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How To Mix And Match Photography Backdrops

Curious about photography backdrops and how to mix them in your food photography work? There are a number of ways you can mix and match backdrops and I hope my ideas will give you a creative boost for your work!

Curious about photography backdrops and how to mix them in your food photography work? There are a number of ways you can mix and match backdrops and I hope my ideas will give you a creative boost for your work!

*This post is sponsored. All opinions are my own.*

Let’s face it, once you start building your backdrop collection you start facing the issue of how to pair them. The options are literally endless however not everything works in every situation.

So I gathered a list of ideas and tips to spark your creative fire, try new combinations, and be comfortable doing so.

While doing so I tested my new food photography backdrops from V-flat. It’s the first time I tried backdrops with a stand or as they call it Duo legs. I was always used to either leaning the backdrop on the wall or clipping it to a stand. However, I found the legs to be very useful, especially since I’m often playing around with my artificial light and I can very easily put the light behind the backdrop if need be. Which is something I wouldn’t be able to do if I lean the backdrop to a wall.

So before we go to the tips and creative ideas, I just wanted to mention that all the photos in this post are made with the V-flat duo boards, and you can see how easy it is to set them up and mix and match them. Not to mention that they don’t curl like vinyl. I love and appreciate my vinyl backdrops, but these boards saved me time in editing (no curly edges in the photos, no-no). 

Without further ado…

Here are my creative ideas and tips in a nutshell:

1. Mixing and matching different colors

2. Mixing and matching smooth and rough textures

3. Mixing and matching patterns vs. no patterns

4. Mixing photography backdrops to create space

5. Mixing photography backdrops to create dynamics

6. Play of light & mixing photography backdrops

7. Mixing and matching backdrops to fit the story

1. Mixing and matching different colors

This is probably the most common technique and while it’s easy to mix two backdrops with similar colors, choosing two different colors can create a lovely feel and mood in your photo.

To really know which two {or more} colors to choose, we need to understand color theory. Since this is such a broad topic, we won’t go too deep. I suggest reading some art books or simply searching for them online and you should get a basic idea.

But whatever you do, always keep the food the star!

2. Mixing and matching smooth and rough textures

By smooth I mean a texture without a lot of visible bumps whereas by rough I mean a texture that has a very pronounced bump effect or pattern.

You can absolutely mix those two together, however, you need to be careful about a couple of things:

  • carefully choose the colors based on what we discussed in the previous section
  • it’s better to choose food with the opposite texture. Meaning, that if your subject is a very textured salad it might not work on a highly textured backdrop. In this case, you need to place the salad in a way where it has minimal interaction with the textured and more interaction with the smooth backdrop.

3. Mixing and matching patterns vs. no patterns

This is very similar to the previous creative idea, however in this case the texture is much more pronounced and looks more geometric hence – the pattern.

You need to watch the same things as above {so go ahead and read it if you haven’t yet}.

In comparison to simple but textured backdrops patterns are so much heavier in visual weight. This means that pairing them with highly textured foods is usually not a good idea. Choosing simpler and more uniform subjects is a better way to approach patterned backdrops.

Pairing them with a smoother photography backdrop makes it easier for the eye to process everything happening in the photo, so I encourage you to try it out and see the effect.

4. Mixing photography backdrops to create space

You can think of your backdrops as a vessel to create space. If it’s a flat lay it’s creating a feeling of a table or any other flat surface.

If you combine the two, you can give a sense of a familiar space. We are used to seeing floor and wall interact all around or a countertop and a wall interact in a kitchen.

But you can go even beyond that. Combining more than two photography backdrops is certainly possible. If you take a look at the example photo below, you’ll see how adding that extra backdrop on the left created a mystical feel {almost like whatever is behind is a secret}!

Before you choose a backdrop for your next photoshoot thinks about the space you want to create and what backdrops you can use and how many to make the viewer feel like they are in that space.

5. Mixing photography backdrops to create dynamics

Let’s talk more about the space we are creating with backdrops. Placing backdrops at certain angles can create beautiful diagonals and adds another dimension to a photo.

It’s very easy to get stuck in placing one backdrop behind another and set up that line between them to be perfectly horizontal. It’s just very logical. However, once you start to think about the backdrops as not only how they look, but how they can add to the flow in the composition, you’ll start to see that it can have a massive effect on how your photos look.

Think creating diagonals, triangles, placing one backdrop on top of another… the options are endless!

6. Play of light & mixing photography backdrops

Playing with light is one of the most exciting things about food photography if you ask me. I often like to play with hard light and shadows to create an interesting effect in my photos.

However, there is something crucial that can make or break a photo with a shadow play, when you are mixing different backdrops at the same time. Adding strong shadows to an already busy backdrop can become distracting very easily. That’s why I prefer having a strong shadow effect on the less busy backdrop. Just like you can see in the photo below.

7. Mixing and matching backdrops to fit the story

It goes without saying (although I’m saying it right now) that anything you put inside the scene needs to match the story you are telling. 

Including photography backdrops! Imagine those white tiles in the photo below to be black. 

Do you see how that would not fit the story of early morning breakfast? The photo would lose its freshness. 

And imagine if I used a green backdrop below and a purple one in the back. While the color combination might somehow work, the story would be completely crushed.

Never stop exploring photography backdrops and their combinations

Hope you enjoyed these tips and ideas for combining different backdrops. Now let’s roll up the sleeves and go practice, because practice makes perfect, as they say.

One thing you should never stop is trusting your own feeling and explore new options.

Let me know in the comments what are some of your favorite photography backdrop combinations!