Create an affordable blogger photography setup + WIN with Builders Warehouse | 9Lives
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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

  • 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.

Contact Paper

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.

Tile Stickers

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 Entries close 1 March 2018.

This post was created in collaboration with Builders Warehouse


I am a lifestyle blogger from Cape Town trying to find the best ways to spend my time, take care of my body and express myself. I am slightly obsessed with fragrances, sneakers, Jamie Oliver and Masterchef Australia. Oh, and I probably drink way too much wine.


  1. Jeanette Ras Reply

    This DIY project has been on the back burner for quite a while now, but before I say goodbye to 2018, it will be finished. My microwave is taking up a lot of counter space. So I want to build a microwave casing to put up against the wall, saving a lot of space.

  2. Great tips! This post got me excited! Those tile papers and contact stickers look like the real deal! I love posting pictures of my homemade baked treats, so these tips and tricks will come in handy, now all I need is a fab Builders Warehouse voucher?

  3. Wow loving all your tips, my DIY project is to make a headboard for my daughters bed – she is getting married next month and this is something I would love to do for her new home.

  4. My DIY project is to build an extra cupboard in my kitchen to look almost like a pantry, but not a walk in pantry, I had a pantry growing up and I must say it is the one thing I miss the most.

  5. Faziela Prantice Reply

    I would love to build shelves against the wall in my grandsons room for his toys and books ,as its always a running around finding his stuff. It’s actually so frustrating,with nice shelves mounted against the wall it would be some much easier to find what you looking for. It would be super duper. Thank You 9Lives and Builders Fan for this wonderful opportunity.

  6. Anita Steenkamp Reply

    My little ones room, I have a 15 week old baby and I have not done her room yet.

  7. My DYI project is to upgrade the stoep area of my home. I’m a stoep person and mine is in need of serious TCL to make it more enjoyable to sit on.

  8. Tania Brewis Reply

    My DIY project is to make my garden wood set (chair and table) look like a brand new set.

  9. Janel Sunderlall Reply

    I am moving into my new home soon so this would really help me spruce the place up

  10. Thubelihle Shabalala Reply

    I’d like to #DIY my own pallette bed and customize my bedroom with colourful bright pictures and art pieces. So builders us the perfect warehouse to start tackle my #DIY as I’d find perfect wood, craft pieces, and stuff to make my bedroom a dream that I want it to be

  11. Bianca Balutto Reply

    I would love to create something similiar to what you have to take pictures for my blog as I’m always running out of new flatlay ideas and this would help alot. I always use natural light but sometimes it’s quite difficult so you have really giving me some awesome tips.

  12. Moira Mc Allister Reply

    WoW what a great idea and it looks so chic. My bedroom need a make over so you have got me excited. I would love this fab Builders Warehouse voucher to fullfil my dreams and turn my bedroom into a master piece

  13. Soraya asmal Reply

    I would like to build a fish tank stand with cupboards this Easter holidays and get the kids involved as they love fish

  14. Megan Jonkers Reply

    My DIY project is to create a picture and inspiration wall, I want to turn on of the walls at home into a complete DIY picture and inspiration wall and this voucher will get me started!

  15. Carey-Anne Kerby Reply

    Oh my I am not a blogger but this is awesome for when I have to photograph my baked goodies and for my kids projects. Thanks so much!!???

  16. Beverley Ann Swanepoel Reply

    Hubby and I love working with old wood furniture and refurbishing them, or making wooden frames for gorgeouş Calender photos we have. With our current project we have decided to make our wine rack a bit smaller (from 16 bottles to twelve) as it takes up too much space haha. This voucher would be so helpful as we need to get glue and wood screws etc……

  17. Nicola Meyer Reply

    We are currently busy with DIY bedroom and bathroom makeover. I’m debating about using wallpaper on one of the bedroom walls.

  18. Right now, I’m actually trying to DIY some sort of an industrial side lamp. But I’d also like yo try DIY a ring light and home studio backdrop for taking portrait shots

  19. Anusha Naidoo Reply

    I absolutely loved reading this article
    My DIY project is to make a bookcase as well as two bookshelves for my large book collection as I am a avid reader.

    Thank you for a wonderful giveaway

  20. Martie Schoeman Reply

    Time to do DIY on my furniture! Thanks for the great page. love it

  21. Juanita Pienaar Reply

    We recently moved into a new apartment. I love everything about it, except for the really ugggly? kitchen tiles. All I want to do is cover it and those tile stickers look perfect for what I have in mind. ?

  22. kamilah francis Reply

    Ny bathroom needs some shelves and i have small corner tables that need a different colour spray paint

    • Adeline Pillay Reply

      I would love to plaster my house as it wasn’t plastered before, make an en suite for my bedroom as we only have one bathroom in our house and also concrete outside as the previous workers did a bad job. I would also love to put tiles in my house as there are very old tiles. Winning this would really help me kickstart my diy product. And I would also like to have built in cupboards in the future. #9LivesBirthdayGiveaways

  23. I so agree that props don’t have to be expensive. I walk around my garden and pick flowers all the time. I try to use whatever I have in the house. I have 3 kids…so spare cash, no ‘office’ so I don’t have a photography space so I love all these tips. I shoot on a loose white shelf on the edge of my bed while holding another loose shelf up behind that shelf. The struggle is real.

    I am a mother first and foremost though and so I’d use this to put shelves up in my daughter’s room and if there’s change I’d get some of that textured spray and some odds and ends to make my pics more interesting.

  24. Pravina Walabh Reply

    I would love to tackle a cork feature wall in my lounge.

    I absolutely love DIY projects and currently tackling the tiling in my kitchen.

