5 Budget Flat Lay Backgrounds For Your Social Media Photos

Emma Crameri Emma Crameri has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
on 31 March 2017

If you are wanting to make your social media photos look more professional but you’re on a budget here is my tried-and-tested list of ideas for your backgrounds.

“A flat lay is a photo taken or a single or group of objects taken from above.”

1.  Sheet of cardboard

Many of my original photographs were taken with a poster sized sheet of white cardboard from my local newsagent. You can bend it around on the top of a small coffee table so it forms an arch and use bull dog clips to hold it in place. When the piece of cardboard gets dirty (as it will eventually), just replace it with a new one.

We used this method to take photos of food at night with clip on lights either side. Alternatively, you could buy a small plastic photo box (eBay has a good inexpensive range).

2.  Painted canvas board

Painted canvas boards are my current favourite method for taking flat lay photos. I use mostly A3 sized ones (12” x 16”). But go bigger if you can afford it.

I paint three layers of paint with a wide hardware paint brush and they are ready to use in a day. I like to use inexpensive paint like Mont Marte or Kaiser Colour from my local discount shop.

It’s best to have a selection of different coloured canvases – ideally that match your brand’s colours. Subtle colours tend to work the best – so think about the colours you paint a house with, rather than the colour of feature walls. Your colour palette will depend upon what type of brand you are and your target audience. If you’re a young hip brand then bright solid colours can work well, such as Wonderlass’ Instagram account.

Silver and the metallic colours are nice. Glitter paint not so much.

I have a linen canvas board which I bought from specialist art shop and it’s one of my favourite backgrounds.

3.  Fake Fur Rug

You can buy an inexpensive fake fur rug from Kmart and homeware shops. This is effective for displaying homeware, clothes, accessories and beauty products.

4.  Bare Table Tops

Bare table tops can work well if they are natural woods and the colours match your subject. Kitchen benches can go either way – mine has weird pinks and greys which doesn’t coordinate with many products.

Authentic wooden floors are popular, but make sure the object belongs there. Plates of food on the floor can look weird.

5.  Contact paper on thick cardboard

If you love the marbled look, then cover some foam cardboard or thick cardboard with contact paper. Kmart currently has an on-trend metallic range of contact in solid gold, rose gold, silver and copper. Avoid the busy patterns which kids use to cover the school books and use a metal ruler to flatten the paper down without wrinkles.

Bad Backgrounds 

Bad backgrounds can make you look like an amateur, so avoid tiles and concrete. Pieces of A4 paper and scrapbooking paper are usually not big enough. Unfolded wrapping paper is generally too busy.

Table cloths or long pieces of fabric need to be clean and well ironed. Quilts and blankets are best if they are one colour with no complex patterns.

I hope these ideas help you with selecting a range of great backgrounds and convince you that taking a great photo for social media doesn’t require a big budget.

For more tips, you may like to read my article on 10 Essential Tips for Taking Amazing Social Media Photos.

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