How I made a DIY backdrop for under 100€

As I recently decided to go with a home studio for future photo projects, there was a need for me to get a good backdrop to shoot portraits. Personal portraits is something that I would like to market in the future. But being low on cash after spending a lot of money on other equipment I had to get creative. So I made my own simple backdrop using simple stuff I could get at a home depot store. 

First of all I needed paint. After asking around in a few stores I decided to go with simple water baser wall paint as it was both cheap (15€ per 2,5L) and would work on most materials. The next step would be to get a fabric to serve as the actual backdrop. At first I had thought of using a simple bed sheet but then I found this really sturdy material used to isolate floors with. It’s kind of a plastic woven fabric. I got 3x4m of this for good measure. 

I also purchased some painting rollers and a stick to be able to paint with the fabric laid out on the floor, and plastic cover so I wouldn’t splash paint all over the apartment. All in all the total cost for the fabric, equipment and paint came down to around 90€ or so. 

The actual process of painting the fabric was fairly straightforward and I didn’t have any planned out method. First I laid out the plastic cover on my living room floor, and rolled out the woven fabric flat on it. I then used the rollers to paint a layer of white paint as a base. It dried within a couple of hours, and I then proceeded to making a darker greyish color – mixing black paint with water – working my way from the edges into the middle area. I repeated this a second time using a bit darker color, again working my way from the edges into the middle. I wanted the edges of the backdrop to be a little darker to put focus on the subject.

Note: On hindsight I did one mistake while bringing the fabric home. I rolled it up and folded it, creating permanent creases in it that can be seen in the image below. If I ever repeat a project like this I will be sure to also buy a paper cylinder (whatever they’re called) to roll up the fabric properly. Luckily, shooting with a flash at a front-facing angle basically removes all the creases from the image. But it’s very annoying so learn from my mistake.

I waited for a day and then proceeded to making the last layer, where I bascially used a torn off piece of fabric and “dabbing” black paint carefully on the backdrop, dragging it out, twisting, creating a sort of random and worn out texture. 

To be honest, I was ready to give up a couple of times, as I couldn’t imagine the result being good enough. Most of the time the whole thing just looked like a mess. But when I finally finished the last layer of black paint and let it dry, I hung it up on my backdrop stand and did some test shooting. I was surprised at the result. It’s not the best backdrop ever – certainly not a Gravity backdrop – but it definitely looks alright. And it’s cheap.

I did some serious portrait shooting in the weekend that followed and I liked the results. Here are two example portraits.