There are certain stores that I can walk into leave with a full shopping cart and wonder, "Where did the last hour and a half go?" This is what happens when I make a trip to my local hardware store. If you are interested in photographing still life, food, or any other table top project, the hardware store is full of inspiration. Let me show an aisle that is filled with amazing ready to go backgrounds.
I'm not sure what the hardware stores are like outside of the United States, but any Lowe's Home Improvement or Home Depot you will have an aisle or two that looks like this.
Above you can see box after box of stone and ceramic tile. Think these are only for your weekend home improvement project? Think again. You are looking at a huge variety of potential backgrounds! Here is the best part. They are cheap! When you are planning on redoing a room, it's a good idea to purchase a few single tiles to see how they will look with your existing kitchen cabinets or bathroom fixtures. Home improvement stores will sell you single piece of tile for anywhere from around a dollar to seven dollars a piece. The price will depend on the size and material that the tile is made of. These single tiles make for great backgrounds! Here is a look at a tile in use.
The tiling aisle is filled with a wide variety of tiles available for you to choose from! Here are a few examples of stone and tile backgrounds that I use on a consistent basis.
Here are a few pointers that will help you select the right tile.
- I recommend tiles that are 18"x18" or larger. These will provide a large enough shooting areas for most single plate shots. If you want to place several tiles together to make a larger surface, you can usually remove the seem edge in photoshop.
- Tiles will have either a glossy or matte surface to them. I have found that the matte surfaces are easiest to work with and yield the best results.
- When using tiles keep in mind that some can be heavy and require a stable surface to put them on.If you can't find the tiles that you are looking for at the hardware store, you can make a trip to a specialty tile and flooring store, they sell sample sizes as well.
If you are looking for more background options for your food and tabletop photography, Issue 7 of photographing FOOD is all about backgrounds! You can buy issues 1-8 in the Fstoppers store.