Knowing what background to use is often the most challenging part of product photography.
When you are an amateur product photographer, you may even find yourself picking up your camera having forgotten about the background. It is not always easy to know what background is right for your products.
That is why we have put together this photography background guide. The tips and advice we are offering are only guidelines. The great thing about photography is that experimenting and playing around with different backgrounds often produce surprisingly good results.
At the end of the day, remember that your product is unique. It is all about what works for your products.
A Solid Photography Background
The most popular choice is a solid background. Although it is really the most basic photography background, when photographed in the right way, it allows for the product to make a serious statement. In other words, it makes the product the star of the show. It is a great way of creating a hero shot.
What is the best color background? That depends on the color of your product. One thing is for sure, you don’t want your product to fade or blend into the background. It needs to stand out and appear at the forefront of the photograph.
As an increasing number of products are being sold and promoted over social media networks, adding a contrasting color is the best idea. So, if you are photographing a yellow product, you should use a purple or lilac background. Using a contrasting or clashing color will make sure your product pops out on even the smallest screen.
Does a white background have the same effect? It can do, but white is not always the best choice. This is particularly true when you are going to promote your images on social media.
Playing around with color and find out what works for you. You can buy different color paper in many art and craft shops. Buy a couple of big sheets. You can always cut down in size when you are photographing a smaller object.
Can you use two different solid colors? Yes, you can. They can either be contrasting colors or different tones or shades of the same color.
If you like to work with shadows and different wavelengths of lights in your product photography, a solid background is always the best. You can easily use shadows to emphasize the entire product or parts of the product.
What About Patterns?
Patterns are more difficult to work with as backgrounds. But, it is very doable.
If you would like to use patterns, you need to plan ahead and play around before you start shooting. Patterns do work well as a photography background, but you want to make sure your object doesn’t disappear. That can easily happen.
In general, it is best to work with patterns when you have previous experience in product photography. Also, remember that too many patterns can spoil the image. That is important if you are running a dedicated Woocommerce site where images are often smaller.
What type of products should you photography using a patterned background? Although patterned photography backgrounds lend themselves to a variety of subjects, one of the best ways to apply the technique, is when photographing food.
For instance, if you are photographing a particular food brand, do your best to use the colors associated with the product. If the box is red, you could try using red as part of your pattern.
Another technique you could try is using association. What does that mean? A good example would be photographing Mexican beer or Tequila. Most of us associate lemons with Mexican alcoholic beverages. Try using a background of sliced lemons. You have now made an instant connection between the product and the background.
When photographing an Italian pasta brand, add garlic and other herbs to form a connection that customers can relate to. Needless to say, a bottle of wine or champagne is best photographed together with an ice bucket or a couple of glasses.
Can I Use Textures?
What about Natural Surroundings?
A beautiful natural setting makes for a great photography background. What can you use as a natural background?
Well, that all depends on what you are selling. If you are selling fishing equipment, it is a good idea to find yourself a seaside or lakeside location. Place the equipment in such a way that it looks like someone could just pick it up and go fishing.
You are now tempting someone to buy that gear. They will start to remember how much they enjoy going fishing and will want to go. That is how you tempt someone to buy your products.
Don’t make the background too busy. You want to make sure that the products that you are selling or promoting are clearly visible. Look at the entire photo as a composition.
Remember when we used to send postcards? In many ways, you are actually taking a postcard style photo. You are telling a story about fishing. It should feel that the person looking at the photograph should want to be there.
Lifestyle Photography Backgrounds
The answer to that question is absolutely! You will often find different textures used as a photography background in fashion and apparel photography.
You can use a variety of textures or simply go for one texture. When photographing a pair of jeans for a winter or fall season shot, place them on top of a knitted sweater. That immediately tells a customer that those jeans are going to be nice and warm.
The image will have another advantage as well. If you also sell sweaters in your eCommerce store, it will tell the customer that it would be a good idea to buy a sweater as well.
It is all about thinking ahead and making the most of your photographs. When you sell socks and boots, you may even want to add both. That way, you end up with a photograph that has texture and patterns.
You can even go as far as to call it a lifestyle photograph.
