You can take those awesome holiday photos without spending hundreds of dollars on photo backdrops. Save your money – it should be spent on cameras, since those would be much harder to make at home. And have some fun creating your own backdrops!

You can easily make them, even if you’ve never made a thing in your life. You won’t be needing a whole lot of gear to do it. Just use some items that may be sitting in your garage. Or find them in your local craft store for a dozen bucks – it’s quite a bargain considering that professional, ready-made backdrops cost hundreds of dollars!

It’s like having a home-made photo booth that you can customize and reuse hundreds of times over!

Just a quick tip before we dig in: whichever backdrop option you choose, it will need the brightest spot in your house, with lots of natural light coming in. Check out these seven simple scenarios you can make right now!


1. The Easiest Scenario – All You Need Is a Poster Board

Are you into food photography? Your case is one of the simplest! All you need is a long poster board, and you won’t even have to glue or nail it to the wall – some duct tape will do the trick! Actually, you won’t even need a wall, since your objects are small enough to fit on a table. Choose poster board in white or another color, depending on your subject. Here’s how The Pieper Life does it.

“I love white walls because white reflects the light and is a great backdrop for art.” – John Rocha


2. Make a Backdrop Using Paper, Staples and Duct Tape

Grab a bunch of colorful paper sheets and have fun all day! All you need to do is fold the sheets into little fans, staple them together into rosettes, and attach them to the wall. This is a great option since it allows you to combine different colors for different projects – but we don’t recommend using more than three colors at a time. A great idea for kids’ birthday parties! Check out the details here.

Note that you can also make a simpler and more elegant version of this backdrop with crepe paper ribbons and some painter’s tape. Just make a frame from the painter’s tape by attaching it to the wall so the sticky side is out. Then, attach the colorful crepe ribbons so they would hang down, while making sure they overlap. Or you can attach them horizontally – play around and see which way works best for you.

“Photography was a way for me to freeze time and to capture the moments that were happy and healthy. I saw a photo as a way to go back to a memory if I ever needed to.” – Rachel Morrison

Improvisation opportunities are endless. Is your family member a passionate knitter? Borrow a few skeins of yarn, cut it into strings and attach the strings to the wall so they would hang down. Once they are in place, you can trim them to different lengths and form various shapes – just like performing a haircut. You’ll be surprised with the end result!


3. Get Some Pipes and Fabric

You can create a frame from PVC pipes that you can later disassemble and put away. You will need regular pipes as well as end caps, elbow and T pieces. But what to put into the frame?

Make a background from different types of fabric – cotton or even polyester. You can choose single-colored (blue, green or some other color) or colorful fabric with a pattern. Just make sure to iron the fabric so it doesn’t have wrinkles. Muslin is probably one of the best fabric choices since it’s very easy to dye.


4. Wooden Boards + 2 Sheets of Vinyl Paper = TWO Cute Backdrops

This one is nearly as simple, and chances are you have these items in your garage already. Check out all the parts you need:

  • A wooden board (dimensions will vary depending on the height of your model)
  • Two sheets of vinyl paper large enough to cover the board – choose your own styles
  • A baseboard to act like the floor
  • A beadboard

This solution is very convenient because you will have two awesome backdrops in one. Just flip the board over and there’s your second backdrop! Just in case your kiddo gets bored.


5. Build a Backdrop Wall from Wooden Planks

Buy as many wooden planks as possible – these are pretty cheap since they don’t even have to be finished. Actually, the rawer and more unfinished they look, the better their impact will be. Maybe you don’t even have to buy them. Just investigate a construction site and ask the workers for some leftovers they don’t need.

wooden planks as a backdrop

Two of those planks (preferably the strongest and thickest) will be used as support beams. Nail them all together, paint if needed, and there’s your vintage backdrop!

Or you can always make the process even simpler if you pick up a few wooden boards (the more, the better), and paint them in different colors. Maybe it sounds too simple, but it’s effective – check out how Recipe Girl did it.


6. Use Those Christmas Lights for Bokeh!

Here’s an idea that doesn’t require anything you don’t already have.

Pick up a large open space, take your strings of Christmas lights and attach them on the wall so all of them hang down. Ideally, the room should be as spacious as possible, so that you and your subject can both get away from the backdrop itself to take a proper angle and capture the Bokeh effect. Another requirement – get as much natural light as you can in front of your subject, while keeping it dark behind.

Christmas lights bokeh effect


7. Grandma’s Doilies Just Got Another Use

Those cute and nostalgic doilies from grandma would form a perfect backdrop for wedding photos.

Make a paste by mixing flour with water and soak the doilies in it. Blow a bunch of small balloons (adequate to the doilies’ size). These are going to be your molds. Wrap the doilies around them, and put each on top of a glass. A couple of days later, they will have hardened enough so you can blow out the balloons and glue the doilies on your wall. Head over here for full instructions.

If you don’t have enough time to play around with these DIY projects, check out this blog post about Photoshop overlays that can help you set up a background without moving a finger.