Background Information

Every single photo, be it simple or complex, novice or professional, must always start with two essential components: A subject and a background. Whether we’re talking about people, products, or skyscrapers, it’s the same story. Mercifully, greater control is bestowed upon the photographer lucky enough to work with food, effortlessly modifying textures, colors, and patterns to best highlight the dish du jour. Inevitably cast as the backup singer by definition, photographic backgrounds never get the praise they deserve for setting the scene. Few single components can lay claim to the same power when it comes to affecting the whole composition of a piece in one fell swoop. Such responsibility naturally comes with serious drawbacks, especially when you find your microscopic apartment studio bursting at the seams with huge wooden boards and slabs of worn ceramic tiles. Lest every image start looking the same, it becomes imperative to start diversifying your options, and fast.

Uber Gray Grunge From Ink and Elm Backdrops

For a number of years, I found moderate success using lengths of contact paper as one approach to expand my collection of backgrounds, but this approach has distinct limitations. Rarely do the most useful patterns come in a matte finish, leading to distracting reflections or harsh shiny spots under the glare of strobe lights, especially if there should ever be the smallest wrinkle in the roll.

It was a serendipitous moment of aimless online shopping when I stumbled across Ink and Elm Backdrops. Though clearly developed with the portrait photographer in mind, I immediately saw potential for my inanimate focal points, too. Made of high-quality vinyl, the big question would be how that texture would translate under the close scrutiny of a macro lens. Don’t expect deep wood grain or genuine stone surfaces, but happily, not a single image came out screaming “ARTIFICIAL PRINT BACK HERE! THIS IS ALL A FARCE!” Good news too, since I hate it when my props yell at me.

Heirloom Planks From Ink and Elm Backdrops

Best of all for food photography, these surfaces are highly washable. Go ahead, lay your greasiest potato chips right on top, splash around with cookies dunked in milk; nothing seems to shake these sturdy foundations.

Flexible sizing is another big benefit that traditional alternatives can’t boast. Small squares are available for your basic shoot, but if you want to create a whole Thanksgiving spread on a rustic oak table spanning a couple of feet in both directions, they’ve got you covered, too. Plus, each sheet easily rolls up for compact storage when it’s all said and done.

There is one very serious pitfall to ordering through Ink and Elm, however. Their expansive catalog is so extensive, it’s almost impossible to pick out just one or two patterns!

15 thoughts on “Background Information

  1. wow, this is really cool! I pretty much just photograph every single thing on my dining room table, and I’m sure my blog readers are bored of that!

  2. WOW! Thank you for the information. :) I always wondered where all the backgrounds came from. Mine are soooo limited, I’m sure you’ve noticed. ;) I love that elm backdrop. I will absolutely have to look at the site. You take amazing photos, and I love your spot, I have a couple of questions about your blog, but don’t want to take up to much space here. Any chance you use FB messenger so we could chat if you have a minute? Thanks!

    1. I’m always happy to help, whenever possible! While I don’t use Facebook messenger, you can reach me at any time by email at hannah @ my sweet (no spaces.) Feel free to drop me a line! :)

  3. Such a great tip! I’m lucky that I mainly photograph things at restaurants so my backdrops are ever changing but when I’m home this is certainly something I’ll look into.

  4. Wow! This is really amazing post. I ,love popcorn very much. When I get free time. I love to eat popcorn with one cup of coffee. It was a nice combination. Please try this combinations.

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