Shuttergrub: How to Paint Faux Finishes for Food Photography BackgroundsNovember 7, 2012
- Mylene ChungWords
When people think of taking good food pictures, two things are usually considered, the food itself and the plate. While both are important, there’s one other thing people always overlook—the backgrounds and surfaces. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that the background and surface are more important than the plate because like the sky looming over a landscape, it’s the biggest factor in defining the overall mood of the photo.
Most of the time, I get my surfaces from junk shops and random dirty streets to look for termite-ravaged wood because it tends to have the most character. But sometimes, it’s also fun to make your own. Here’s a simple tutorial to get you started.
What you’ll be doing today is that dirty blue background behind those eggs. This is cheap, easy and definitely doable for your personal food photography projects.
Here’s a list of materials:
- Acrylic paint
- Foam board
- Paint mixing bucket
- Scrap papers
- Mix your paint: For this finish we’ll be stacking thin layers of paint so some parts may look lighter than the others. When mixing your paint, remember to test it out on a scrap paper every now and then to make sure you’re getting the color you want. I prefer to use acrylic paint because it is easier to mix and sticks well on most surfaces. You can also get acrylic in small tubes or jars unlike water based latex paint that only sells by the gallon.
- Practice painting with the chopsticks on a scrap paper: You will be painting with the 1-inch end of the chopsticks. Dip the chopsticks on the paint bucket, hold it horizontally on the scrap paper and scatter the paint in a vertical upward-downward motion. You are supposed to be creating a pattern similar to the one on the scratch paper above(lower left picture). Make sure to use disposable wooden chopsticks as it adds more texture to the paint strokes.
- Paint on the Foam Board: Once you’ve got the hang of the painting technique, start on the actual foam board. Feel free to repaint areas where the paint has dried to get a darker finish.
All photos were taken using a Samsung Galaxy Note 2, a smartphone with a stunning camera. Globe gave me a unit, so as a thank you, I’m demanding you to get it from them! Also, add me up on Twitter and Instagram for updates! If you want to learn food photography, I’m teaching over at 50 feasts.
Shuttergrub is Mylene Chung’s weekly food photography and prop styling column in Pepper.ph. Here, you’ll find food photography and prop styling tips, inspirations and other cool, related stuff. See you around!