Bring out your Creativity

With our phones becoming an essential tool in our lives, we’ve started integrating them into our daily routines. We use them to document events and milestones, and then share them on social media.

One trend that seems set to continue is having photo booths at events and even gatherings. Guests are invited to shoot photos in front of a fun background to help document the memories of that special day.

And photographers are always looking for great studio backdrops to help make portraits interesting.

Keeping both scenarios in mind, I’ve put together three examples of easy-to-create backdrops that can be used in all sorts of situations. So whether you’re a serious portrait photographer who wants to create something unique for your business or a creative individual who wants to give your guests with something fun during an event, here are step-by-step instructions for creating some pretty cool backgrounds.

1# String and a Theme

For this creative effort all you need is a lot of string and some paper clips. I’ve used this technique with everything from displaying art to creating a fun backdrop  for portraits in support of Down Syndrome awareness.

(The creases in the fabric can easily be removed in Photoshop. I just wanted to show exactly how it looked.)

Created using some friends’ socks, two pieces of white fabric and some push pins.

The steps are quite simple.

  1. Get some string. (I’m partial to either black string or brown hemp-based string.)
  2. Using strong tape or hooks, run the string back and forth across the area you’ll be shooting. This works best on a blank wall or a plain backdrop cloth. (If you don’t have a backdrop cloth, iron a bed sheet and hang it up using thumbtacks.)
  3. Attach whatever theme items you’ve chosen at random places along the string using paper clips.
  4. Take some test photos to make sure you like the look of your backdrop.


I hung the socks from the string using bobby pins.

Here’s a background we made for a school. The design was created for World Down Syndrome Day. Everyone was encouraged to raise awareness by wearing crazy socks. So we created this simple background and then took photos of the students in front of the socks. It was easy to set up, and a lot of fun to shoot.


2# Paint Splatters and a Tri-Fold Display Board

Remember those tri-fold display boards we all bought to make our science fair projects? Well, here’s a backdrop you can make using that school day staple. It’s also easy to transport – just fold it up and away you go. It’s also a great way to use up any paint you have sitting around in the basement. 

I used some acrylic paint and a palette knife for this background. I decided to smear it this time, but you can also splatter the paint.

  1. Buy a tri-fold display board (black or white) from the dollar store.
  2. Choose some paint colors that go with your theme (or use whatever you have lying around in the basement). If the paint is too thick to splatter, adding water can help make it more pliable.
  3. Take the tri-fold board outside (or put down a lot of newspaper on the kitchen floor).
  4. Using a variety of brush sizes, randomly drip, splash or flick paint onto the tri-fold.
  5. Let it dry for several hours before moving the board.

If you load the knife with a few colors and drag it across the palette you get lots of mixing and color variation.

Here’s the full tri-fold display board. While the background isn’t very big, it’s quite portable. However, it does limit how much you see. But keep in mind you can always use a zoom lens and have your subject stand at a distance from the background. After all, a lot of DIY is about making do with what you have.

A simply white tri-board can be really useful. And in a pinch it can also be used as a reflector.

3# Brown Paper and Old Books

For this one you’ll need a roll of craft paper, which you can either hang from a studio backdrop or improvise by taping it to the wall. But you’ll have to be gentle with this backdrop, and if your guests or clients aren’t careful they could easily rip the paper.

Next, choose some books that have significance to your event. If it’s a baby shower, old children’s books might be a good choice for the background.

(I realize that some people think dismantling a book for a backdrop is blasphemous. Personally, I think it’s a great way to give it another purpose instead of having it just sit on the shelf. If this really bothers you, use newspapers instead.)

  1. Gather up old books you won’t be reading again, or visit the library and ask for any damaged books they’ll be throwing away. Flea markets and garage sales are also great places to find books.
  2. Cut pages out of the books that you find visually appealing
  3. Glue the pages to the long strip of brown craft paper you hung up
  4. Apply as many pages as you see fit. (You may want to use only a few pages, while someone else may want to completely cover the brown paper.)
  5. Carefully adjust the roll of paper so guests can easily stand in front of your backdrop

I used pages from an old Writer’s Market to create this background. The nice thing is I can roll it up and take it anywhere.

I also like the look of this background with a black and white treatment.

A classic black and white portrait in front is quite pleasing.

Other Ideas

Here’s are some more ideas for backgrounds.

  1. Run party streamers diagonally down the wall in a variety of colors.
  2. Hang homemade snowflakes from the ceiling.
  3. Hang Christmas lights behind a bed sheet for a glowing look.
  4. Collect fall leaves and glue them to brown paper.
  5. Use old rolls of wallpaper and drape them behind your subject. (No gluing required.)

There are countless ways to create an inspiring look for portraits. Don’t be afraid to be creative and use items you have lying around the house. And please share your ideas and examples. We’d love to see what items you use to make something truly fun and creative. 

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