DIY Food Photography Backgrounds with Contact Paper

For the past few years, I’ve been shooting my cake photography with an all-white backdrop – white wall behind the cake, white board beneath the cake. Super simple and clean. Recently though, I’ve been thinking it would be nice to have a variety of colors and textures to use as backgrounds and surfaces just to switch things up every once in awhile. I found some backgrounds I loved, but after realizing that each one can cost upwards of $75, I thought I’d get a little creative and make my own. They turned out just the way I hoped, and I can’t wait to show you how to make them! 

diy food photography backgrounds contact paper
diy photography backgrounds for food photography

These DIY food photography backgrounds are super simple to create and mainly involve a foam core board as the base and contact paper as the covering. You can use any firm surface as the base and even make them double-sided (like I did!) to get twice the amount of background options. I found all of my contact paper on Amazon (exact colors linked in the materials list below), but you can also check your local hardware store or craft store.   

food photography backgrounds diy
how to style food photography sugar and sparrow

At a fraction of the cost ($3 per foam core board at my local Fred Meyer + $8-$10 per contact paper roll at the time of publishing this tutorial), these surfaces are perfect whether you’re just starting out in food photography or need a lot of styling options for your photos but don’t want to spend a ton of your budget. Here’s a quick video I whipped up of the process before I get into the details below:

If you’re into tutorials like this one, I’ve got even more on my YouTube Channel. There, you’ll find a ton of cake decorating tutorials, recipe videos, and my entire Cake Basics series that will teach you everything you need to know about building a cake from start to finish (and then some!). Be sure to hit the subscribe button while you’re there so you never miss out on a new video. 

You Will Need:

Step 1: Measure the Contact Paper

First, stretch the contact paper over the foam core board to measure out how much you’ll be using. Since the foam core is typically taller than the contact paper roll, you’ll likely need to add two pieces. For the first piece, simply roll the contact paper out and cut a piece that’s a little longer than the board.

how to make your own photo backgrounds

Step 2: Apply the Contact Paper

Starting on one side, carefully peel off a little of the contact paper backing and stick it down onto the foam core board as level as possible. 

how to cover a board with contact paper

Continue peeling the backing off the contact paper with one hand as you smooth it down over the surface of the foam core board with your other hand. 

diy food surfaces tutorial

Step 3: Smooth the Surface

Once the contact paper is stuck down, you’ll notice there may be some air bubbles in the surface. To smooth these down effectively, grab a bench scraper and run it over the surface of the contact paper.

diy photography backgrounds contact paper tutorial

It’s amazing how perfect the finish becomes with this step! 

Step 4: Trim the Edges

With an X-Acto knife, trim the excess contact paper so that the edges match up with the edge of the foam core board. 

how to make backgrounds for food photography
contact paper on foam core

Be careful with the surface you’re cutting on, as the X-Acto knife can easily slice through a table, floor, or whatever is beneath your foam core.  

Step 5: Repeat

Since my contact paper roll wasn’t large enough to cover the entire board, I needed to cut an additional piece of contact paper to cover the rest. Repeat the process of measuring and cutting the contact paper. Then, partially remove the backing on the side that will be meeting up with the seam of the other piece of contact paper. 

concrete contact paper

Carefully match up the seams as you stick the contact paper down. If you do overlap the seams, that seam is more likely to show up in your photos when using a wide depth of field. 

how to match up seams contact paper

When the seam is matched up and the second piece of contact paper is stuck down at the seam, remove the rest of the backing as you smooth the paper down over the remaining surface of the foam core. Once again, use your bench scraper to smooth out any wrinkles or air bubbles. 

how to smooth contact paper
DIY photo backgrounds with contact paper tutorial

From here, you can continue covering additional boards or create double-sided boards with more contact paper varieties! I found a ton of contact paper options on Amazon and am just so excited about how these surfaces can create a variety of environments for my cake photography. 

food photography tips for styling

Did you create your own food photography backgrounds with this tutorial? I want to see what you made! Feel free to share about your project in the comments or tag @sugarandsparrowco on Instagram to show me – I love seeing what you create!

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