What Fabric Is Best For Photo Backdrop (Getting The Backdrop Right For Your Photoshoot)

If you’re preparing for a photoshoot, you’ll need to select a good photo backdrop. The right backdrop can elevate your photos, drawing the right kind of attention to your subject. 

What Fabric Is Best For Photo Backdrop (Getting The Backdrop Right For Your Photoshoot)

Photo backdrops are available in lots of different textures, colors, and weights. This raises the question – what fabric is best for a photo backdrop? 

The answer varies based on the kind of photo you’re attempting to capture. The best backdrop for portrait photography will differ from the one that’s best for food photography. 

Still, some features mean some types of fabric work better than others. You’ll discover more about photo backdrop fabrics in this post, including other backdrop materials that you may want to use on your shoot. 

Photo Backdrop Fabrics

Fabric backdrops are very common in the photography world. They are available in several materials which all have their advantages and disadvantages. 

Choosing the best fabric backdrop for your photoshoot will depend on practicality.

For instance, if you plan on traveling with your photography kit, you’ll need a backdrop that’s portable, lightweight, and easy to set up. 

Here are some common fabric photo backdrop fabrics and their pros and cons to consider:


Canvas is a relatively dense, heavy fabric.

It used to be a popular backdrop, but as it’s thick and pricey, it’s become less popular in favor of muslin.

Despite this, a decent canvas backdrop should have a long lifespan, giving your shots a high-quality feel.

You can travel with canvas backdrops, but they wrinkle easily, so they work better for studio sessions. A few of these backdrops have delicate patterns on them.

These deliver a unique neutral background that doesn’t divert attention away from the subject. 


Muslin is another popular backdrop as it is relatively affordable, lightweight, and flexible. When hung flat, it can look like a solid background, but muslin does need to be pulled taut against a stand for the best appearance. 

You can find muslin available in many colors, patterns, and sizes. Muslin reflects light less than paper, so it’s easier for photographers to work with.

The fabric is also easy to fold and roll, so it’s a nice choice for anyone traveling between photography jobs. 

A drawback is that muslin needs ironing to remove wrinkles before you use it.

You can clean it if it gets dirty, but it will require a delicate, cold water setting. Despite this, muslin does have a longer lifespan, provided it is cared for properly. 

Overall, muslin’s durability, lightweight nature, and affordability make it one of the best fabrics you can use for photography backdrops. 


Velour is a woven material that’s often used for stage draping and theater curtains. Like other backdrop materials, velour comes in different weights, shades, and sizes, based on what it’s used for.

Though muslin and canvas are more popular fabric backdrops, velour has its place too. The material has an incredible characteristic that absorbs light from studio flashes. 

It’s a great fabric if you’d like a pitch-black background that won’t reflect any light from lighting tools or your camera’s flash.

Velour won’t leave any detail behind, so you don’t need to be concerned about light touching the backdrop. 

One drawback is that as velour is comparable to velvet, it can draw in hair and dust as time goes on. Fortunately, it isn’t that difficult to clean. You can dust velour off and use sticky tape to remove any stubborn spots. 

Other Types Of Backdrops

Vinyl backdrops are robust and can be used as a floor drop for large photoshoots, or a flat backdrop for flat-lay product shots. They can be cleaned easily with a damp cloth, so they’re nice for messy shoots, like cake smashes or food photography.

What Fabric Is Best For Photo Backdrop (Getting The Backdrop Right For Your Photoshoot) (1)

Vinyl backdrops can give off a slight shine when capturing darker backgrounds, so you’ll need to change the lighting when you’re using it. If you’d like to avoid this, poly paper, fabric, or matte plastic may be preferable. 

Furthermore, vinyl backdrops affect the kind of shots you can capture. They’re ideal for flat lay shots from overhead, but they’re harder to use vertically against a wall, as they need to be fixed to a rigid surface first. 

Poly Paper

Poly paper is an artificial, coated paper that is strong and hard to tear. It’s an affordable option that’s lighter than canvas and vinyl, so it doesn’t cost a lot to ship and send. 

Poly paper also limits the kind of photos you can take. They’re nice for flat-lay photos, but they’re difficult to use vertically, as a wall. This is because, like vinyl, poly paper needs to be fixed to a stiff surface with clamps first. 

Poly paper can be used as a flood drop, but you need to be careful to avoid folding or scratching it. Unlike vinyl, poly paper is hard to clean, so it’s not the best choice for cake smashes or messy shoots.


Replica surfaces imitate a genuine material, like slate, marble, or wood. Unlike poly paper and vinyl, replica surfaces are rigid, so they can stand upright without clamp assistance. 

These surfaces are an affordable, yet realistic option. For instance, if you want to recreate a high-quality kitchen photograph, you can use a tiled replica surface to act as a backsplash.

Place the surface behind your subject to create an illusion, then commence with the shoot. 

Replica surfaces are ideal for outside and inside use, as they are portable and can be rolled into a carrying case to make photoshoots simple.

They are made with strong, three-layer PVC material, which makes them easy to clean with a damp towel. 

Final Thoughts

Photography backdrops come in several fabrics and materials. The best one for you will depend on your photography needs. 

If you’re looking for a nice all round backdrop, muslin is a good choice. It’s lightweight, portable, and can be cleaned at home. 

However, if you need a background for a food photo session, you should skip fabric backdrops and opt for vinyl or replica surfaces. These can be wiped easily to remove any dirt or debris. 

We hope you enjoyed learning about different types of fabric photo backdrops!

Laura McNeill
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