a young girl's headshot by looking through shoulder

How to Choose the Best Background for Portraits: 13 Color | Style

Reading How to Choose the Best Background for Portraits: 13 Color | Style 9 minutes

When choosing the best background for portraits, color and style are both important factors to consider. The right background can help to make your subject stand out, while the wrong background can be distracting and take away from the overall impact of the image.

This article will give you some tips on how to choose the best photo backgrounds for your portrait. 

Which Style is the Best Background for Portraits?

There are many different styles of portrait backgrounds, from solid colors to patterns and even textured surfaces. The best background for portraits will depend on the overall look you are trying to achieve with your photo.

Keep in mind that the background should complement the subjects in the photo, not compete with them. With that being said, let's take a look at some of the most popular background styles for portraits:

1. Natural Background

a baby sitting on chair in front of a flower garden

Kate Secret Garden Backdrop for Photography Designed by Lisa Granden

A natural background can be a beautiful way to frame your subjects. Look for a location with pretty scenery, like a park or garden, or even a nice view of the city. The key is finding a spot with some nice color and texture in the background without being too busy.

You also want to make sure there is enough light to expose the photo properly. If it’s a sunny day, try to find a spot with shade, so the light isn’t too harsh.

2. Solid Color Backdrops

a pretty girl's portrait by holding flowers

Kate Hot Sale 5x7ft Solid Orange Cloth Backdrop Portrait Photography

The solid color background is a classic choice for a studio background, even iPhone selfies. It can be either a dark or light color, depending on the look you want to achieve. A dark background can be dramatic, while a light background can be airy and fresh.

You can try textured paper or fabric if you want to add a little texture to the background. Make sure the texture is subtle, so it doesn’t compete with the subjects in the photo.

3. Abstract Textured Backdrops

bohemian portrait of a woman holding dry plants in hands

Kate Abstract texture beige a little green color Maternity/family photo Backdrop

A textured backdrop is a great option if you want a more abstract look for your portrait. Choose a backdrop with many small details and swirls, like sand, feathers, or leaves. This will give your photo a very natural and organic look.

If you want to add some extra drama to your portrait or product photo, try adding a lighting in the photography studio. This can be a studio light fixture, a candle, or a flash unit.

4. Fine Art Backdrops

little girl holding a bunch of flower and standing in front of a flower background

Kate Fine Art Watercolors Green Florals Abstract Backdrop designed by Veronika Gant

These backdrops are recognizable by their painterly or dreamlike quality. Fine art backdrops often feature swirls of color, ethereal landscapes, or other dreamy details. They can add a touch of whimsy to your photos and are perfect for fairytale or fantasy-inspired shoots.

5. Boho Backdrops

a bohemian photo of a little girl palying with stuffed bear

Kate Summer Boho Bohemian Tapestry Warm Tone Backdrop Designed by Emetselch

Boho is short for bohemian and refers to a style influenced by the carefree, artistic lifestyle of the bohemians in the 19th century. Boho fashion is often characterized by flowing, colorful patterns and a mix of vintage and modern styles. Boho backdrops are backgrounds with a similar aesthetic and are often used in photo studios to create an artistic vibe.

Boho backdrops are often colorful and feature a mix of patterns and textures, such as floral prints, stripes, and abstract designs. They may also incorporate natural elements like plants or wood to create a more organic feel.

6. Bokeh Backdrops

a young girl's portrait with bokeh heart-shaped light
Kate Light Pink Love Heart Glitter Valentine's Day Backdrops for Photography

Bokeh means “blur,” and it’s used in photography to describe the aesthetically pleasing blur you get in the background of a photo when the subject is in focus. Blurred backgrounds usually have slightly visible patterns that make them even more eye-catching.

They’re a great way to add some interest and depth to a portrait without taking away from the subject.

7. Graffiti Wall Backdrops

 a girl standing in front of a graffiti tunnel

Kate Graffiti Wall Tunnel Building Backdrop For Photography

For an urban and modern look, try a graffiti wall backdrop. This style is perfect for a more edgy and stylish portrait on social media. The colorful and vibrant graffiti will add a unique touch to your photo, and the wall will contrast your subjects.

