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What's the Best Photography Backdrop? Compare 5 Top Brands

Photography backdrops are the basis for any great shot. A good backdrop will anchor your shot and serves as the essential starting point for the tone and style you want to create. 

Whether you're a food photographer shooting a recipe, a product, or doing a collaboration or sponsorship for a brand, you want your subject to stand out and pop. Same goes for beauty, fashion, and travel bloggers... the "hero" in your shot needs to stand out and you need the perfect setting to tell your story. 

Backdrops come in all sizes, shapes, colors, surfaces, weights, and prices. Here's a breakdown of the essential elements you need to consider when purchasing a backdrop and building your collection:

What is the best surface for a photography backdrop?

The first consideration is choosing a backdrop that's non-glare. Whether you're shooting in a studio or using natural light, you don't want a surface which will create shadows you didn't intend. Some vinyl backdrops unfortunately often have some shine and they may also wrinkle. The best surface is one that's:

  • Sturdy
  • Non-glare
  • Waterproof
  • Stain resistant
  • DURABLE

Since you will be using your photography backdrop over and over again, it is best to use a backdrop that's virtually indestructible. 

What material is best for photography backdrops?

Whether you're a food stylist, food photographer, or a beauty blogger shooting makeup, you should look for backdrops which are not only durable, but also waterproof and stain resistant.

There's nothing worse than spilling water on a wood backdrop and seeing the spots and rings it leaves. Or spilling red wine. We know how that story ends.

As far as being stain resistant, if you want to get on with shooting and not worry about cleaning up a "smooshed" raspberry, a cherry-pie filling stain, or if you're a beauty blogger -- lipstick. Try getting getting any of these stains out of a wood backdrop isn't easy.

So, what material is best?

Wood:  

While wood backdrops are popular because they have gorgeous texture, they are HEAVY! They are also a pain to store. And while many brands have a sealer, they may not be stain resistant and fully waterproof. Brands: Soularty, Woodville, Erickson Surfaces.

Vinyl:

Vinyl surfaces are waterproof but they can crease, wrinkle, and some have glare. Vinyl is typically lightweight and easy to store. Depending on the way it is treated, some vinyl backdrops may not be stain proof. 

Plastic:

This material is rigid, 100% waterproof, non-glare, stain resistant, and lightweight. It is easy to store, lays flat, and doesn't lose its shape -- ever. Brands: Best Ever Backdrops.

Foam Core

They are really inexpensive -- that's the good news. But like with anything, you get what you pay for. If you're shooting food or beauty products and something spills, they're ruined. So is your shot.

What is the best color photography backgrounds?

The best colors are cool and neutral colors that enhance the colors of your subject. Greys and whites are always good or at the other end of the spectrum, dark and rich blues and blacks. In the middle? There's always bright, bold colors from yellows and pinks to make your shots pop.

What is the best texture for a photography backdrop?

There are a variety of different options: natural textures from wood to concrete or cement are the perfect textures because of their natural grain and color. Stone textures such as marble and granite are also ideal. And with the right backdrop, you can create the perfect Instagram "kitchen."

What size photography backdrop do I need?

Size matters. Especially when shooting food. A rectangle is ideal. 24 x 36" at a minimum. Some backdrops are small squares and that doesn't give you the space you need to create a table setting shot or enough room to create a smart layout. For social media posts, whether it's for Pinterest, a magazine layout, or for an Instagram story, using a rectangle backdrop for the ratio makes your job a whole lot easier from the get-go.

Should I create my own photography backdrops?

DIY

It's easy to make them... and can be a fun creative outlet, but the time and effort you spend driving to the lumber yard or local hardware store to select a surface, have it cut, spend money on purchasing a variety of paints and tools... brushes, putty knives, etc. to create the look you want, create it, wait for it to dry -- is time consuming. If you choose a wood surface, they are still heavy and a pain to store. They are also not stain and water resistant... unless you treat them. 

Here's a look at 5 brands of photography backdrops for comparison. You decide what works best for your needs:

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