Let’s be honest, photography equipment ain’t cheap. And it’s not just the camera. Or the lenses. After investing in those, it’s easy to find yourself lost down a rabbit trail of super cool – but super expensive – accessories. I fall for it, too. I just love hopping on some of my favorite photography sites to check out all the new gear out there.
But here’s my secret to staying on budget: I do enjoy checking out all the fancy new products out there, but I only browse to find ideas and inspiration. While there are a few things that you really need to pay up for (like your camera, lenses, memory, editing software, lighting), there are other areas where cheaper – or used – options work just as well. Don’t get caught up in the hype of all the trendiest most up-to-date photography gadgets or you’ll end up spending thousands of dollars in a matter of minutes.
One of my favorite areas to save? Backdrops! I actually enjoy creating backdrops on a budget…and that’s coming from a product and commercial photographer where quality detail images are essential for marketing.
3 Ways to Find Cheap Photography Backdrops
So, how do I source my photography backdrops on a budget? Here are three tips that will help you save (not just on backdrops, but other products as well):
Say No to Name Brand
Instead of buying from high-end photography brands, find creative options from craft and fabric stores or supermarkets like Michael’s, Joann, the Fabric Depot, Walmart, Target. They probably won’t be marketed as “photography backdrops,” so it may take some digging. But hey! you’re an artist. I guarantee you’ll find something that works just as well for half the price (as opposed to shopping custom backdrops on photography sites).
Shop Overstock, Wholesale, or Closeout Sales
Patience is a virtue. If you really like a certain brand or have your eye on a backdrop that you just have to have, try waiting until the end of the season. I’ve accumulated a great collection of backdrops over time by buying them on the cheap when stores transition their seasonal inventory. So, avoid the temptation to click “New Arrivals,” and instead try the sale items. In just a few months, I bet those new arrivals will end up on the sale rack.
Almost anything can become a backdrop if you use it right. Explore your options. In fact, materials with real texture and natural colors tend to look better than fabricated backdrops anyway.
Here are a few materials that have helped me design backdrops on a budget in the past:
- Butcher paper
- Crepe paper
- Dyed coffee filters
- Faux or real flowers and leaves
- Party supplies
- Quilts and blankets
- Reclaimed wood
- String lights
- Textured fabrics
- Tissue paper
Truthfully, hand-made backdrops have more dimension and aesthetic appeal than almost any $200 one-dimensional backdrop.
Have you had luck with unique backdrops on a budget? Let me know in the comments! Be sure to check out my related posts on how to shoot awesome photography at home and easy tricks of the trade!
Lindsay is a Los Angeles-based food, product, and commercial photographer. She specializes in Still Product & Food Photography, Lifestyle & Portrait Photography, Stop Motion, and Food Styling. Connect with her HERE for product marketing!