Another way of using textures is when you photograph cosmetics and beauty products. Try photographing a nail polish on paper background and adding a few smudges or smears of the nail polish color next to the bottle. It looks great and you have instantly added a texture with hardly an effort at all.
Product photography is all about spotting opportunities and discovering what is possible.
Lifestyle photography is more important than you think when it comes to selling products.
What products make excellent lifestyle photography objects? Some of the best products for this kind of photography background include:
● Blankets and throws
Yes, lifestyle photography takes a lot of setting up but is worth your while as you will certainly sell more products.
If you are only starting out, you may find this challenging. That being said, there are plenty of ways around the problem.
Maybe you have a friend with a nice home. Why not ask them if you can use their home for your lifestyle photography shoot?
Throws and blankets look great when displayed on a nice looking sofa. Creating the right background is super important. You can even have a couple of candles in the background.
For your next photograph, simply switch around and palace the candles in the foreground. The throws can blend in the background. What really matters is that the customer gets a sense that they are there.
That is how you put together a good quality lifestyle photography shoot.
Using Models or Mannequins
Are models and mannequins part of the photography background?
Yes, they can be. We are going to take a look at a couple of examples when models are part of the background.
The most obvious one is skincare and beauty products. Even though some cosmetic companies use splash photography or colored backgrounds, most still prefer to use live models.
It adds emphasis and life to any product. When selling make-up products such as lipsticks, mascaras, and eyeshadows, using live models is a great idea. It is a much better way of showing the true color of the product.
You will also find that this is a popular way of selling high-end handbags. Sure, they look nice photographed on a white or colored background. But, the truth is that sometimes you want to add a little bit of action.
Check out popular social media sites such as Instagram and Facebook, and you will find that many brands use models when promoting their bags on social media.
You can argue that the model is not really part of the background, but that depends on how the photograph has been taken. If she slightly blurs into the background, but the bag still remains prominent, she is part of the background.
Is there any room for action backgrounds in product photography? Of course, this is a great opportunity to tell your customers what your products are all about and how they can use them.
Once again, you can say that lifestyle photography is very much of the allover photography background experience.
If you are selling fashion or clothes that go with sailing, photographing them when sailing is a fantastic idea. It may be rather a complicated shoot but it will certainly look great.
Even if it is just something as simple as a pair of deck shoes, having an action background will make a difference. It will immediately tell someone that they are looking at a pair of deck shoes for sailing.
Using an action background is also a great way of photographing cars. If you are asked to photograph a European sports car, going down to the local race track is not a bad idea at all.
Can I Use Infogragraphics As A Photography Background?
Infographics are something relatively new. They are very popular as part of eCommerce photography and pop up all of the time on sites such as Amazon.
By all means, you can use infographics as part of the background. When you want to let your customers know what a product is made from using infographics is a great idea. You can add arrows indicating what part of the product is made out of a specific material. It is a great way of selling advanced outdoor gear.
A high-quality outdoor jacket for hunting or hiking is often made up out of several layers. Why not indicated each layer with an infographic?
The customer will instantly see what materials the jacket is made from. It also helps to show that it is a quality product. In this way, you will only need a much shorter product description. Your customer will find that making up is mind is much easier and you will increase your sales.
Infographics are often part of photography backgrounds. We don’t think of them as a background, but it is very much what they are when you stop and think.
Using Adobe To Manipulate The Background
Many photographers spend considerable time in post-production manipulating and working on the background to get it just right.
It is a great idea. This is when you add more shadow or fix minor background problems. When it comes to the background, the work you do in post-production is often just as important as when you take the photograph.
Our Final Verdict
Yes, the photography background does matter. It is a very personal and individual choice.
Don’t lose sight of the fact we buy with our eyes. The job of the background is to make your products as attractive as possible. It should add definition and emphasis your message.
You will learn a lot about backgrounds when you work with products. Make sure that you play around with both your products and backgrounds until you find the right combination. You will know when that is – it is when your photograph really pops out at you and says here I am.
Working with backgrounds has a rather steep learning curve. But, as all professional product photographers know, the background often matters as much as the product itself.