As you may already know, white is the preferred background color for product photography, but not everyone’s studio is set up with a pop-up softbox for quick packshots. If you can’t access a professional photography studio, it’s beneficial to know how to recreate that setup in your home.
You won’t necessarily have the same type of studio space at home that you would in a studio designed for photography. Many freelance product photographers use a spare bedroom as a makeshift studio, but even if you don’t have an extra room to use, you can still create a setup that will produce professional-looking images.
You can achieve a seamless look in your product images by creating your own DIY white photography background in the comfort of your home.
One of the most basic ways to create a DIY white background is with a simple sheet of paper or bed sheet. The type and size of the material can vary based on your needs, such as the size of the products you need to photograph.
To create your own DIY white photo backdrop for product photography, you will need:
- Pure white paper or fabric
- A flat surface
- A flat wall, a stack of books, or a light stand
- Painter’s tape and/or clamps
Obviously the size of your product will dictate whether you use paper or fabric for the shot, and you may even decide to build your own product photography tent if you have a lot of products to shoot.
Knowing how to create your own white background can save you unnecessary expenses on shooting time in a local studio. Below you’ll find ideas on how to create your DIY white photo backdrop on the cheap, and you’ll be ready to shoot in no time.
Choosing the Right Materials for a DIY White Photo Backdrop
Before deciding on which materials to use for your background, it’s helpful to know more about each type of material and how they will photograph. For example, if you choose to use fabric but don’t take care of the wrinkles, you’ll have a difficult time in post processing.
Some of the material options for your DIY white background are:
- Printer paper
- Construction paper
- Roll of seamless background paper
- Acrylic sheet (Perspex sheet)
- Bedsheet (or other fabric)
All of these have different tones and shades of white, and regardless of the type of material you choose, you must choose a material that is pure white since off-white will be noticeable and won’t offer the same effect as a true white.
Also, an off-white background won’t match the rest of the white backgrounds in the other images on platforms like Amazon, so more post processing will be needed to correct your image.
Your white background needs to be consistent across a variety of online marketplaces, so regardless of your choice of material, it must be pure white.
What to Look for in DIY White Background Materials
When opting for a DIY photography background, there are several other things to consider in addition to ensuring you are using material that is true white.
Do you only have one product? Are you taking photos with your smartphone or a DSLR? Your situation will dictate what kind of material you invest in.
Some of the materials you can consider are:
- Printer paper – The weight of the paper matters because you don’t want a paper that is so thin that you see through it easily. If your paper is to thin, the colors of whatever is behind the paper may come through in your photo and darken your white backdrop. You may want to opt for a medium or heavy weight paper. Check out this paper weight guide for examples of different types of paper weight.
- Construction paper – Beware of any textured construction paper, since you’ll want a smooth, solid white background. Sometimes the texture of the paper will cast shadows that will make it difficult to edit out in post.
- Cardstock and posterboard – These are thicker than printer paper so you won’t have to worry about any bleed-through of colors behind it. However, just make sure that your paper isn’t so thick that it is not flexible enough to drape on your surface without getting bent or creased.
- Acrylic sheet – These are not actually paper, but a type of plastic and are a popular option for a reflective surface. These are one of the sturdiest options for a product photography background but they do require more care than paper. Take a look at some tips for cleaning acrylic sheeting to see what’s involved.
- Roll of seamless background paper– This is a great option if you have larger products that won’t fit on any of the previous paper choices. Also, if the paper gets dirty, wrinkled, or ripped, you can just cut that section off and roll out more paper. One thing to keep in mind if you’re shooting multiple products for a photoshoot, you may want to stick with the same brand of paper to ensure consistency of the appearance of your white background.
- Bedsheet (or Muslin) – The main thing to keep in mind when using fabric for a DIY white photo backdrop is that you don’t want any visible wrinkles as they will cast shadows. You’ll need to either iron the fabric before hanging it up or steam it after the fabric is secured to a light stand or wall.
Making the Background for a Product Picture
Depending on your materials of choice and the size of your product, you’ll have several ways in which to set up your DIY white photo backdrop. In this section, we’ll go over an example setup using paper, with and without a wall, and using fabric.
White Background Setup with Paper (Using a Wall)
The easiest way to create a white background is with just some paper and a wall. Here’s how to do it:
- Push a flat surface, like a table, up against a wall. You could also use a kitchen counter with clear wall space behind it. You don’t want anything on the wall that will interfere with adhering your paper to it, such as pictures or even textured walls and backdrops.
- Using an appropriately-sized sheet of white paper, place the end of your paper as high up on the wall as you need to ensure that the only background showing in your images is the white paper. Secure the paper on the wall with painter’s tape.
- Use painter’s tape to secure the other end of the paper to your table or counter. You can control the curve on your backdrop by sliding the other end of the paper closer or farther away from the wall. If your paper is long enough to reach the edge of the table or counter, you can also use clamps to secure the paper.
- Your DIY white photo backdrop is ready to go!
White Background Setup with Paper (No Wall)
If for some reason you can’t use the first method, you can also use a stack of books or some other surface to complete the look:
- Place a stack of books on a flat surface. This could be a table in your dining room, a kitchen counter, a coffee table, or whatever flat surface available to you.
- Using an appropriately-sized sheet of white paper, lay one end of the paper over the top of the stack of books.
