As a blogger I’ve often been challenged to get nice, creative backdrops for my images. In an ideal world photography gear wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg, every day would have perfect natural lighting conditions, and we’d have an infinite supply of marble countertops or worn wooden tables for those Pinterest-perfect shots. Since most people blog or shoot as a side hustle, though, it’s unrealistic to spend a fortune on a setup.
There are plenty of posts out there on creating your own photography space, but I wasn’t sold on a particular one. I found the backdrops to be way too large for an average home, as well as bulky to store and heavy to move around. I wanted to create something that I could actually use in my own capacity.
So I teamed up with Builders Warehouse to put together an affordable blogger photography setup that anyone can re-create at home. I have purposefully made this as easy as possible, no screwdrivers needed, and I’ve kept the prices low. I’ve chosen backdrops that suit my style and purpose, but get creative with different paints and finishes. Take time to browse the various products on offer, I was amazed at the variety of options I could find.
Here’s what I bought at Builders Warehouse:
Take note that these items were available at one of the larger Builders Warehouse stores. You can also browse their catalogue online at builders.co.za
- x2 Pro Art Gallery Stretch Canvas 14×16 inch, R120 each
- x5 Pro Art Canvas Panel 16×20 inch, R68 each
- Fired Earth Sticker Tile, R90 for 12 piece
- Contact paper with marble finish 5m x 450mm, R160 each
- Rust-Oleum American Accents Stone Textured Finish R159 for 340g
- Eurolux Desk Lamp, R99
- 2 step ladder, R325
I decided to go with canvas instead of chip board because it’s lighter and pre-prepped. These sizes worked really well with the contact paper, which was just big enough to tuck around the sides.
Applying the contact paper is similar to putting contact over school text books:
- Place the paper face down on a flat surface, sticky side still covered. Place the canvas down on top, and adjust so that your spacing is even all round – you want the contact paper to fold over the sides, which will keep it from peeling.
- Peel the cover off at the top – not all the way – then tuck it under the canvas and stick the contact paper at the top rim. Flip the canvas over, and use a soft, dry cloth to gently smooth the contact paper onto the canvas.
- Fold the corners over the sides on all ends, using scissors to cut the corners so that they fold neatly.
- You get a lot of contact paper in one roll so if you mess it up the first time, just try again.
- Keep your spare paper stored away in case you need to replace the cover at some point.
The tile stickers were a bit trickier to apply but I am really happy with how it turned out. They have a semi-gloss finish and can be wiped clean with a damp cloth. You also get them in a variety of patterns.
- Unpack all your stickers and lay them out first so that you’re happy with the look.
- Start on one end, folding the tile over both sides so that it won’t peel. Make sure you get the tile straight.
- Continue with the rest of the tiles. I overlapped them very slightly to avoid any white lines in between.
Sprays and paint
Another finish I am super chuffed with is the stone-texture spray paints by Rust-Oleum (between them and Fired Earth you’ll get some really great material to work with). These give a textured, rough stone finish to whatever you spray, and it works on wood, metal and more.
- Make sure your surface is completely clean and dry
- Spray in a well-ventilated space, with no wind or dust
- Shake the can well and spray from a distance, with smooth, even movements. Don’t re-spray wet sections, rather wait till it has dried completely and add another coat. I did two coats on both the lighter and dark boards.
I highly recommend natural lighting as far as possible, so try to set up close to a window. Of course not everyone has great light in their home, and we don’t always have perfect weather for pictures. If you can afford professional lighting and light boxes, it is going to make your life a whole lot easier. If you’re like me, try a cool LED light and diffuse it with some tissue paper (or shining it through stretched canvas). I also like using the stretched canvas to bounce light.
Another optional but worthwhile purchase is a step ladder, which gives you enough height for those flatlay top shots. Yes, you can also use a chair but this is way easier.
A note on decor
You honestly don’t have to spend a fortune to get cute setups for you shots. Think about what you have around the house that can add texture. Empty glass bottles, woven placemats, mirrors and tapas bowls all add life to an image. Second hand shops are brilliant for finding super cheap items that can serve as props, and sometimes simply adding a flower from the garden is enough to liven up your picture. Be creative instead of spending money unnecessarily.
Win with Builders Warehouse
One 9Lives reader will win a Builders Warehouse voucher worth R2000! That’s more than enough to get you started your own DIY project. To enter, tell me what DIY project you’d like to tackle. You can enter in the comments below, on any of the 9Lives social media platforms, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Entries close 1 March 2018.
This post was created in collaboration with Builders Warehouse