Blogging tips on styling and photography

How to make your own spotlight backdrop

If you want your photos to stand out from the crowd, a good place to start is having stunning backdrops.  Wouldn't it be great if they were not only eye catching but also different to anything else out there.  Time to get your DIY on!  I've done a fair bit of experimenting with different ideas and wanted to share with you my number one favourite result so you can make one for yourself.  This backdrop will effectively spotlight whatever you have in the foreground and will make it super easy for you to come up with a beautiful photo.  You may have already noticed the photos that feature this particular backdrop over at @prettycreativestyle as they are the most eye catching by far!


Firstly, you need to find yourself a board for your base - some plywood or hardboard or a similar substitute.  The one I used was the reverse side of a piece of veneer I found in a recycled timber yard.  The size that you make it will totally depend on what you'll be using if for.  The one pictured has been used in a range of settings - both for product photography in flat lays as well as sitting upright to photograph my daughter @indie_on_film.  For this, a 90cm square has been ideal.  


You'll need two test pots of acrylic paint - one white and one black.  I also had a third container that I mixed some black and white together in to get a colour somewhere in between.  All you need to do now is simply get started with a damp cloth, blending the colours together on your board.  The key is to have mostly white on the inside, black on the outside and some grey in between the two.  The black paint will easily dominate the white so keep this in mind with how much you are initially applying and make sure you don't rub a black cloth right in the middle of the board.  To help with blending you can sprinkle a small amount of water over the area you're working on.  Don't forget that the beauty lies in the imperfections so don't fret about those accidental paint drips or imperfect blends, embrace them as beautiful photographic opportunities.  

If your photos will end up with a square dimension, you'll want to aim for a square "spotlight" in the middle of the board.  This will be easier to achieve if you're already working with a square board.  Take a quick pic of your backdrop while you're creating it to make sure you're happy with how it's looking.  


Once the board is dry you can play around with positioning of items to utilise its full effect.  Use negative space to create a striking image or zoom in closer to the edge (pic below) to show off the contrast of the light and dark.  With post editing, you can also play around with the saturation to transform those darker areas to have either a blueish tinge or more grey/black.


I'd love to see how you get on with your own experimenting so please tag me so I can see your finished product.  I have other DIY backdrops that I can also teach you so please comment if you've found this useful and would like to know more and I can do another blog.  

See more "spotlight" images over at or get in touch if you'd like your products featured on this backdrop.

Selena Hardman1 Comment