Updated: May 26, 2019
I am always looking to up my photography game. When I began (err....stumbled) into cake decorating years ago I had no idea all the areas that it would lead me to outside of caking. Being an entrepreneur and running your own business takes a lot of work. Learning to be your own accountant, a photographer, a videographer (haha....be gentle, I am just starting), advertising, social media.......phew! It is a lot! So any little hacks and tricks that come along I really appreciate. Especially when they fit a criteria of saving me space and are budget friendly.
We are a rather large family with seven of us in a pretty tight space. I get the comments all the time in our online Facebook groups. "Oh, I have no room to film my tutorials". I feel you.....I really do. But don't let this little snag get you hung up on sharing your wisdom. I have a lot of little tips and tricks to help with the space crisis and I will be sharing one with you right here. These "do it yourself" backdrops I am using here today came out of a need to have something that was easy to store and would not take up much space.
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Why are backdrops important?
I have seen it time and time again. A fellow cake artist has spent hours and hours of their precious time on a masterpiece. There is a disaster everywhere across the table and a pile of dishes in the sink. Your creation has had its final finishing touches and now you are ready to take a photo and share all your hard work with the world. You are exhausted, but this moment must be documented and so, you snap a shot....with a cluttered messy table drawing the focus away from your lovely cake. Or maybe it is just a less than appealing wall with a texture that doesn't really do much for your cake. Backdrops (behind a cake in a picture) and/or under the cake (flat lay) can provide a clean and neutral background that should complement the project you are presenting. It should never clash or overwhelm drawing attention away from your creation. Another reason backdrops are great is because you can have a lot of fun with them changing them out for different styles and getting creative with them. Your whole world has opened up and now you have limitless options right at your fingertips. Backdrops are also very good for branding your work so you can keep a consistent theme with your product and your audience can single you out, recognizing your work right away.
How big should your backdrops be?
It really depends on your project. It is best to make sure that you have enough space when you are filming or taking a photograph that you clear the top and the sides for shots close up as well as shots further back away from the subject. With caking, I can usually get away with 3x5 or 4x6 foot space for a vertical backdrop. For this, I usually use a vinyl print or even some cloth that is sold by the yard. The downside to cloth is that you will need to iron it each time that you use it, but it can still be a wonderful tool so don't rule it out. When I am filming I like to have my camera filming overhead while I work so I just need to have a nice flat lay backdrop that will cover wherever I am filming. Do a little measuring before you film or take your photographs and you should be good to go.
How much do backdrops cost
The wood I used was less than $7 for a sheet. I chose a board at Home Depot that was sturdy and would not bend but was still light enough for me to move around and store easily. I wrap the finished backdrops up once I am done using them in plastic and tuck them away in storage. The cost of the contact paper will vary. I am partial to the "Very Berry" brand contact paper that they have on Amazon because it is thicker and just an overall better quality. They usually run about $23 for a large roll. The other two styles I purchased (wood grain and white) were a lot thinner but got the job done. You can see some minor imperfections in the wood slate that I used with the thinner contact paper but nothing that will show up in photographs. Overall cost is really up to you and how many you want to get.
Where to buy materials for backdrops
For the exact contact paper that I used for my backdrops in my video, I have shared the Amazon links below. The wood sheets I purchased at Home Depot.
Dark Wood Grain:
Let's Get Started: Materials you will need
Hair dryer A thin board that is not flexible (Home Depot) Sandpaper (optional) Cut board (optional - Home Depot will cut your boards if you ask) Xacto knife Dry Washcloth
To start have your boards cut to the size that you need. You may want to get some sandpaper to sand the edges down and any rough spots on the surface. Once that is finished be sure to clean off your board with a dry washcloth before you adhere your self-adhesive contact paper onto the board.
When you lay your contact paper on the board smooth out any wrinkles and air bubbles with a dry washcloth. It is pretty easy to do but takes a little time and they will come right out. It is very important to do this next step. With a blow dryer set to the highest heat go over the surface of the contact paper and smooth over a final time. This step ensures a solid bond to the wood and you will have a product that lasts a very long time.
Because we did not choose to go with a thick board we spent a little extra time making sure our edges were really sealed. This also helped because we added different paper to each side so it was necessary to make sure that they did not come loose later.
How to use backdrops
You can use backdrops or flat lay backdrops any which way that you come up with. Think about your subject matter and what is going to complement it the best. If it is a party theme it may be appropriate to have a more festive backdrop. I find that when filming or photographing food it is better to stick with neutrals like greys, browns, and whites. Another thing is to think about your branding. Selecting your own backgrounds afford you more control over your branding. Contact paper was a great option for filming my tutorials because it is waterproof and I often have spills. No worries here.....just a quick clean up like you would do on a regular counter and it looks like it never happened.
Beautiful backdrops.....Enjoy! ~ xo