

vinyl backdrops do require a bit more investment than paper backdrops. but we think they’re worth it. you can use them time and time again without having to worry about wrinkles or damage. the cost per use will decrease dramatically throughout the years that these backdrops will last.

2) foam board

white backgrounds have become the industry standard (thanks largely to Bezos and the Walmart fam). but don’t let that fool you into thinking that white foam board is the only way to go. 

pros

it’s time to zhush things up a little and think outside the (foam board) box with colored and patterned foam board.  you can go wild – or subtle. there’s no end to the creative variations of foam board out there. faux marble? velvet? solid color? check. check. and check.

cons

foam board can be easily damaged. this might not be the ideal backdrop for you if you plan on moving it around from shoot to shoot. it also works better for a smaller product scale. 

affordability

foam board is one of the most affordable backdrop options. so it’s not a burden to replace if it gets damaged – or you want to switch up the look with something new!

3) paper

seamless paper backdrops (a.k.a sweeps) are one of the most common choices on the market. they come in a variety of colors and patterns/textures to fit your brand story.

pros

paper backdrops are great for entry-level and one-time projects. plus – there’s a nearly endless amount of color and pattern options out there. heck. you can even get creative and use old newspapers and magazines as your backdrop.

cons

they’re one of the least durable types of backdrops and will age quickly. slight damages and imperfections might appear as soon as the first use. 

affordability

you get what you pay for with paper backdrops. they’re one of the most affordable backdrop options out there – which is good because you might need to replace them more often as they age.

4) the bokeh technique

the bokeh background technique is a fancy way of blurring out the background to make it less of a focal point. all you need is the right lens to make sure you set your f-stop correctly. this will result in the background being completely blurred.

pros

the bokeh technique is great for when you don’t want to put much effort into getting your background prepped and ready. it blurs the background so much that it becomes inconsequential. you’ll often see jewelry brands use this technique to make the image completely focus on the products.

cons

it can be expensive to get the appropriate camera lens if you don’t already have one. you might also need to focus more on setting appropriate lighting to ensure your image is perfectly exposed.

affordability

this depends on whether or not you’ll need to invest in additional camera lenses to get the job done. if you’ve already got what you need – it’s free. you can expect to spend around $200 – $500 for a new lens.

5) fabric & cloth backdrops

fabric and cloth are also commonly used as photo backdrops. they’re more durable than paper and aren’t as reflective.

pros

easy to store. durable. and they can give more depth to your product images. try folding them. layering them. and playing with different textures. it all comes together to help tell your brand story.

cons

wrinkles. wrinkles. and wrinkles. make sure you bring the steamer because all of those little wrinkles will show up in the final image.

you typically might also have fewer color and pattern options than you might with other backdrops (i.e. foam board)

affordability

fabric and cloth backdrops range from free to pricey – depending on which variety you go for. leathers and laces will cost more than cotton or polyester blends.

6) stone or sand

it’s time that you considered less conventional backdrop options like stone and sand. these natural elements are versatile and easy to handle – which makes them perfect for your next product shoot.

pros

natural backdrops like stone and sand can provide grit and depth to your product photos. 

some of our favorite jewelry product photos use stone and sand backdrops to highlight the luminescence of the products. need inspiration? Cartier used shimmering sand and rugged stones to showcase its Cactus de Cartier necklace.

cons

these backdrops are easy to manage – as long as your products are smaller in size. they become more of a challenge to arrange and contain on a larger scale.  

you can always take your shoot to the beach. but it’s another thing entirely to try to bring the beach into your photoshoot space.

affordability

stone and sand backdrops are easily accessible and budget-friendly. you can find almost any color and texture of sand and stone that you could imagine.

7) foliage

go green! literally AND metaphorically by incorporating plants and verdant foliage into your product photoshoot backdrops. you can finally put those houseplants to good use!

pros

plants bring life to your images and can be a clutch move for environmentally-friendly or eco-conscious products. there’s a wide variety of flora that you can choose from. live plants. dried florals. and even shrubs & trees. the choice is yours. 

listen up beauty brands: you can use plants to emphasize how your organic/vegan/nontoxic products will help your customers get their glow on. just take a page out of the Aveda inspo book. 

cons

some plants are picky about their environment. this is especially true for some cut flowers. planning on shooting for a few days (or weeks)? opt for hardy or artificial plants to keep em looking as fresh on day four as they were on day one.

affordability

foliage runs mid-range when it comes to budget. it’s a good choice if you’ve got a little wiggle room in the budget. you can save money by buying stems or plants in bulk and do the arranging & styling on set.

