Unique Photo Backdrop Ideas: Top 10 Picks

You never want your subject to fade into the background. You need them to stand out. There are some traditional methods that allow the background to fade away and let your subject be the focus. But anything too traditional can get boring very fast. You want to exercise your artistic muscles. You don’t want your subject to just be the focus, you want them to shine.

The Power of a Perfect Photo Backdrop

If you are new to the photo backdrop arena, you need to know their value before you mess with them. They are often used for portraits, but they can be used for a variety of reasons. And, using them correctly will really make your photos pop. You can use simple or textured, expensive or cheap, indoor or outdoor backdrops, it’s all up to you. If you choose right, you can bring out the personality of your subject without saying a word. Which, you can’t do in a photo anyway.

You need to be careful though, a cluttered background will draw attention away from your subject. Perspective can play a big role with backgrounds too. You will be surprised at how different everything can look when you squat closer to the ground or go off center. You can also use light to make your subject pop. Photography is nothing without light. Using the right light, you can create contrast that will subtly diminish an attention-grabbing background.

Everything You Need to Know About a Photo Backdrop 

To have a photo backdrop work correctly, you need to know all about it. Like, for example, subjects should be at least 3 feet away from the backdrop. This will prevent shadows and make lighting easier.

Backdrop Sizes

There are different sizes of backdrops that will work better than others depending on what you are photographing. A 3.5-foot-wide backdrop is good for babies, pets, and small objects. 3.5-foot-long backdrops are good for headshots. Though they are too short for a full body portrait, 5 or 6-foot-wide backdrops are good for headshots and ¾ length portraits. Use a 6- or 7-foot-long backdrop for full portraits and family portraits. There are even bigger sizes, but you get the idea.

How to Mount Them

There are different ways to set these backdrops up. There are both professional and DIY ways. The simplest way is to simply hang it up using wall hooks. There is also the traditional backdrop support system that most photography studios use. It’s made of a 3-section cross bar and two light stands.

Traditional Backdrop Materials

You can really use anything as a photo backdrop. For example: You can use polyester fabric with embossed velour. It doesn’t wrinkle and creates a lot of interest. Solid colored ones are usually made with a wrinkle-resistant cotton-polymer blend. It’s great because it’s machine washable and very easy to store.

There is also hand painted muslin that lets you completely customize it. Muslin is heavy duty and can definitely take a beating.
Finally, there are paper backdrops that are good for quick and cheap photo shoots.

10 Unique Photo Backdrop Ideas

You can get really creative when it comes to backdrops. Some are simple and others are more intricate. This list should inspire you to create some unique backdrops of your own:

1. Use Your Colors Creatively


Color is important to photography in general, but you can use it to create some highly dynamic images. For example, warm colors visually advance, while cooler ones recede.

If you put a subject with warm colors against a cool colored background, it will look very dynamic. It can even make it seem like it’s popping out of the picture to the viewer.

2. Dried Flowers

Dried Flowers

While most people think that fresh flowers are the only kind that should be used in photos, dried ones can create an interesting image. It’s also a relatively easy background to create. All you need to do is get some dried flowers and then tape them on the backdrop. You can do it in bits and pieces, that way you can put them in the most interesting way possible. 

You can even use branches, leaves, and grass. If you don’t like that idea, you can always try paper flowers. Also, if you don’t like tape, you can use string – or any other objects you can get to stick to the background fabric or paper. Just make sure the string matches the background. Then it looks like they are floating.

3. Curtains


These can be really fun to use. You can hunt through thrift stores and look for cool looking curtains.

You can pick a bunch of different patterns and use them depending on your mood. Best part of all, they’re reusable.

4. Your Own Art


Why not add art to your art? If you like to dabble in painting or other art forms, use it to your advantage.

Even if you don’t paint regularly, you can still do it. Make some creative patterns, use interesting lines, and different textures.

You can always ask some painter friends to help too.

5. Streamers


This is a fun and festive idea. This would be especially good for any birthday themed shoots. This is cheap and fairly easy to do.

All you need are some streamers, masking tape, and scissors. It should only take around a half an hour to accomplish this project.

Once you know the dimensions of the shoot, you can start taping them at the highest level and let them fall down. Then cut the bottoms so they are square.

Overlap the streamers for a little more visual interest. Then tape down the bottom, so it doesn’t blow away mid-shot.

6. Yarn


Yarn can be so much more than for just knitting. You can create some interesting designs with the individual strings.

You can make patterns with them and have a cool texture in the background. Grab some yarn in various sizes, scissors, glue, and a wooden rod. All you have to do is glue the yarn onto the rod in whatever way you want. Then you cut it in interesting ways and you’re done.

7. Tissue Paper

Tissue Paper

This is a very versatile material. You can fold it, scrunch it, and overlay it. You can also create some beautiful murals that will serve as your photo backdrop. Plus, it’s pretty cheap.

You will just need tissue paper, chicken wire, scissors, wire cutters, and zip ties. However, this project is time consuming, it may take around 3 hours. Here’s a great tutorial showing you what to do.

8. Wrapping Paper

Wrapping Paper

That’s right, wrapping paper. Take some patterned wrapping paper and use it as a backdrop.

All you need is some wrapping paper, string, and a curtain rod. What you do is poke a hole in the cardboard roll and put string through it. Then tie the string to the curtain rod.

Then you can just pull and get whatever amount of paper you need. Easy right?

9. Doilies


These aren’t just for your grandmother’s table. You can use cloth, paper, or plastic ones as a background.

Though paper and plastic doilies are going to be less expensive.

You can also overlap the dollies to get interesting colors and textures.

10. Tinsel


Grab some tinsel on clearance after the holidays and use them as a backdrop.

All you need is the tinsel, a pole, twine, and thin wire. 

You cut the tinsel in equal lengths, wrap them around the wire so it attaches the tinsel to the pole, and then use the twine so that it can hang on the wall. Then you’re done. 

It’s a Whole New World of Backdrops

The limit of what kind of photo backdrops you can create is all up to you. What do you think your imagination is capable of? Don’t be afraid to experiment with other ideas than the ones listed here. Do some Googling, play around, have fun. Even it doesn’t work out, you learn every time you try something new. 

You can create such unique backdrops that you become well known for it. You could even get more business because of it.

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