Type in Foodgawker.com and look at the pictures. What do you see?
Even just a tiny bit of wood peeking out of the corner gives the photos that earthy, down-home, picnic table vibe. And it’s huge in food photography right now.
I mean, what other background is as non-distracting, but yet adds so much texture and life to the photos?
I’ve been lusting over wooden backgrounds for a year, since I got “serious” about food styling. It finally took a trip to home depot with my boyfriend to actually get these made! And I’m here to show you how I made EIGHT different wood backdrops for under $30!!!
So, first, go to Home Depot. Walk up and down the lumber aisles and debate the different lengths, widths, and grains of all the wood.
Jackpot. Those rustic, splintery, warped boards of wood are perfect for our purposes, and lend a lot of life to photo backgrounds. I picked up two 4-foot planks, which Kevin cut in half. Lay them down, and voila! Two backgrounds.
Two, you say? Flip each board over, and you have a blank canvas.
I also found these awesome linking wood slat things. One side has the groove down the middle, and the other is flatter. I got five 4-foot sections, which Kevin cut in half again. So I got 4 backgrounds out of these!
And each 4-foot section of wood cost me 50 cents. So that’s 28 feet of wood planks for $3.50. Insane, right? You can see the green paint at the edges of the boards in the pictures above, marking it as “reject” board.
Now it’s time for the fun, creative part. I grabbed a few small containers of wood stain, and brought up some old house paint from the basement. Then, armed with brushes, rags, sponges, and sandpaper, I got to work individualizing each background.
And staining my hands in the process.
I’ve never been a neat arts-and-crafts person, which is why I have a whole wardrobe dedicated to my messy projects.
Here is one of the interlocking wood slat boards that I used a grey stain on. I brushed it on, waited five minutes, then wiped it off with a rag. Then I took some sandpaper and ran over with it to emphasize the grain of the wood.
Here is that splintery, warped board. I stained it, wiped it off. Ran a dry sponge with brown paint on it, wiped it off. Ran a dry sponge with grey stain on it in certain places, rubbed it off. I wanted to show off the grain and the knots and the different textures of this piece. The other side I left as is, because it already had some cool paint chipping effects.
1. As is (greyish, weathered. Used in the banana bread pudding post)
2. Painted brown, rubbed off
Splintery Home Depot wood:
3. Painted, stained, stained, sanded
Other side (not pictured) left as is
Interlocking wood slats
4. grey stain
5. green-ish paint
6. black stain (quickly removed and sanded to show grain)
7. White paint
I leaned them all up against the one spare wall in my dining room (it’s amazing how many things you can amass when you pick up a hobby) and I pull them out to do photoshoots.
I threw these plates and napkin onto the pile to see the different moods I could create with the different backgrounds. Moody vs. Romantic vs. Rustic vs. Summer vs. Picnic? This project was a no brainer.
What are your favorite, go-to backgrounds for food photography?