Black Background Photography: The Secret… is Velvet

I’m fascinated by black background photography.  Solid black backgrounds are so bold and beautiful, but they are rather difficult to achieve with amateur equipment.  I bought a number of (what I thought were) black placemats, only to be disappointed as they turned out grey and pale in photos.  PVC, polyester, cotton, felt, black paper – all of them go about 20 shades lighter when photographed.

This isn’t to say that off-black backgrounds aren’t beautiful in their own right, but if you need a pure black background, cotton and poster board aren’t going to cut it.

Enter velvet.


Velvet is lush, rich, and black – and it stays that way in photos.

The easiest place to get a sheet of velvet is your local fabric store.  Unfortunately, my 1-yard swatch of “premiere” velvet wasn’t going to come cheap.  My local JoAnn Fabrics wanted $30/yard for velvet cut straight from the bolt.  Fortunately, the remnant bin delivered a discounted almost-a-yard sized piece for $26.42 (plus several more rolls – always check the remnants!!).  Still, this is hardly a steal, but my 40% off mobile coupon took the total price for that almost-yard of velvet to $14. That’s much better.

Read more about JoAnn mobile coupons here.

Note: Be sure to get “premiere” velvet, not stretch velvet or any of the other lower priced “velvets”. They’re not as dense and I can’t vouch for their photographic results.  If you need a black background, go for the good velvet, it’s worth it and you’ll get a lot of use out of it.


So, how does the black velvet look in photos?

black background photography cotton vs velvet

To be fair, I love the result on the left. But if solid black is what you need, velvet is the way to go.

black background photography velvet

It’s like it’s in space!

Hello there! I'm Mandi, a lifelong crafter with a passion for helping others use technology. DIYCraftPhotography shows artisans how to photograph and publicize their handmade goodies. Thank you for visiting!

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