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Creative Backdrops

Lesson 19 from: Craft Photography Fundamentals

Candice Stringham

Creative Backdrops

Lesson 19 from: Craft Photography Fundamentals

Candice Stringham

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Lesson Info

19. Creative Backdrops


Class Trailer

Session 1


Introduction to Craft Photography Fundamentals


What Your Visuals Say About Your Brand


How to Become a Photographic Author


How to Use Natural Light for Your Product Photography


Setting Up Your Photo: The Basic Rules


Becoming the Viewer to Take Better Photos


Shooting 3 Setups: Creating the Backstory with Images


Lesson Info

Creative Backdrops

Now we're gonna actually make stuff. Tips and Tricks. So I wanna talk about several different things and I would like to actually start with the tiles. So one of the things that we've done is tile a bunch of backboards so that we can switch out the tiles so that we can have different kitchens and bathrooms if we want to. There's three of us so that would make sense, right? Um, but, this is a way that you can create backgrounds and create different looks and not feel stagnant. But whether I do subway tiles or I do hexagon, it still has that same bright feel, it's just a little bit different. So, yes. So, what you're seeing here are sticker tiles. They're stickers. Would I put these in my house? No. Do they look completely real in the photographs you saw? Yeah. And they're not very expensive. They come in packs of four and you literally stick them on. So this is how they come. I just peel off the back. I'm giving you guys all my biggest secrets today. And I am gonna set this down or I'm ...

gonna do it wrong. And then you just simply line it up and this is on foam core. Mine at home is on a thin piece of wood just because I felt like I wanted it to be a little bit more sturdy because I knew I'd be using it a lot. But you just match it right up and stick it down and that's it. That is- I'm not gonna stick it all the way down because I have a feeling I did it crooked. So I'm going to pass it off. But you just stick it right down and now you have a bathroom set or a kitchen set. So if you are doing products that relate to that, then this is the packaging it comes in and they have all different kids of tiles. So, the other thing we've done is we've actually tiled with real tile. We bought plywood- you don't need the cement sheets like you would need in a bathroom because it doesn't need to be waterproof. They're not going to get wet like they would if they were really in your shower or in your bathroom. And so we bought a whole bunch of just thin plywood and we spackled it- or not spackled- grouted it and stuck it right down and we laid the tile just how you would really lay it. About the same size and now, I think we have four different tile backgrounds that we use that we switch out. So it's really inexpensive because tiles aren't that expensive when you're only buying a few feet and it works really really well. So that is one of my big secrets. I can grab this. Oh, yes. Thank you. So, the other thing I did, and that a lot of people are like well these wood backgrounds are great but I don't have a way to cut them. Or these big ones, where do you store them? These come pre-cut in this size from Lowe's so you don't have to cut anything, you don't have to sand anything you don't have to do anything to them if you don't want to. You could literally just photograph them as wood and the way I use these- I keep them separate because I'm photographing on tables already and I'm able to just line them up in a row (mumbles) and then I just push them together and now it looks like a table top. And the thing that I like about these is I can stain one side one color and I can stain the other side a different color and now I have two tabletops for the same price. And then when I'm done with them, they don't take up a lot of space. I just stack them up and put them in my garage. So we have a couple different tabletops that we've done this way and it's super fun because I could hammer it and distress it and have it be a farm table. Or I can- here we did a light gray stain that we're gonna show you. I like a little bit of the wood grain and the texture coming through but then if you just wanted one painted a bright color that matched your brand, you could paint the other side that color. So what I would do if you're painting one side one color and the other side another color is make sure you have one board that'll be at the end and showing that's one color and then the other that's at the other end the other color so that you can always flip and have one that'll be the right color on the side. So here we've just bought some thin gray stain and I just use foam brushes and just stain from the hardware store and we're just gonna run it down. And we're not gonna do a lot because it stinks so do this in a room where there's a window. I don't want us to die in here. (laughter) Okay, so I like to follow the grain. I would also if I wanted it- see this is going on a little bit thick so I would either- depending on if it's an oil-base or not get it wet with water or I would just start wiping it down to get the grain to come through the where I want it. So you guys are all creative crafters so I'm sure that you are well experienced in this. But I will just keep pulling and painting until I have it the look I want. Now we're painting this one separate. I don't recommend that. I recommend doing it all at once so that you have consistency and one's not darker than the other one but we wanted to show you, how we started that there. And it is strong. Can you guys smell that? Ugh! Okay. Try not to get it on my shirt. So that's one way that I create tabletops and this could apply to any craft- jewelry, pillows, anything that you know you're going to photograph top-down or even from the side because, again, we can put in a wall and now we have a floor and a wall. Or it can be a table and a wall. So I can create any look and if I wanted the floor, I'd probably do a little acrylic coat so it has the shine like your floor does. Okay. The other thing that I really really like to do is use chalk paint because you don't want glossy, shiny finishes, right? Unless it is a floor and that shine is what you would expect, it's so much easier to photograph on matte finishes. So chalk paint you can get pretty much anywhere now. It's really, really popular and I'm not talking about chalkboard paint. I do actually use that and we have that here somewhere, as well, but the chalk paint just has a chalky, matte finish. I really, really love it for photography because it gives you just a matte finish to photograph on. So, in this case, we're gonna thin it out as well because, again, I like having a little bit of the grain and a little bit of the texture. Now, if I could get it open. Oh, here we go. And I would get my brush wet first. Make a mess up here. And really- I want it to start out pretty thin. And then I'm gonna just go again with the grain and apply it and I like to do it in several different coats because it's really hard to pull it back, but it's easy to add. So then I would wipe and I would keep applying that until it looks exactly the way that I want it to look. But I also just love this white chalkboard finish for solid white, too. I think it's so much better- in fact, let's just do a piece solid white. But we're gonna be shooting on it tomorrow, the big piece, so you're gonna see that and I think we shot on it for the breakfast scene today, too. But I think that it just makes it so much easier to not have to deal with that shine and gives it that really, really pretty, pretty texture. I'm gonna put that down, as well and let's show the finished product. Yes. So Kate it showing you. But it's a really beautiful tabletop and I don't have a place in my house for a white table but now I have the option to shot like I'm on a white table. And that is how I do that. Okay. So let's talk about creating false walls now. So I've already told you we can get these foam-core boards and you can also get V Flats that are four by eight. Is that what size a V Flat is? I think. Yes. So eight feet tall so you could literally use it as a wall if you wanted to. And a lot of times, portrait photographers will use two of them and just gaffer tape them together and now they have a corner of the room. So if you were really interested in styling your pillows, from our audience, from different chairs, you could build yourself fake walls in different colors and put one chair in that, but change out the walls to kind of match whatever you're photographing and it would be really inexpensive way to do that without having to move around your house. Yes? Speaking of sizes, Candace, do you know kind of, approximately- a lot of people are asking- what size are the wood boards or some of those bigger ones, in terms of- (laughter) Kate's gonna look that up for us because I did measure everything and send it all but I do not have it memorized. So we will get you the sizes on that and like you said the bonus materials in the class are where I buy everything and what the sizes are and what I recommend where you go out and look for things. So this is one of my very, very favorite things to do because I just don't think a lot of people do it and it's really fun. It is creating my own wallpaper for walls. So if I want a really trendy look, I can probably find that in fabric for really inexpensive at a quilt store or just a big box craft store and I don't have the invest in the same way as I would a whole wallpaper roll. So I just buy enough to cover my panel and I make sure that I steam or iron out my fabric. I wrap it around and I either pin it or I tape it. Just like you would upholster something. And now if I put that up behind, and I pulled it tight and pinned it, now I have a like, amazing looking wall, like a statement wall that looks like you spent a ton of money and you can create all different kinds of sets. So I do that all the time. Because fabric is just so inexpensive if you're buying it- especially when you buy it with a 40% off coupon. And so it's like, why not try it? And it if doesn't work, I'm out like four dollars. That's worth trying. And so I really love that. Another fabric that we don't have in here but we're gonna use tomorrow, so you will see it, is Osnaburg and it's right next to muslin in fabric stores but it has more of a texture than muslin does. And so I really love that for the background so that's actually what you saw in my office in all those shots in the back because it has more of a linen-y texture to it but it's only like $3.99 a yard. So it's a really great fabric. I use it all the time for backgrounds and even just laid out on a table for a top down. Osnaburg. The other thing is I use blankets a lot in place of table cloths or place mats like you saw today because they're not very expensive. You can always find them on sale at the end of the season and then I'll invest in colors that I know work with my brand that I want to use in the future. So that is another tip. So one more thing- oh! And the other thing with these foam-core boards is I will buy wrapping paper, the flat, matte wrapping paper and then wallpaper the board with the wrapping paper. It's, again, much cheaper than buying an actual roll of designer wallpaper, but it gives me the same look.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Creating Visuals For Your Brand Assignment
Slide Presentation for Lessons Part 1
Slide Presentation for Lessons Part 2
Prop List

