3 bowls of noodles rest on a background

20th July 2018

The BEST Food Photography Backgrounds On a Budget

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The background you use for photography plays a huge role in the overall look and feel of your photo. Just as much as any other prop you use, your background contributes to your story giving context and purpose to your photo.

But how do you go about finding the perfect food photography background, without breaking the bank? In today’s post, I’m sharing my top tips for choosing the right background, and I’m sharing my secret to the best, most affordable food photography backgrounds I’ve ever used, so keep reading!

Throughout my years as a food photographer, I’ve gone through many different backgrounds. Not only has my own style and taste developed, but what’s “fashionable” in food photography has changed too. We’ve gone from marble to textured concrete amongst other things, and keeping your work fresh can be tiresome (and expensive).

I needed to find a way to expand my collection of backgrounds to keep a fresh feel in my work, and give me more options to shoot in a diverse range of moods, but they needed to be affordable and practical.

Before I jump into showing you the backgrounds I discovered, here are my top tips for choosing a food photography background.

The Best Food Photography Backgrounds on a Budget

Five Top Tips for Choosing the Perfect Food Photography Background

Keep the colour neutral.

You don’t want a background that’s going to distract from your food, so choose something that still allows your food to stand out as the hero. My go-to’s are grey toned backgrounds, as nearly everything looks good against them.

Avoid bold, bright colours that will steal focus from your main subject.

Super bright, bold, statement backgrounds can work, but the majority of the time, you’ll notice the background before you notice the food. So stick to slightly more muted, gentle colours.

Use cool toned backgrounds.

This is where a little bit of colour theory comes in! The vast majority of food is warm toned, so using a cool toned background (think grey, blue, purple tones), will act as a complementary colour, allowing your food to pop right off the background.

Make sure your background is big enough…to accommodate the shots you want to take.

The last thing you want is the edge of your photo becoming an awkward cut off where you were trying to do that full “tablescape” photo, but your background didn’t quite reach. I always go for at least 2 foot x 3 foot for my backgrounds.

Avoid shiny materials.

If you shoot on a reflective surface, you might end up with bright spots or ugly reflections in your photos which can distract from your main subject, your food! Choose backgrounds with a matte finish to avoid this problem and give yourself the most flexibility with lighting.

So in my quest for some new backgrounds, I started looking around on Instagram and found some absolutely INCREDIBLE images from some of my favourite photographers, using vinyl food photography backgrounds, I was seriously blown away at the food photos produced on these backgrounds. I spent a good amount of time researching different brands and decided to order some backgrounds from Capture by Lucy.

The best food photography backgrounds on a budget. Read this post to find out how I create a variety of different looks in my food photography on a budget.

Note: This post is not sponsored in any way. I purchased all of these backgrounds myself, and this is my honest review!

Capture by Lucy is a vinyl background store, based in the UK (shipping is available internationally!). The backgrounds are printed on both vinyl and PET, and are scaled up versions of an original photo taken by Lucy. This adds a “realness” to the backgrounds, giving them a really authentic feel.

There are SO many different options to choose from, you’ll have a hard time narrowing down your order!

I ordered about ten different backdrops, as I wanted to test out a variety of different materials and colours. I have some in a grey concrete style, some blue toned colourful backgrounds and some wood effect backgrounds.

Initial thoughts on Vinyl Food Photography Backgrounds

When I took the backgrounds out of the cardboard tube they were delivered in, the first thing I noticed was that they laid flat immediately. This has not been the case with vinyl backgrounds I have tried in the past, and makes these super convenient, because you can get on with shooting straight away, without worrying about having to weight down the corners to unfold them.

They are also super tough and durable. Of course, you still want to apply common sense and look after your vinyl background (like you would with any other background), but these aren’t going to easily tear, crinkle, or look worn.

They are waterproof and wipeable. This is probably one of my favourite things about these backgrounds. In food photography, we’re often working with spills, liquids, melting ice, or any number of wet things, so having a surface you can wipe clean and dry at the end is dreamy. Of course, again common sense applies. If you drop some beetroot on it and leave it hours before you clean it, it probably will stain, but in general terms, for normal use with food photography, these backgrounds provide a great amount of practicality.

But ultimately… how do they look?

Something to bear in mind. When I first got the backgrounds, I was a little skeptical of how they would actually look in a photo. When you look at the background close up in real life, you can kind of tell they are printed, however, from my experience shooting on them so far, this does not translate into the photos at all. So like with any other food photography background, you have to give it a test run in the studio to see how it really performs.

