In a recent YouTube video, I mentioned the metal sheet photo backdrops I've been using for months. Tired of lugging heavy wooden backdrops out every time I needed a scene change, I started hunting for a simpler solution, and discovered large galvanized steel sheets worked like a charm.
One large sheet, priced about $16/piece can be easily snipped into two with tin shears, roughed up with steel wool and painted with a combo of spray paint and metallic oxidizing paint to create stunning, totally original (totally gorgeous!) backdrops that rival those used by some of the hottest food photographers on Instagram.
Though there are dozens of different methods (I promise to share them all with you eventually!), I wanted to demonstrate one super-quick, simple-simple technique that will get you started with your own set of steel backdrops.
Tune in below as I show a throw-it-all-on, paint-it-all-fast, one-coat, kitchen-sink painting technique, which costs about $30 in materials and takes less than an hour from start to finish.
- 3'x4' Galvanized Steel Sheet, cut in half with tin shears (available in the plumbing/metalwork section of Home Depot or Lowes). You can also buy a 2'x3' sheet online here OR use an Aluminum Sheet.
- Extra Coarse Steel Wool
- Inexpensive Paint Brushes
- Bleach spray or water (I didn't really mention in the video why I use bleach spray. When looking for ways to create chemical reactions with the steel and metallic paint, I started playing with a bleach-water solution. Now I grab whatever I have in the house. NOTE: always work outdoors, in a well ventilated space. And I do 100% recommend wearing a mask and gloves)
- Brown Spray paint (I used Espresso)
- Blue Spray paint (I used Gloss Navy, Ocean Breeze and Turquoise)
- Modern Masters Oxidizing Metallic Paint (I used Bronze, but also recommend Copper)
- Modern Masters Aging Patina Solution (I used Blue, but also recommend green)
- Crystal clear spray-on varnish in matte
Whether you're making one sheet at a time, or knocking out a whole batch, here's the basic technique for this look.
- Cut a galvanized steel sheet to the desired size. (I prefer 2-3' x 4' sheets)
- Line the edges of the sheet with duct or electrical tape.
- Cover your work area with a plastic dropcloth or sheet.
- Spray a thick, heavy coat of dark brown (Espresso) paint on top of the steel sheet.
- Working quickly (you don't want the paint to dry!), spray your sheet lightly with a water (or water-bleach, or water-salt) solution and spray several uneven coats of blue on top, adding water between coats. (NOTE: Don't want blue? No problem! Try black, different colors of brown, bronze, etc. Let your imagination go wild!)
- Again, working quickly, pour about 1/2-1 cup of Modern Masters Bronze on top of the sheet, drizzle about 1/4-1/3 cup of Modern Masters Blue Patina solution into the bronze, then use a paint brush to quickly spread the paint in straight lines across your sheet.
- Spray lightly with water solution.
- Allow to dry in the sunshine.
- Once dry, steel wool to give it a rustic aged look, or coat again with paint until you love the way your background looks.
- Spray with a heavy layer of matte varnish. (FYI I do not recommend eating foods that have directly touched these backdrops.)
The Final Look
After a few minutes of painting and an hour of drying, I was ready to add this backdrop to my collection. Here's what this pretty kitty looks like in food shots.
Tried This Technique?
I would LOVE to see it! Upload a photo to Instagram with the hashtag #cheekykitchen. I'd love to show my Instafans your work! Are you following me over there? I give daily photo tips that you need in your life.
Got a Food Photography Question?
Shoot me an email! I'd love to address your burning questions in my next YouTube video!