experimenting with back grounds for product photography

This post is brought to you from Melanie of Violet's Buds. Melanie has Bachelors of Science in Photography and provides product photography advice and services to entrepreneurs.

Not all products are created the same, and neither are backdrops for photographing your items. The ever popular go-to for photographing products is a white background, but it can be a very lackluster, dull way to present your items. 

It is important to experiment with various backgrounds to find what works for you - the background can tell just as much of a story as the product itself. Using a great background adds depth of field and can show the product in it's natural environment. 

Recently, GipsonWands photographed this series of his hoop art on a variety of backgrounds and allowed me to use them as an example of how some backgrounds distract from your product, alter the color of your product, or present the product in a not visually pleasing way. 

Plain white felt gives a seamless look. It doesn't distract from the subject, but does not add any personality either.

Two white boards, which creates a seam that may be distracting, especially if it is uneven.

Distressed wood is an interesting background and unique. Depending on your subject matter this backdrop may or may not be flattering.

Like the distressed wood, a hardwood floor backdrop may look nice depending on your subject, as long as it is evenly lit and the product is balanced above the floor.

White board with striped tablecloth creates a seam, and is distracting from the subject. If you use a cloth, its better to make a seamless look.

Patterned fabric is bright and eye-catching, but doesn't necessarily fit with this particular piece. Not only is patterned fabric very busy, but it often doesn't make sense with the subject matter. The main issues with this type of background tends to be fabric is wrinkled, crooked, and not evenly lit.

The standard seamless white background can be a good place to start with product photography, but it is not always the best way to catch your customer's attention. It's plain, lacks personality and blends in with the crowd. If your goal is to make your beautiful products stand out, experiment with various textures, backgrounds, models, props and more. 

Here are a few examples of successful product photos that are unique and flatter the subject.

Mystigail Adornments shoots her hand stamped jewelry on a distressed board with teal accents. Her images are taken at a gentle angle, allowing for depth of field and gentle shadows to highlight the curves of her jewelry.

Lu & Ed uses a fun shutter painted in her brand's colors to post sneak peeks of her Mon-stors. It is bright and memorable, and helps build brand recognition while making her colorful products pop out of the repetitive product-on-white-background images in the search results!   

Remember that no matter the background you decide to go with, certain things like wrinkles, dirt, and stains will always distract from and cheapen the image of your product. Keep experimenting with backgrounds of various textures, depths and elements until you find what works with your products, and remember that product photography is always a work in progress that should evolve with your products!

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  1. Love this!!!! I'll be experimenting tomorrow with product photography. As of right now I'm planning on using a black Viny record for the bottom... just need to figure out background

  2. Hehe, I love what Sugar Crumbs did with hers! I've always done boring white background because I was shooting with a really poor old camera until recently. It's really great to see so many ideas!

  3. As I started reading this, I thought of A Single Dream. Really great photos. I LOVE what Sugar Crumbs has done! That is adorable!

  4. Great post and great examples!