DIY photo backdrop for portraits (rustic brick wall background)

The most obvious reason to make a DIY photo backdrop is that it’s way cheaper than buying a commercial photography backdrop. But there’s more to it than that. Sometimes it’s just nice to have something that no other photographer has. Plus, when you make your own backdrop for photoshoots, it’s designed to suit your needs exactly.

I wanted a rustic looking brick wall background, but my studio was the opposite of rustic – it was very white and slick.

So I created my own brick wall DIY photography backdrop for portraits. I’ll show you how in a moment.

Homemade brick wall DIY photography backdrop for portraits

They were mainly toddler and newborn photo backdrops, but could easily be used for products too. My most important requirements, apart from looking good in photos, was that they had to be:

  • Safe
  • Easy to move around
  • Easy to store
  • Wrinkle free

Yes, you can buy printed photography backdrops that look like a brick wall, but:

  • You have to be really careful that the backdrop hangs without folds. The moment you add light, the folds will cast shadows and become obvious, which completely spoils the look of a brick wall.
  • They often wrinkle (especially the cheap ones), even when they say that they won’t, and ironing is not always possible, because of the material used.

I really wanted a few newborn and toddler sized sets arranged side by side for convenience. The more variety you offer in a photoshoot, the more a client spends on prints.

Plus, because toddlers could move between sets as they chose, it kept shoots hassle and tantrum free. Fun for the toddler, the parent and for me.

Sets laid out for newborn photoshoot
3 newborn sets I arranged ahead of my client’s arrival, showing the two DIY backdrops I made

Brick wall backdrop for photoshoots

The DIY backdrop I made ticked all the boxes and below I’ve listed the steps I took to make my really simple DIY photo wall backdrop – it’s more craft than DIY.

Of course it’s easier to build a smaller backdrop for photoshoots, but with this method you’re not restricted by size at all. Well, not unless you want to put the backdrop in your car to take to a photoshoot.

Newborn portrait with DIY photo backdrop
As you can see from this photo, you can’t tell that my DIY photo backdrop is just wallpaper on polystyrene and not an actual wall

What you need for a brick wall DIY photo backdrop

  • 1 x polystyrene insulation sheet, a.k.a foam board (at least 2 inches thick)
  • Wallpaper
  • 4 x L-shaped shelf brackets (large)
  • Duct tape
  • Glue (Craft glue or general purpose adhesive)
  • Small saw (although a breadknife also works)
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Marker

Polystyrene sheet for DIY photo backdrop

Step 1 – Cut foam board to size

Foam boards come in standard sizes, so you might not find the size you want. The most important thing is to get a really thick one, because this will help it to be more stable and durable.

After measuring and then drawing lines to cut along, cut the foam board to size using either a small saw or a sharp breadknife.

The foam board I bought was 8′ x 2′ and 2 inches thick, which worked out perfectly for my needs. I cut the length in half and stuck the sides together with glue and then duct tape to create a 4′ x 4′ square.

For rigidity I ran the tape all the way down the join down the front, across the bottom, up the back and over the top, back to my starting point. I then did the same width ways, so that I had a cross of tape, like ribbon around a gift.

Roll of brick wallpaper for DIY photo backdrop
Roll of brick effect wall wallpaper

Step 2 – Cut wallpaper to size

I find it best to allow the wallpaper to wrap around the sides to the back of the foam board so that the edges aren’t visible. It looks neater and protects the edges.

Don’t wrap the paper over the top and bottom edges.

Instead, make sure that the bottom edge lines up exactly with the bottom of the foam board and the top edge is ever so slightly (half an inch) higher than the foam board.

Measure and cut the wallpaper.

As the sheet of wallpaper is of course not as tall as your foam board, just like when papering a wall, make sure that the brick pattern lines up.

Step 3 – Fix wallpaper to foam board

Glue the wallpaper to the polystyrene board, making sure that you use a glue that won’t melt the polystyrene. Craft glue works well and doesn’t dry too quickly, which gives you time to shift the paper if you need to.

Apply liberally and evenly. If you apply it in occasional big blobs, the surface of the backdrop will be bumpy.

Tape down the wallpaper of the board edges on the back with duct tape to make it extra durable and prevent the paper from peeling.

Lie it face down on the floor and apply a weight to the back and leave to dry for about 30 minutes.

Simple L-shaped shelf brackets to support backdrop
Large L-shaped shelf brackets make great “feet” for foam board backdrops – easy, effective and cheap

Step 4 – Safety

Even though it’s super lightweight and wouldn’t hurt anyone if it fell, you still need a form of support for your polystyrene board.

This is the purpose of the L-shaped shelf brackets.

Fix bracket to polystyrene photo backdrop

Fix the brackets to the rear, left and right, of the backdrop for support. Glue and duct tape will work.

One part of the L is up against the backdrop and the other half acts as a foot on the ground.

To be even more certain of a DIY background not falling over during a photoshoot, place a weight on the foot part of each L bracket.

Fit shelf brackets to front and back of backdrop
Side view of foam board backdrop with large shelf brackets as “feet” back and front for support

For larger backgrounds where the bottom won’t be in shot, fit 2 sets of 2 brackets to the front and the back to sandwich the polystyrene sheet like bookends. One set on the left and one set on the right.

Leave a comment

If you have any questions about how to make a DIY photography backdrop, let us know in the comments.

Also, I love good news, so if my inexpensive backdrop ideas have helped you, or you have ideas to add, share that too.

5 thoughts on “DIY photo backdrop for portraits (rustic brick wall background)”

    • Thank you for your lovely comment, Margot! It was the first thing I saw when I fired up my computer today – great way to start the day. Wonderful to hear that The Lens Lounge has helped you!


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