This type of grunge background is perfect for people who want to convey a sense of daring or rebelliousness. Just be sure the graffiti is not too graphic or offensive, as you don't want to make your subjects uncomfortable.

Which Color is Best for Portrait Backgrounds?

Your photography background color will determine the degree to which light is absorbed and reflected. This will affect the shadows and highlights in your portrait and the overall tone of your image.

Have a look at some of the different color options available and decide which will work best for your portrait:

8. Black Backdrop

a little girl's new year portrait with black background

Kate Hot Sale Solid Black Cloth Portrait Photography Backdrop

Black is perhaps one of the most widely used backdrops among professional photographers. A black background gives off a feeling of sophistication and can make your subjects pop in the photo.

If you want to add a feeling of mystery or drama to your portraits or headshots, black is the way to go. Be careful not to use too much black, as it can make the photo feel heavy and depressing. You can change the degree in photo editing, like Photoshop.

9. White Backdrop

a young girl's headshot by looking through shoulder

Kate Hot Sale 8x10ft Solid White Cloth Backdrop Portrait Photography

A white backdrop is perfect for a clean and polished look. This is a great choice if you want the focus to be on the subjects in the photo without any distractions.

A white background portrait will also make the subject pop, so it's a great choice if you want to add vibrancy to your portrait. For best results, ensure the white backdrop is evenly lit; otherwise, it may create unwanted shadows in the photo.

10. Green Backdrop

portrait of a black in white dress

Kate Dark Green Grey Black Texture Abstract Background Painted Backdrop

Green is a great color for portraits because it can create a natural and relaxed feeling. If you want to emphasize the natural beauty of your subjects, try a green backdrop.

This color is also perfect for outdoor portraits, as it will help your subjects blend in with their surroundings. The different shades of green can also create different moods in your photo. A lighter green will create a more cheerful feeling, while a darker green can be more mysterious.

11. Blue Backdrop

male business portrait

Kate Blue Abstract Backdrop for Photography

Blue is a very versatile color and can be used to create a variety of moods in your portrait. For a serene and calming look, try a light blue background. This will make your subjects stand out and give the photo a peaceful feel.

For a more energetic and lively portrait, try a brighter blue background. This will add excitement to the photo and make your subjects pop. And for a more dramatic look, try a dark blue background. This will create a very moody and intimate portrait.

12. Gray Backdrop

male sitting business portriat with suit

Kate Hot Sale 8x10ft Solid Grey Cloth Backdrop Portrait Photography

Gray is a great color for portrait backgrounds because it is neutral and versatile. It can create a calm and serene mood or a more serious and dramatic look.

If you want to emphasize the colors in your portrait, try using a gray background. The neutral color will make the colors in your photo pop, and the contrast will be very striking.

A light gray background can be very effective if you want to create a more mellow and relaxed mood. This color will add a bit of warmth to your photo, and the overall look will be very soft and dreamy.

13. Yellow Backdrop

man's causal standing photo in front of a yellow background

Kate Yellow Solid Photography Backdrop

A yellow background is a great choice if you are going for a happy and cheerful look. Yellow is a vibrant and eye-catching color, making your subjects pop in the photo.

Try pairing yellow with a complementary color, green or blue, to create a balanced and visually appealing portrait.

Bonus Tips

  • If you're unsure what color to choose, as beginners, start with a neutral color like white, black, or gray. You can always add some color with props or clothing.
  • If you want your subjects to stand out, choose a background color that will contrast with their clothing. For example, choose a light colored background if your subjects are wearing dark clothing.
  • Ensure your backdrop is clean before you start taking photos. A wrinkled or dirty muslin backdrop will ruin the look of your portrait.
  • If you're using a seamless paper backdrop, ensure it is taped down securely, so it doesn't curl up or move during your shoot.
  • Please take a few test shots before you start your portrait session to make sure the background looks the way you want it to.


Now that you know more about choosing the best background for portraits, put these tips into practice the next time you're in front of the camera. The right background can make all the difference in creating a stunning portrait.

With a little thought and planning, you can ensure that your portraits always have the perfect backdrop.

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