Flat lay photos are all the rage. There’s an art to it, and it starts with having the right backgrounds.
Fret not-- you don’t have to break the bank to collect an assortment of flat lay backdrops. If you do a ton of product or food photography, it’s probably worth it to invest in a few high quality surfaces, but if you’re mostly shooting for Instagram then you’re better off opting for a DIY budget-friendly version. Whatever your deal, here are some flat lay backgrounds for every budget, listed from cheapest to most expensive.
Take a little stroll through your home and look at all of your dining, coffee, and side tables-- these are your no-cost flat lay backdrop options! Drag one over to a window for some natural light, and you’re off to the races.
Foam Board or Uncut Mat Board
If you’re looking for a basic black, white, or colored surface, look no further than foam board or mat board. It’s super budget friendly, maxing out around $10 a board. Browse the Elmer’s site for a wide array of colored foam boards, or check out Matboard Plus or Michael’s for large pieces of uncut mat board.
Contact Paper + Foam Board
Want that grey marble look without dropping hundreds of dollars? Contact paper is the answer to your prayers! It’s also the hack that most creators you see on IG use for their flat lay backdrops. You can buy contact paper in a variety of patterns and “textures” that look pretty realistic-- it comes with an adhesive backing, so all you have to do is cut it to fit the size of your foam board then stick it on. Depending on which contact paper you decide on, you can put together one of these boards for less than $10. Just search “marble contact paper” or “wood contact paper” or whatever you’re looking for and you’ll find plenty of options.
DIY Wood Plank Surface
Wood backdrops are pretty foolproof as photo background-- most things look good on wood. If you find that the “wood” contact paper looks too unrealistic for your taste, you can DIY your own backdrop from real wood. Browse the google machine for some DIY instructions, like this one from Stupid Easy Paleo or this one from A Beautiful Mess. It may be a little time intensive, but if you’re thrifty, it’s worth it.
There are a few spots, like Heirloom Bindery or Lux Bindery, or where you can purchase premade “stylist’s boards” that have your choice of two fabrics mounted on either side of a board. They’re nice and convenient, but they’re an investment, ringing up at $100+. If you’re shooting products and have a more subdued style and color palette, these could be a good option for you.
Erickson Surfaces Boards
If you’re going to drop some money on a backdrop, my vote will go to Erickson Surfaces every time. I have one of their wooden planked surfaces and I’m obsessed. They do so much more than wood planks though-- they’ve got surfaces that convincingly mimic concrete, plaster, granite, cookie sheet, and marble. Plus you can get a custom surface made just for you. You can shop their Instagram here or browse their full offerings here.
Creative Community Developer at Snapfluence.
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