Flat lay photo backdrop ideas and behind the scenes

I used to think that all my Instagram heroes lived remarkably beautiful lives and everything they touched or did was aesthetically perfect. Then I learned that is not the case! Instead, they learned to be super creative with their backdrops. So I am following along and learning too.

I’ve shown you my $107 home photo studio, but today I want to talk about flat lay backdrops. Flat lays are photos taken of items from straight above. Sometimes I’m staging a photo for this blog, sometimes I’m just playing around for fun or learning, but I’m really starting to like curating flat lays.

I run into a snag in a couple places at my house when I’m taking photos, though. My dark, shiny dining room table, while beautiful, does not lend itself to great photos. My brown speckled countertop is not ugly in person, but it is not attractive at all in a detailed food shot. But I’m learning that a backdrop can make all the difference.

I’ll show you what I’m using right now:

Photography backdrops and prop ideas - cutting board disguises ugly countertops

Cutting board

Check out this bread pic made a million times better with a marble cutting board that was here when we bought the house. I simply transferred everything I already had out on the counter on top of it and voila! Laminate or paper marble would work great too. I just can’t take too many pictures on it because then I want a marble countertop — and that just ain’t gonna happen.

(Also, that’s my first successful loaf of sourdough bread! Woot woot!)

Four pieces of scrapbook paper taped together makes a believable backdrop and takes less space than other props for flat lays


Oftentimes I just use paper! This wood background is four pieces of scrapbook paper that I taped together. The great thing about paper is that it takes such minimal space to store. Now that I’ve told you, you can probably see the creases, but would you have noticed on your own? Just say no. I don’t want to know the truth.

Scrapbook paper that looks like wood for flat lay

I also used the wood paper for my Sabbath with the kids post.

A piece of scrapbook paper makes a great photography prop and backdrop

Here’s one more flat lay photo on scrapbook paper. I like the texture and variation this piece has. Sorry, I ate the toast before I realized it would be a good idea to take an overall shot to show you! Haha!

Good old white poster board does wonders for blog photos and flat lays

Poster board

And don’t forget about good ol’ white poster board. You can’t go wrong with a simple and clean white background. One day all these whitewashed wood photos will look so 2017, but stark white is classic. I use poster board from the dollar store for my DIY instruction shots especially. This is from my DIY succulent centerpiece last week.

Thanksgiving family thankful chain flat lay

DIY backdrops

And then sometimes you want the real deal. Sometimes the shadows and textures of real wood or fabric dramatically affects the umph factor. If you want a freebie, though, you’ve got to be willing to get in there and dig in the trash without embarrassment!

Yesterday I was driving home from a girlfriend’s house after our Monday morning Bible study and spotted a pile of old fence. (It made me a little sad because the debris was still sitting, waiting to be picked up from the hurricane in September.) I grabbed my perfect piece, put it the van, told Adri not to touch the rusty nails like a good mama and brought it home.

Old wood for photo backdrop

I sawed off the piece hanging off there and nailed it to the other side to stabilize it.

DIY easy flatlay photo backdrops

I couldn’t decide whether to whitewash it or not, so I did half! A girl’s gotta have options, right? I did a mixture of half paint and half water and gave it several layers.

Sawing, nailing and painting took me about 30 minutes. I’m learning that if I want to do all the projects I have in mind, blog twice a week and still spend ample quality time with the kids (two of which are always with me!), I need to start working faster and become less of a perfectionist.

Behind the scenes easy flat lay backdrops

Flat lay ideas

This is the whitewashed side and I think I am going to have so much fun with it. And when I’m taking pictures, this is what’s going on beside, below or on top of me. A curious little monkey is always very, very close by.

Are we connected on Instagram? Come follow along with my crazy, but honest story here.

P.S. Sorry you had to see so many pictures of my not-photo-worthy feet!

3 thoughts on “Flat lay photo backdrop ideas and behind the scenes

  1. This post is so timely! I’ve recently gotten into food styling and been struggling with cheap backdrop ideas. Scrapbook paper is genius! Thanks again 😊

  2. Hi Emily! Food styling sounds like so much fun! So happy you liked the scrapbook paper idea. Great cheap minds think alike :)

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