As I’ve been perusing the works of some of my favorite food photographers, one element I’m drawn to is the backdrop. I absolutely love the look of food composed on a rustic farm table. The natural look enhances homey, comfort recipes, contrasts formal dishes to make them really pop and showcases the beauty of simple ingredients.
I haven’t yet found my dream barn wood table that perfectly complements the recipes I’m working on (I know it’s out there somewhere!). Even if I did have that perfect table, the best natural light in my house comes from a particular spot near my family room window. It’s not at all a convenient place to store a table and I’d hate to have to move large furniture to that area every time I want to shoot.
My solution was to create a rustic photography background that I could move around my house as needed. This pallet version fits perfectly under my couch so it’s within easy reach, but doesn’t get in the way when not in use. Best of all? This photo background was relatively quick to make using items I already had on hand. (It was so easy that I made two of them – one white and one the natural pallet wood color.)
How To Make A Rustic “Table” Photography Background
-A pallet or other similar scrap wood
-A piece of plywood, big enough to set the pallet boards on
-Wood glue and clamps or a drill and screws (no longer than the thickness of the pallet wood + the plywood)
-A claw hammer or crowbar for pulling apart the pallet
-Sandpaper (and preferably a power sander)
-A level (optional)
1. I removed the number of boards I needed from the pallet (some I sawed off, some I pulled off). Then I pried out the nails on the pallet boards so my photo shoots wouldn’t involve a trip to the hospital for a tetanus booster.
2. I lined up the boards onto the plywood. I didn’t bother making the ends the same length because they wouldn’t be seen in the final photographs.
3. I used a drill to screw the pallet boards and plywood together. During this process, I took some extra time to ensure that the boards were as level as possible. Instead of having to drill holes for the screws, I drilled the screws in where the original nails had been.
I also made another pallet backdrop using wood glue to secure the pallet wood and the plywood instead of screws. If you’re using wood glue, clamp those glued pieces together and let them dry. If you don’t have clamps, place sandbags or something very heavy on top of the boards so the wood stays together. Screwing the boards together or using wood glue both worked, but I think the former was a bit more secure (plus I enjoy any opportunity to use power tools).
4. Next, I sanded the pallet boards and the plywood a bit, since they were rough pieces of a scrap wood and I was eager to avoid painful splinters. A power sander makes this part super easy, but you could sand by hand if needed.
5. After all of this was done, I wiped down my new pallet backdrop to remove residual dust and dirt. For the backdrop shown here, I left it the natural color of the wood. I have a second one that I finished with a light coat of white paint.
6. The last step was to start photographing my favorite foods on my new rustic wood “table”!
Do you enjoy food photography? Who are some of your favorite food photographers and bloggers? I’d love to hear in the comments below!
Quick Tip: Not sure where to get a pallet? Click here for some suggestions.