5 fail-safe photography backdrops that are perfect for beginners

5 fail-safe photography backdrops that are perfect for beginners

October 01, 2020

Hi there!

As you probably know we have loads of photography backdrop options for you, lots of designs that can work for many different styles depending on your aims for a piece of content and most importantly the story you're trying to tell to connect with your audience.

It would be easy to tell you what our best sellers are but they're not necessarily what's best for a beginner.  We sell to a massive mix of clients ranging from top experts of the food photography industry to global creative agencies. magazine and cookbook publishers, as well as home makers, recipe bloggers and crafters - everyones' needs are unique and everybody's skill level and experience will be different.  

At the start of your content creation journey - whether that starts as a newly trained photographer, social marketer, maker or crafter - your priorities and budget will be very different to that of a seasoned content creator or somebody with an established prop collection. 


As a content creator your photography backdrops will need to help you establish yourself (or your biz) as a relevant and aspirational brand.

But what if you're not sure what style to go with or are worried about committing to a certain look too soon?

What if you have limited photography experience or lighting kit?


As a new photographer or to move into specialising in food or still life photography you may need to produce a portfolio of work.  It's important to show potential clients that you have a carefully curated prop collection and can shoot for many different styles.

But what if you are just beginning your prop collection and don't know where to start?

How will you decide what backdrops to invest in?


That's exactly what I want to share with you today, five photography backdrops that -

    • are absolutely timeless,

    • will give you the perfect foundation for a strong prop collection,

    • work best for those with limited lighting experience OR content creators who shoot and edit on their phone.


5 photography backdrops perfect for  beginners in photography and content creation

My Number 1 photo backdrop for beginners has to be - Earl


We have to kick off with a grey as it will NEVER go out of style. 

Earl is a favourite of mine and he's a favourite with our customers too - so he is in fact a best seller - but that's because he genuinely ticks all of the points above and the pros know that!

Earl is a kick ass photography backdrop for beginners because -

  • grey is timeless as everything looks good on it,
    • it makes the colours in your product or food pop
    • its not seasonal
    • it can't offend anybody - who has a strong reaction to grey?
  • as a mid strength, unsaturated tone - not too light, not too dark - Earl is easy peasy to shoot and edit
  • the texture is a classic hand painted/plastered effect synonymous with quality content - it can quickly take a beginners content or food styling and make it look pro. 

The fact that Earl is a best seller and is used by so many pros means it is recognisable and your content game will be raised a level purely by people remembering a look they've seen before, and now associating you with the same quality. Nobody needs to know that it only cost you £20!

Its also detailed but subtle enough to take small products, crafts and jewellery without overpowering your hero.

AND! Being grey (colourless) you can edit quite severely without effecting the backdrop - good if you shoot in low light, on an iphone or just enjoy strong edits.

A fantastic all rounder! Earl is available in standard A1 at £20 and large A0 at £42.



My 2nd photography backdrop recommendation for beginners is - Salt


Another non-colour backdrop for the same reasons - its timeless and will go with anything, everyone needs a light, white-ish backdrop in their prop collection; especially if you're a food photographer and definitely if you make sweets and baked goods which always look beautiful on white.

Salt works for food, product and still life as it has a soft, subtle texture that doesn't take you in any strong direction towards urban or twee, modern or vintage etc - it's just a reliable, neutral surface with some soft detail and interest that shows that it is a considered choice.

Again it is easy to light as it won't give any glare but you will need to be careful of it looking warm or cold depending on your lighting or time of day that you shoot (light gets bluer as the day gets older).  This is easily edited by adjusting with the 'warmth' tool.

Salt is available in standard A1 at £18.



For our 3rd choice we have to include a wooden backdrop - Boston


Bringing a bit more warmth and personality than the first recommendations, a wooden backdrop is still a safe bet for lots of commercial photography briefs.

Wood brings an organic element and the soft character of natural imperfections and variation, still without pigeon holing us into a specific style or direction.  The Plank backdrop can be styled modern or eclectic, bright or moody and edited cooler or warmer depending on the season or story.

As we are getting a little bit darker with this backdrop you may find that you need to consider your lighting more or use a vignette to counteract a bit of glare.  You can also play around with the texture or structure settings to get more detail from the wood grain.

We have lots of wood choices in our photography backdrop range - Beaten and Potters Shelf are both good choices too - but I have chosen Boston to include in my recommendations for beginners as it is less specific; just a classic, warm, characterful wood which will fit the most briefs in your early days of content creation.




My 4th backdrop recommendation for you is a moody dark grey - Trig

OK so we're getting a little bit more daring here, but you will need to have a dark option up your sleeve for anything cosy in the autumn or twinkly at Christmas! 

Plus dark images can really pack a punch on social and its a really easy edit on Instagram to knock off the highlights and add a vignette for that moody-foody look.

The Trig backdrop is a steely dark grey with lovely mottling and metal patina that can be bought out as much or as little as you wish with the texture and structure editing tools. 

Your lighting will need to be very soft or diffused (tracing paper or thin white fabric over windows) and you may even block the light from hitting the surface with some black card, but if you get it right with some simple adjustments, dark backdrops can be your best friend!

The Trig backdrop is available in A1 vinyl here.



With these first 4 backdrop suggestions you would have a seriously good base for your prop collection; four classic neutrals that can work in lots of different scenarios and are easy to edit. 

But let's add some colour in!



For my final recommendation, it has to be a light blue and I'm going to go with my favourite cool, greeny blue - Whip


Almost a neutral, blue is probably the most used colour in photography after greys and natural tones.  I'm choosing this light turquoise/aqua blue because i think it flatters food - especially cakes and bakes - but also works with crafts and jewellery - gold looks great against it!

The Whip backdrop is a really soft, 'whipped' hand painted effect, very light and airy so it doesn't steal the lime light. It's perhaps more spring/summer than autumn/winter but its important to have a few fresher options when we turn the corner from Christmas content so i think it's a great backdrop to have in your collection.

Again it is easy to light and won't give any glare so it's perfect if shooting on your phone for quick content creation.

If you're building a prop collection at the same time and have followed my advice in the Props. What and where to buy course you'll have lots of white, greys and neutrals which will sit nicely on this soft colour!

The Whip photography backdrop is available in paper and vinyl.


And thats my top 5 backdrops for beginners, I think this should give you a really solid starting point to develop your style, build a portfolio or start your brands content!

If you're just starting out with your brand or small business content you might want to check out my content creation courses too - I can walk you through developing a brand style and creating a signature look to sourcing props, styling your product or food and DIY photography at home or where you work.


I hope this has been helpful for you, please feel free to get in touch with any questions, happy to help!


Happy styling,



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