If you’re new to blogging and/or photography, I’ve got a secret for you: the surfaces I shoot on are usually not really tables. Creating photo backgrounds allows you to easily shoot wherever you get the best light and also helps add variety to your photos. While you can purchase pre-made photo backgrounds, I prefer to create my own because it’s more fun and less expensive.
I’ve painted backgrounds, stained them, stained and then painted/distressed them, I’ve had backgrounds rained on during the process (which actually created a cool effect), and I’ve taken backgrounds apart and re-built them.
Basically if you know how to use a power drill (or have someone who can help you) and are fairly crafty, you can easily create some cool looking backgrounds and experiment along the way, and if you’re not happy with how they come out, you can reassemble them or paint over them as needed. You can also use pretty much any wood you have access to, and sometimes old free wood from palettes etc. can look the best/most authentic.
In the past I’ve made some singled sided photo backgrounds (with the planks to hold it together in the middle rather than on the edges), but I later realized it would be better to change the construction a bit so they could be double sided to get the most out of the wood used.
I considered making this post a tutorial, but to be honest I don’t know the proper way to build things or feel qualified to explain how-to in detail, so instead I’ll just show y’all how Lucas and I made one of my recent backgrounds, a double sided wooden background with dark grey paint on one side and a dark wood stain on the other, in case you want some inspiration or ideas. The size and style of the background you need will obviously depend on what you’re photographing and your desired aesthetic.
Here are the supplies and tools we used:
Wood planks (I used .75″ x 7.25″ x 6 ft boards from Home Depot that I had them cut in half to make 3 ft boards.)
Thin wood planks (I used some leftover wood we had lying around.)
Screws (I used 1.5″–they need to be long enough to screw through the thickness of your large wood planks as well as partially through the thin planks.)
Paint and/or wood stain
Rag for stain
To assemble the background, we lined up the large planks and screwed the thin planks to the edges of the larger planks (as pictured), using 2 screws per large plank. We cut our thin planks down to the proper length with a hand saw after screwing them on, but it would probably be better to do that first. If you’re staining one side, make sure any markings on the wood are on the same side before assembling, so you can paint that side/won’t see them through the stain (we forgot to do this & had to unscrew/redo it–oops!)
Next we painted one side of the background with a dark grey paint/primer combo (interior flat Olympic Assure from Lowe’s)–we did three layers, waiting at least an hour between each layer.
After that side had fully dried overnight, we followed the instructions that came with the wood stain (dark walnut from Home Depot), using an old rag to apply the stain (while wearing gloves). The stain didn’t come out super dark after one layer, and I decided I liked how it looks enough for now, but I may add another layer of stain at some point to change it up. If for some reason you don’t like the look of the stain, you can always add another layer, paint over it, or paint over it and then distress it so that part of the wood stain shows through (like in this tutorial.)
We also didn’t bother with any sanding or additional distressing, but that’s always an option too depending on the look you’re going for.
Here’s what ours looked like once it was done:
And here’s what the grey side looks like in photos:
And the stained side:
Another thing to consider when making double sided backgrounds is that one side will be in contact with the floor or whatever surface you have it on and could potentially get scratched up. For this background that didn’t really matter to me since the the side that will be in contact with the floor is the rougher looking stained side, but if you’re worried about it, you could consider adding thin planks to both sides of the background to prevent that from happening.
Have you tried making your own photo backgrounds? How did it go? Let me know in the comments!