Transform your food photography at home with printed backdrops

By placing a specialist board behind or underneath subjects, it’s possible to create a cohesive-looking scene using a relatively small amount of space and budget (Image credit: Debby Donnelly-Addison, Instagram @thebohobaker)

Modern food photography – from supermarket ads to Instagram posts – is awash with beautifully curated images of foodie scenes. Most of us love to eat delicious food, just as much as we love pouring over pictures of it, but taking professional shots can be more challenging than you’d think.

Successful food photographers and lifestyle bloggers know how to arrange setups and match colors to make the most enchanting scenes. They also use complementary textures and props behind their subjects to complete the mood of an image. 

• Read more: 10 food photography tips

Food and props aside, if you want to instantly transform your own setups, shooting with a specialist background is a good place to start. 

We’re not going to focus on how you should style a whole still life setup – as we’d need pages for that – but simply how to shoot and choose your settings and camera position to get the best results. Here’s how to get set up!

01 Choose your backdrop

(Image credit: Future)

The right board depends on the look and feel you want, as well as the items in your frame. We chose a 60cm board called Foundry from Photo Boards, which had the effect of a rusted metal surface and suited a rustic cake.

02 Position the board

(Image credit: Future)

Stand your board on a work surface to act as a metal-effect background. For a realistic table and wall appearance, use two boards and ensure you can’t see any giveaway board edges in the shot.

03 Use window light

(Image credit: Future)

Setting up near a large window should give a more even spread of light, but avoid reflections on the board. Shoot your setup straight on (directly above for flat lay shoots), or from a 45-degree angle.

04 Don't get too close

(Image credit: Future)

For the best results when using printed backdrops, don’t shoot them too closely or you’ll start to see the dots of the print. When we noticed this, we swapped our macro lens for a 50mm prime.

Read more: best lenses for food photography

05 Camera settings

(Image credit: Future)

In Aperture Priority mode, set a low ISO and a wider aperture such as f/3.5. Handheld shooting is more freeing for composition, but mount your camera on a tripod in dim light to avoid blur.

Best tripod

06 Fill the frame

(Image credit: Future)

Use Live View mode to frame your scenes, filling the entire background area with the board so that you can’t see any edges. Shoot a few test images, then introduce the props when you’re happy. 

Read more

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Lauren Scott
Managing Editor

Lauren is the Managing Editor of Digital Camera World, having previously served as Editor of Digital Photographer magazine, a practical-focused publication that inspires hobbyists and seasoned pros alike to take truly phenomenal shots and get the best results from their kit. 

An experienced photography journalist who has been covering the industry for over eight years, she has also served as technique editor for both PhotoPlus: The Canon MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine and DCW's sister publication, Digital Camera Magazine

In addition to techniques and tutorials that enable you to achieve great results from your cameras, lenses, tripods and other photography equipment, Lauren can regularly be found interviewing some of the biggest names in the industry, sharing tips and guides on subjects like landscape and wildlife photography, and raising awareness for subjects such as mental health and women in photography.