Sourcing Backgrounds for Food Photography

Sourcing Backgrounds for Food Photography

When I started food photography I was in awe of the beautiful backdrops. It took me a good 6 months to work out where to get them from.

Food photography is a complicated world. Between home economists, food stylists, prop houses, retouchers, and photographers, there is a lot going on. One of the biggest issues I found when getting started was working out what I should photograph my food on. I would look at Waitrose magazine completely dumbfounded as to how they made their beautiful backdrops. Slowly, I plucked up the courage to ask a few people and to my surprise they were very forthcoming with their information. As a disclaimer, I am not paid by, nor am I given any free backdrops from any of the people listed below. They are just my current preferred suppliers. These are the three options that I regally use for food photography backdrops/backgrounds. I am going to start with the most expensive and inconvenient, and then work my way down. 

Reclaimed Wood Merchant

If you do a quick Google in your area for a reclaimed wood merchant, you will almost certainly find one. There are at least three in Leicester where I live. I recently had a delivery that gave me a beautiful wooden table. The wood has a great look to it, its sturdy and reasonably high quality. The downside is that it is heavy, long, and therefore a pain to store. I have a corner of my studio that just has wooden planks resting up against it. It does, however, offer a natural and very high end look to the images.

Handmade Backdrops

These are one-off hand made pieces. The joys of this are that they store well, are different to everyone else and are designed by someone who knows what they are talking about. You can call up the guys at Woodrow and discuss your needs and they will make you a beautiful one-off board specifically for your needs. I am not sure if they ship world wide, but if you are in the UK it is certainly worth checking these guys out for high end unique pieces. Their backdrops have been used in major campaigns, for high end editorials all over the UK. 

Paper Rolls

I am not talking about your Colorama rolls. These are prints of backdrops similar to the hand made ones. The major pros to these are the very affordable prices, easy to store, and look really good. I use Blackvelvetstyling for these. I haven’t used anyone else for these yet, but it’s certainly something I am going to look to stock in as many designs as possible in my studio. For the price and really easy storage option, these are great. The shot below was taken with them and I would say that it still looks pretty high end. 

What do you all use for your food or sell life photography backdrops?

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Richard Bradbury's picture

Thanks for the info Scott.

I am looking to arrange a couple of styled food and product shoots myself to see if it's something I want to pursue.

The Black Velvet Styling backdrops look like the perfect investment for the test shoots with out breaking the bank.

Johnny Rico's picture

Closest reclaimed wood place to me is 200 miles away. Never thought to search for that term though. How are you putting it together? are you making them 2 sided or have cross supports underneath

Scott Choucino's picture

I leave them as individual slats and then just line them up when needed

Deleted Account's picture

Excellent use of materials available.

Paul Broomfield's picture

I make our backdrops - fake wooden table tops are pretty easy. The hardware store will sell tongue and groove floor boards, I buy a few of those and cut them so I get a 1x1meter table top when glued together. Then paint or stain for the correct colour. I dont make legs, usually just rest the table top on a bunch of milk crates.

Scott Choucino's picture

We have literally just got onto the tongue and grove boards. So light and easy to transport!