How to Make a Simple Background or Reflector for your Home Photo Studio

Renting out a space for a photo studio can be costly and is the main reason that many photographers choose to set up their own studio inside their home. But just because your studio is in your home doesn’t mean you can skimp on good photography gear. However, good photographer gear doesn’t have to be expensive either. In this tutorial, photographer Tiffany Angeles shows how to make a simple background/reflector out of supplies you can buy at your local hardware store:

The polystyrene Tiffany uses is a great material for doubling as both a background(once painted) and a reflector, and the total cost comes to about $30. A similar sized professional reflector could cost you hundreds! Since it’s a rigid board, you also have the versatility of changing the background by either painting it a different color or draping some kind of cloth material over it for a textured look.

home made styrofoam background

Polystyrene can be found in your local big hardware store

Use shelf brackets and some 2x4's to make a sturdy platform for your background/reflector

Use shelf brackets and some 2×4’s to make a sturdy platform for your background/reflector

The only real downside here is the size. Tiffany recommends an 8’x4′ piece of polystyrene which is perfect for most portrait shots, but may not fit in your house or apartment. Moving it around would be no easy task either. But this is simply a recommended size. You could easily cut the board down to a size that’s more appropriate for you and your needs.

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8 responses to “How to Make a Simple Background or Reflector for your Home Photo Studio”

  1. This is so weird. Sunday I went to my local wickes and bought an 8×4 piece of hard board for my vinyl as I only have carpeted rooms in my house. I love the polystyrene idea though as its so light. I have recently purchased some wallpaper too to tape to my blank wall instead of paying out for expensive printed vinyl for my wall.

  2. Brian says:

    Light,cheap ,but very fragile.

  3. Mihaela Hinayon says:

    Is there a reason why 8×4 is the recommended size?

  4. Claude says:

    4X8 it is the product is made that size. They don’t sell ex. 6×8 or 2×8. Only 4×8 but very easy to cut. The smaller piece could be used at small reflector. For long time I used white bed sheet with good success

  5. Brian in Whitby says:

    Potentially DANGEROUS!

    Polystyrene depolymerizes when heated into extremely toxic styrene gas. According to fire codes, polystyrene must be enclosed so that in a fire, the gas is kept out of the living quarter. There are alternatives such as hardboard with a white finish that are much safer.

  6. Claude says:

    Oups! Correction: polystyrene is also sold in 2′ x 8′

  7. Mihaela Hinayon says:

    I’m thinking about using this in a small area in my living room so ideally I would want it to be as small as possible. Maybe a couple of 2’x8’s would do it?

  8. Michael says:

    For a backdrop, trimming off a foot or so from the top would be fine. For a reflector, going down to 4-5 feet should be okay and in that case a 2 foot wide sheet would work (not too top heavy where a 2×8 sheet would be a problem).

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