In order to test these backgrounds out, I shot the same noodle soup on three different backgrounds, Concrete Floor, Azure, and Grey Stone Walls. All three photos are shot in my usual artificial light setup.

Concrete Floor

The best food photography backgrounds on a budget. Read this post to find out how I create a variety of different looks in my food photography on a budget.

This background is probably the closest to what I’d normally gravitate towards in my own food photography, but I’ve never been able to find that “perfect” concrete before. I am absolutely thrilled with this backdrop, the texture on the concrete is just enough to look realistic, without being overpowering. The shade of grey is pale and cool without any green cast (which I have experienced with concrete backgrounds in the past).

The background is not shiny, so it doesn’t create any unrealistic bright spots or glare that would suggest this wasn’t shot on a piece of concrete.


The best food photography backgrounds on a budget. Read this post to find out how I create a variety of different looks in my food photography on a budget.

Out of the three backgrounds I tested, this one is the most different from my usual style, and a little out of my comfort zone! One of my goals is to broaden the range of styles I shoot in, pushing myself out of that comfortable space and working with more colour!

I love the bright, bold feel this background gives the photo. It adds a nice, fresh pop of colour without overpowering the food. By keeping it in a cool tone, it complements the majority of the food (which is largely warm toned), but keeps the greens looking fresh and crisp.

I generally plan to use this one more as a backdrop, so I can blur out a little bit of the texture with my depth of field, creating a fun backdrop for more warm/red toned food.

Grey Stone Walls

The best food photography backgrounds on a budget. Read this post to find out how I create a variety of different looks in my food photography on a budget.

This is one of the most heavily textured backgrounds I ordered, and I absolutely LOVE it. My food photography style is pretty minimal, I don’t shoot with a ton of props, so incorporating texture and interest in the background I use is a great way to add life to my photos.

This is quite a rustic style background, adding a roughness and imperfectness to photography. That’s a style that’s really “in” right now, so this is a great one to have in your collection!

Discovering vinyl backgrounds has been a total game changer in my quest for amazing food photography backgrounds on a budget! Definitely check out Capture by Lucy if you’re interested in giving these a go.

What is your favourite background for your food photography? Let me know in the comments!

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vajinismus evde yenenler

Our sharing has been very useful for me. I better understand the importance of background.

3 years ago

How thick would you say the Capture by Lucy Backdrops are?

Kaan Karadeniz
3 years ago

I like the idea azure over the grey stone wells. It is much better than anything else. I learned too much thinks about backgrounds right now. Thank you for your helps.

3 years ago

Thank you for sharing your love for the CBL backdrops! I learned about them through you here, and ordered six; they came in today (super fast shipping!) and I’m soooo excited! The quality is excellent as you said, and they do lay flat just out of the tube! I’m starting a food blog, not up and running yet but getting close to launch. Thanks again so much! Oh, and I went with Beloved, Nordic Stone, Pub Table, Grey Plaster, Nectar Stone and Nightfall.

Margot Kroos
3 years ago

what do you think about Deco To Solution for Photogrpahy Backgrounds – they have both Hard Board and Rollable Vinyl at

Heike Yates
3 years ago

This was awesome. I am just starting out with food photography and my friend also photographer her brand is called Elle near London reminded me a lot of you (she does branding photography). She recommended Lucy’s vinyl too. Following you on YouTube to learn more about food photography for my fitness and nutrition business.

Margot Kroos
3 years ago
Reply to  Heike Yates

have a look here…

3 years ago

great story.. i really like the azur colored background.. i think it would suit my food photography well, as we are a beachfront restaurant..

4 years ago

You are rocking my world today. I’m about 4 videos in. Sooo glad I found you after searching for reviews about Replica Surfaces (US) and a Pinterest post of yours about photography came up. Curious your thoughts on shooting on pure white for table top scenes vs on texture? I was thinking of white for surface to keep things bright and clean to show off the home goods products (vs food) and cement as vertical wall contrast in background. Replica has these brackets so you can create slip the backdrop board into them to create a vertical backdrop “wall” against… Read more »

Maryellen Q.
Maryellen Q.
4 years ago

Thank you so much for sharing this great tip! I’ve just ordered two for the Austin Book Arts Center social media photography! 🙂

5 years ago

Hi Lauren!

Do you have an update to which backdrops from CBL you like ( and maybe also if you bought some that you find a bit harder to use for food photography – would be very helpful)? I am just about to order some and wiuld appreciate your input;-) Thanks a lot, Lauren!

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