8 Creative Ways to Get a Black Background for Your Photography

8 Creative Ways to Get a Black Background for Your Photography

February 10, 2023

In many genres of photography, a black background can be an essential element. It can provide contrast and depth and make your subject stand out more clearly. However, getting a perfect black background can be challenging. There are a few creative ways to achieve this.

In this article, we will discuss some creative ways to get a black background in photography and a step-by-step tutorial to achieve a perfect black background in your photos.

8 Ways to Get a Black Background in Photography

1. Use a Light Tent

A light tent is a small, portable setup that can control the lighting in your scene and achieve a black background.

lighting setup in studio

Photo by Pradit.Ph on shutterstock

To use a light tent, place your subject inside the tent and use lights to illuminate the subject. The tent's walls will absorb ambient light and prevent it from affecting your background. Make sure to position the lights, so they are aimed directly at the subject and don't cast any light on the tent's walls.

2. Shoot in a Dark Room

Shooting in a dark room allows you to control the lighting in your scene and eliminate any ambient light that might cause a gray background.

Here, you will need to set up your subject in a room with minimal lighting. You can then use external lights to illuminate your subject and achieve a black background.

It's important to control light spills and avoid reflections by using light modifiers such as flags or barn doors.

3. Use Solid Black Background

father and kids taking photo in black room

Kate Solid Black Grey Cloth Portrait Photography Backdrop

A solid black background is the most straightforward way to achieve a black background in photography. This can be achieved using a large black fabric or foam board.

To use a solid black background,

  1. Place the fabric or foam board behind your subject and position your camera so that the black background is in the frame.
  2. Make sure the background is as close to your subject as possible to prevent light from spilling onto it and causing reflections or shadows.

4. Utilize Post-processing Techniques

Post-processing techniques can change the background of a photo from gray to black after it has been taken.

To change the background of a photo to black during post-processing, you can use software such as Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom.

fire in dark

Photo by Jacob Kiesow on Unsplash

The exact steps will depend on the software, but you can use the Select and Mask tool, the Clone Stamp tool, or the Brush tool to select the background and change its color to black. You can also adjust the exposure and brightness of the background to make it as dark as possible.

5. Shooting Outdoors at Night

Shooting outdoors at night with a well-lit subject can create a black background if the background is far enough away and not illuminated by any street lights or other light sources.

  1. Find a location with a dark background and set up your lighting to illuminate your subject.
  2. Make sure your camera settings are appropriate for low-light shooting, such as a fast shutter speed and high ISO.
  3. Take the photo with the subject positioned, so the background is as far away as possible and not lit by any other sources.

6. Shooting in a Studio with Controlled Lighting

studio lights

Photo by Boule on shutterstock

This eliminates any unwanted background distractions and creates a pure black background.

You can use studio lights to illuminate your subject and control the lighting of the background. By positioning the lights, so they don't spill onto the background, you can keep it dark and create a black background.

7. Using Flags

Flags are black or opaque panels used in photography to block light and control the lighting of the scene.

  1. Position the flags around your subject to block any light from hitting the background and keep it dark.
  2. You can use multiple flags to block light from different angles and create a clean and pure black background.
  3. The flags should be positioned as close to the subject as possible to prevent light spill onto the background.

8. Exposure Compensation

man's portrait with black background

Photo by Aatik Tasneem on Unsplash

Exposure compensation allows you to adjust the camera's exposure settings when shooting in auto mode or when you want to fine-tune the exposure in manual mode.

You can access the exposure compensation feature in most cameras through the menu or a dedicated button on the camera body. You can use the exposure compensation dial or control to adjust the exposure up or down by a specified amount, measured in stops.

For example, you can increase the exposure by one stop to make the photo brighter or decrease it by one stop to make the photo darker. When shooting with a black background, you may want to use negative exposure compensation to darken the background further.

9. Switch to Spot Metering

man sitting in the light shooting through the room

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

Most cameras have a spot metering mode, which allows you to select a very small area of the scene to the meter. It is useful in situations where the exposure of a particular part of the scene is critical, such as when you want to expose the subject and maintain a black background.

To use spot metering,

  1. Select the spot metering mode on your camera, then point your camera at the subject and take a meter reading.
  2. The camera will adjust the exposure settings based on the brightness of the area you selected.  
  3. If you want a black background, you can take a spot meter reading off the background to ensure it is as dark as desired.

Note: When using spot metering, it's important to be mindful of the brightness levels in the scene, as the camera will adjust the exposure based on the spot meter reading, which may not be representative of the overall scene. It's best to experiment and adjust the exposure compensation accordingly to achieve the desired result.

Bonus: Photoshop Tutorial to Create a Black Background

 Here is a step-by-step tutorial to help create a black background for this image.

Step 1: Create a Copy of the Background

 Tutorial to Create a Black Background in Photoshop

To create a copy of the background, drag it down to the plus sign at the bottom right of the screen. This will duplicate the background, allowing you to make changes or edits.

Step 2: Click on the Little Lasso Tool

 Tutorial to Create a Black Background in Photoshop

Click on the little lasso tool, and using it, select the baby in the image by tracing around it on one of its sides. To ensure that the entire baby is visible, it may be necessary to zoom out.

Step 3: Press Shift Key to Continue with Your Selection

 Tutorial to Create a Black Background in Photoshop

To create a multiple selection, press and hold the shift key. This will allow you to add to your selection without making a perfect selection. Continue tracing around the image until the entire figure is highlighted.

Step 4: Select All Objects in the Background

  Tutorial to Create a Black Background in Photoshop

Select all objects in the background by clicking 'Select' and then 'Inverse.'

Step 5: Soften the Edges of the Image

 Tutorial to Create a Black Background in Photoshop

To soften the edges of the image, select 'Modify' and then select 'Feather.' Increase the feathering until the percentage is 100%, and click 'Okay' to apply the effect.

Step 6: Adjust the Curves Graph

 Tutorial to Create a Black Background in Photoshop

Go to the Actions palette in the bottom right corner of the screen and select the Curves tab. Adjust the Curves graph to the bottom of the range to make all tones of the background black.

Step 7: Clean up the Section

 Tutorial to Create a Black Background in Photoshop

Go ahead and clean up the selection by eliminating any unnecessary sections that may have been caused by feathering.

Utilize a brush with a 50% hardness to target these areas with the black color, ensuring that the selection is as accurate as possible.

Step 8: Crop the Baby

 Tutorial to Create a Black Background in Photoshop

Crop the baby by going to the 'Image' menu and selecting 'Crop.' This will crop the image to the desired size and shape, reducing the visible background area.

Tutorial Image Credit: youtube.com


A black background is a great way to make your photographs stand out and give them a professional look.

Knowing some creative ways to get a black background for your photography, you can now easily create stunning and eye-catching photographs.

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