Easy Photo Back Drop

Photo Backdrop

Today I thought I’d share with you a sunny corner of my sewing room and a big secret. People ask me all the time how I photograph my Found it at the Market items so I thought I would let you in on the secret.  A nice bright north facing window and what looks like a simple a picture ledge shelf are my secret weapons.  I also have a little roll away table and a few other accessories to help with the job.

Photo Backdrop

The most important item is the one you don’t see. A simple, inexpensive, white roller shade mounted inside the shelf.  For quite a while I tried all sorts of different back drops from poster board to sheets but they all had their problems. For larger objects the poster board just wasn’t big enough and the sheets would show wrinkles if you didn’t iron them every time. Also if you tried to use two white boards for a base and a back drop you could always see the seam where the two met.  I decide to take a cue from professional photographer who use a curved backdrop to eliminate this problem.

Photo Backdrop

The roller shade was the perfect solution. Easy to find, inexpensive, and available in all different sizes so you can buy one as large or as small as you need. Just pull down the shade when its time for photos and drape it over the table for a nice clean white background. I also use a white poster board taped to the side of a piece of furniture opposite the window to reflect the light.

Photo Backdrop

The results are pictures that look like this. You may wonder why a north facing window?  You can see below that the shadow are nice and soft. A South facing window will give you a ton of light but also very sharp shadows. East and West facing windows will work too, but only at certain parts of the day when you are not getting direct sunlight. So for optimum shooting at all parts of the day a North facing window works best. (If you want dramatic shadow ignore this tip.)

Photo Backdrop

The pictures are not limited to small objects. Roller shade come in quite long lengths. The one I bought is long enough to roll out onto the floor to photograph larger items like chairs and tables and of course “Fat Lava” like this one. If you looking to shoot furniture buy an extra-large shade. Just be sure the items are wiped clean before you set them down so they don’t dirty the shade.

Photo BackdropPhoto Backdrop

The picture ledge shelf obviously is not necessary to taking great photos using a pull down shade, which can be attached directly to the wall, but if you have your back drop in a room you use for other things it does look much nicer to have the shade concealed. These shelves are pretty common if you look around in the states but I had trouble finding one here in Germany, so I made my own. It is just a basic box slightly larger than my shade with an added piece of trim molding. Here is a quick look at how its made.PicMonkey CollageI added a few nail with my nail gun just for good measure but this is not required, wood glue is extremely strong and will hold without the nails but I would recommend using them if you are making an extra-large shelf.  Then use wood filler to fill the wholes, sand and paint.

Happy Photos,




  1. This is PURE GENIUS! I was wondering about your pictures just the other day, and this explains it all! Thank you for sharing it, I will definitely built something like this for myself! 🙂

  2. Oh so clever Maggie!!! I’ve actually been ok with white poster paper in large sheets:I set it on a chair. And, if I use two pieces then I go into Photoshop to get rid of the seam (or use an overall texture from Kim Klassen). so many tricks, right?

    • Done the photoshop out the seam myself, I figure even one less step helps. A lot of time the photos go straight to Instagram no Photoshop on my iPhone. I know we all have our little short cuts, if only there were a place to share.

  3. Martha says:

    I’ve just been thinking of doing this myself. I don’t need the shelf because the room is not at all pretty and is just my photo studio and storage. I’m planning to attach the shade directly to the wall so I can have the option of the white backdrop or the aged, distressed plaster wall when the shade is rolled up. Thanks!

    • So glad I inspired you to finally get it done, you’ll wish you’d done it sooner. I also use mine to drape fabric over for other backgrounds. I’ve also been thinking a black pull down shade could be useful too.

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