- Use tape to secure the sheet of paper to the top of the stack of books. Alternatively, choose something heavy, like a paperweight, and place it on top of the paper to keep it held in place on the stack of books. Your paper should then drape down onto your flat surface.
- You can adjust the angle of the curve by changing the height of your stack of books. Just add or take away books as needed.
- You’re ready to start photographing!
White Product Photography Background Setup with Fabric
Sometimes paper might provide the wrong look, or you just might not have a properly sized piece of paper on hand.
If that’s the case, you can use a white tablecloth or bedsheet like so:
- Set up a light stand and drape a white bedsheet over it. If you don’t have a light stand, you can tape the bedsheet to a wall or drape it over some chairs.
- Secure the fabric to using painter’s tape or clamps.
- Arrange your fabric to achieve the seamless curvature you desire.
- Place your product on your DIY white backdrop, and shoot away!
Those are just a few examples of how to create a DIY white photo backdrop using several different materials that are readily available in most households.
It really is that easy.
However, different materials can have dramatically different look depending on your lighting. To help you decide which option would work best for you, let’s go over some of your choices in more detail.
Photographing Small Products with a Paper DIY Backdrop at Home
When you’re photographing small items, you’ll be able to manage with a smaller sheet of paper, like your basic 8.5” x 11” sheet of printer paper.
Setting up a DIY white background at home for product photography of small objects is as simple as grabbing a sheet of printer paper, a stack of books, and some tape.
No fancy materials needed for this one! Just use one of the techniques we’ve outlined above, then:
- Place the product in the proper spot.
- Adjust your shoot settings. Make sure to account for the somewhat “glossed” appearance of most printer papers. It isn’t as pronounced as actual gloss paper, but new, clean paper can bounce light in strange ways. Take a few minutes to dial in your equipment.
- If you’re working with a large volume of products, ensure an even tone across the white backdrop. This makes it easy to fix any issues with the paper backdrop later since you can essentially clone the backdrop to cover problem spots, such as creases you didn’t notice at first.
This method is probably the easiest and fastest way to set up a DIY photo backdrop. You could also use this same procedure with any of the other paper options mentioned in this article.
Tip: It can help to make a small mark on the paper on the exact spot you place your object. This is useful when you’re photographing multiple objects in one shoot to ensure that each is on the exact same spot for consistency in your product images.
Product Photography Backgrounds with Acrylic Sheets at Home
When using an acrylic sheet for your product photography background, the technique will be slightly different. Since the material is less flexible than a sheet of paper, you may not want to try the book method. A counter or table pushed up against a wall may be a better option.
- Check the acrylic sheet for any spots or marks before using. Clean if needed.
- Use painter’s tape to secure one end of the sheet to the wall.
- Drape the sheet down onto the table or counter. Secure the end of the sheet with clamps or painter’s tape.
- Place your product onto the acrylic sheet.
Photographing Larger Objects with a DIY Backdrop at Home
Sometimes a sheet of printer paper just won’t do the job. This is the case if you are photographing a larger item such as an article of clothing. There are a few options for photographing larger products at home with a DIY white photo backdrop.
If your product is on the larger side, one great option for a DIY white background is a large roll of white seamless background paper. You can find them in rolls as large as 107″ x 36′. This should cover you for just about any product photography that you’ll be doing at home.
- Use painter’s tape to attach the end of the paper roll to the wall. This prevents sticky tape marks or damage to your paint.
- Allow the roll to drape from the wall onto the floor. Again, use painter’s tape to secure the paper to the floor.
- Place your product on top of the paper on the floor.
Another excellent option for a white product photography backdrop at home is a white bedsheet. You can use it over and over as long as you keep it clean and iron or steam it before photo shoots. Because they can be used repeatedly, bedsheets are also one of the most cost effective photo backdrop materials.
Many product photographers use muslin backdrops for their backgrounds, which can start at just under $15 on Amazon.
- It’s important to remove wrinkles and creases from the bed sheet before using so be sure to iron it or steam it. If you don’t have access to an iron or steamer (or don’t have time), you could also do some editing post-production to bump up the white in your image to alleviate the appearance of those wrinkles or creases.
- If you have a light stand, you can drape the bedsheet over the top and secure it with clamps or tape. If you don’t have a light stand, you could simply use painter’s tape to tape the sheet to the wall but be careful that it is well secured to the wall or your backdrop could collapse before your photo shoot is complete.
- Drape the sheet onto the floor and arrange it so that it lays nice and flat.
- Place your product on top of the sheet on the floor.
Be careful to secure your DIY white backdrop so that it doesn’t shift at all before you are finished with your photoshoot.
Any difference in the positioning of your white backgrounds can affect the consistency of your photos. You could always try to get it to match as best as you can, but that’s just going to take more time and effort then securing your background in the first place.
DIY White Photo Backdrops: Quick, Cheap, and Easy
For a fraction of the price of renting a professional photography studio or purchasing fancy equipment or supplies, you can create a DIY white photo background in your home for all your product photography needs.
Using basic household items such as paper, bedsheets, books, and tape, you’ll have your own product photography studio set up in your home in no time.
However, if you plan on shooting a lot of products, it may be worth investing in a pop-up product photography tent to make your life easier, or you can make your own out of the same materials mentioned here.