8) rugs

the very things that provide texture and warmth on cold floors can also serve as the perfect photography backdrops: rugs! 

pros

faux hide. shag. oriental. there’s just something magical about using these textural beauts to capture your images. they create a depth and texture that can’t be replicated by other types of backdrops. they’re also perfect for makeup product photography.

cons

can be a beast to wrangle. they’re not really that flexible and they’re heavy to lug around if your shoots are at different locations. they only come in certain sizes and aren’t very customizable.

affordability

if you’ve already got the rugs you need – great! you’re all in for free. but rugs can be a bit of a splurge if you’re just getting started with this backdrop. you can expect to pay anything from $20 – $5,000 depending on which one you go with.

9) decorative tile

betcha didn’t see this one coming. decorative tile can be your product’s best friend. just head to your local big-box store and you might even score some larger samples for free.

pros

tile can add a whole ‘nother dimension to your images. glossy. satin. matte. and in all sorts of textures and patterns. maybe your brand is more of a simple subway tile. or go bold with an intricately patterned Morrocan mosaic. the sky’s the limit!

cons

tile can be heavy and bulky to work with. it won’t necessarily conform to the shape of your background. tile’s good for flat lays and vertical backdrops but can be cumbersome otherwise.

affordability

you can spend a little – or a lot. the beauty of using tile is that you can tailor your tile choice to fit your budget. tile is an affordable option for small-scale usage. but it can get more expensive as your backdrop size increases.

10) smoke

go on. play a game of smoke and mirrors with your product images. grab a fog machine and let ‘er rip in your shoot space for that magically mysterious effect.

pros

fog machines are super easy to come by. and it doesn’t take much to maintain them or transport them to a new location. plus smoke gives this incredible and inimitable ethereal effect that you won’t get from any other backdrop.

cons

you’ll need to create a “container” or space to keep your fog in around your products. it’s liable to spill out to the rest of the photoshoot space if you don’t corral it a bit.

affordability

moderately priced. but it should last you a lifetime. minimal up-front investment with massive returns on the creative deliverables!

11) wallpaper & wrapping paper

yep. you read that right: wallpaper and wrapping paper. these kinds of backdrops come in a wider variety of options than your standard paper or vinyl backdrops.

pros

they’re incredibly versatile. they come in virtually endless combinations of colors and patterns. and you might even get a little texture thrown in there too. you can go crazy and get custom wallpaper made.

cons

can damage or tear easily. large sections are difficult to wrangle and require extra mounting equipment (i.e. stands and clamps). can be expensive if you go the custom route.

affordability

one cool thing about these types of backdrops is that you can find a wallpaper or wrapping paper backdrop that fits your budget. you don’t need to break the bank – unless you want to go all out.

12) ice

ice. ice. baby. 🧊 this is one of our favorite types of backdrops because it becomes almost unrecognizable with the right lighting and staging. 

pros

you can convey that sense of crispness of ice. don’t be afraid to get creative with it. freeze your products in it or crush it up and make a bed with it. it’ll have a scroll-freezing effect no matter which way you go.

cons

ice melts. quickly. you’ve gotta work fast with ice or have a backup plan if things start to melt a little too quickly. probably wouldn’t work well for an outdoor shoot in the middle of summer.

affordability

got an ice maker in your freezer? you’re all set. bags of ice are fairly inexpensive. or you can splurge on custom-molded ice. there’s even ultra-clear ice if you’re after that crystal vibe.

let soona handle your product photography so you can focus on your business

stone. foliage. vinyl. the world is your oyster when it comes to picking a background for your product images. the key to picking the best one for you is to know your audience. your tone. and what mood your brand is trying to communicate.

still not sure which one is best for your business? let the pros at soona handle the details of your product shoot and get back to the things that keep your business moving forward.

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