  25. Thank you for these awesome ideas! I never thought of half of them. I make bridal hangers and didn’t know how to take nice pictures with great backgrounds, if I won I would love to Diy some awesome backdrops to get more professional shots of my work.

  26. I think my top DIY projects for 2018 would be to make some cement planters, make new desks for hubby & myself (I have some unused kitchen counter that I’m planning to use as the desktop) & add some nice bookshelves in my kids room 🙂 2018 has definitely become the year for me to do more, but to spend less, hint hint, help a stay-at-home mom out 😉 #9lives #builderswarehouse

  27. Andri Groenewald Reply

    I would love to build something like this to help take pretty pictures for my blog!

  28. thea lennox Reply

    Would love to do a DIY where i have a feature wall in with floating selves to put up ornaments and pics. blog is so inspirational

  29. I moved to JHB recently so I’d love to re-do my new room and put some of myself into the decor. A blogging photo corner will also be a part of the project ?

  30. Julie April Reply

    I would LOVE to finish redoing my dream craft room! Fingers crossed!!

  31. Would love to update my boy’s room from baby to toddler. My mom gifted a bed for him that needs some love and we would also like to put some extra shelving and give the room a lick of paint!

  32. Firdows Thebus Reply

    Thanks for the awesome tip,absolutely love it. My current DIY project is to redo my brothers room by replacing hia bed with pallet flat bed and building racks for shoes using the old long boards he has collected over the years. Id like to also spruce up his little bathroom to make it more modern and tie it into his room theme. The tile stickers will do an amazing job as a cheap innovative cover up. Fingers crossed, I could really do with that voucher to speed up the project

  33. Ryan Abrey Reply

    I lost my bar when moving into our smaller house in observatory. So id love to put together my DIY wall mounted drinks tray. Keen to use a wine box on its side with a hinged door, hangers for glasses and maybe a shot pourer for my whisky.

  34. Thank you so much for this post – it really gets the creative juices flowing and I will definitely make a trip to Builders as I have already screen shot your shopping list lol (o:
    As a hair blogger, I know bloggers don’t always have it all together and I have been meaning to invest in some good backdrops for the longest time – who wants to see the same old background of hair product pictures – not me. If I won, I would definitely replicate the DIY backdrops as my project and throw in some of those tiles for my small kitchen that needs a refreshed look. Well done and thank you again.

  35. stephanie videira Reply

    I really want to put some book shelves up in my daughters room and have seen some great ideas on pin-interest

  36. What a fab article with great tips!! I now have a second diy job to add to my list. Firstly giving my kitchen cupboards a much needed face lift and now buying some goodies as per your article to make some backdrops for taking pretty photos!

  37. My sister and I have been begging my parents to buy us a bookcase and a shelf for our makeup and skincare. They’ve been putting it off for so long because it’s a bit pricy. So we’ve decided to build it ourselves. But we only have a few tools for it. This voucher would be extremely helpful. Would love to build my own bookcase, it’ll benefit my future self so much. I want to be a very handy person one day.

  38. Thank you for the great tips 💜

    My DIY project is a very important one. It’s a study desk with a book shelf for my little girl. We moved apartments and the new does not have a built in study desk with a shelf so studing and homework is quite difficult for my daughter. Her home work needs to be done on the kitchen counter and it’s really difficult. Her back hurts and she also has to wait for me to finish up in the kitchen. Pretty please can you make my DIY project a reality and help my little girl to study and complete her homework comfortably.

  39. Zayne Khan Reply

    Wow I wasn’t aware there were so many options available to create a background and at such reasonable prices. I would like to do up my bathroom and I can’t wait to visit Builders to see what they have to offer!

  40. Oh my, this couldn’t come at a better time! I am so going to get a step ladder like this for overhead shots – I almost twisted my ankle standing on a chair recently. And thanks for the rustoleum tips – love those backdrops. So our home is DIY madness, we’ve been in a state of renovation for 2 years now and we’re in the kitchen now. I would love to turn our freestanding counters into snazzy ones, by adding stone tops and castor wheels – this would go a far way towards making it look semi-finished! Fingers crossed 😉

  41. Este van Aswegen Reply

    We busy making my youngest a big boy room and the biggest DIY for his room is the bed…I want one of those Teepee beds. Would love a little bit help with this Builders voucher

  42. Tanya joseph Reply

    With the help of Builders, my husband proved me wrong and built our Toddler a “big boy” bed….. and it came out perfect. Big mistake for him… my (his) next diy project would be to get the baby’s room complete ;we’re expevting in May) Fresh paint, wallpaper & those cute little wooden shelves (that you would pay a fortune for ) but can be made with some help from Builders

  43. Paint, paint and paint! I’m itching to get rid of the awful mustard paint effect the previous owners left on our walls.

  44. This is CRAZY! Did you create two of the canvases just with spray paint? My mind is boggling and I can’t understand how you can get a textured look from spray paint? :O

    I would love to tackle this exact DIY – go grab some contact, etc. I also have a few goodies around the house that are in rooms where the major hardware colour is gold, but the item I want to put in that room is silver. So silver and gold spray painting is on my DIY to-do list, as well!

    ♡ Cammy • Jane Wonder – Fashion and Beauty Blog •

  45. Thandie Phakati Reply

    Mi have recently taken a liking in doing product reviews, in plants and photography. I would love to DIY a little nursery and also make picture perfect backdrops like the ones you displayed. Omg it’s getting me excited.

  46. I’m so happy I found this post, thank you so much for writing it! I am a newbie blogger and have been thinking of DIYing some flat lay boards for a while, but wasn’t sure how to go about it. This is so so helpful! Thanks for your awesome blog 😀

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