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

This class taught by Candice was amazing. She teaches in such a step-by-step, easy to understand pace. She shares so much of her own tips and tricks she uses to create beautiful images without spending a fortune or having all kinds of expensive equipment. Having the DSLR lessons included was really great for anyone who wants to do more than the camera phones are capable of. Learning the basics of how to use a DSLR is confusing for most people, but Candice broke it down in the simplest way possible. Social media is all about imagery, so if you want to put out the most beautiful eye-catching photos, then you want to learn how to use more than the camera phone. I don't have a business where I need to take photos of things I sell and I still enjoyed her class so much. As a photographer, I am going to use her ideas and insight when I photograph things for fun. There is so much to gain from this class. I would highly recommend taking her class. She is a wealth of great ideas and information and has that friendly personality of someone you'd want to sit and have coffee with.


A wonderful class to get you going with craft/product photography. Candice provides (and shows) fantastic examples and it's really fun to watch her work through a shoot, moving items, etc. to create the final image. She also covers some basic photography tips which is very helpful. Great class! I definitely recommend to others!

Melinda Malamoco

I loved this class! Candice is so personable, clear and relatable. I would want to hang out with her and be creative! I have been taking pictures for YEARS, and for my Etsy store for over two years, and I still learned a lot in her class. The lessons are set up in a way that you can follow, take what you want and don't worry about what you don't need. I will say that I got a TON of ideas for how to better display my brand, what my personal style is and how to be consistent with it. I so recommend this class for anyone who has small business or just wants to be able to take better pictures of their products. Okay, off to build a prop kit!

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