I have seen the topic of background colours come up online time and time again, mainly in the context of telling people that they should always use a white background, so I thought I would address my philosophy on it because I usually don't use a white one.The industry standard for print photography is a white background, but there are people in the industry who don't always use it. I personally don't like a white background as I find it stark and clinical and that is not the aesthetic that I am going for with my work. I don't care so much when other people use it, though. My work has much emotion in it and I want my background to be warm and inviting while bringing the focus of the viewer onto my art. This is why I normally use shades of grey. Black is also stark, but I don't find it as emotionless as white.
Take these two sets of collaged pictures for example. The one with the white background is nice, albeit somewhat stark and any of the pictures in it would be totally appropriate for a standard magazine or other types of print media. The reason white backgrounds are so commonly used for print media is that they are the simplest to cut around to position with other text and pictures in a layout. The white also displays seamlessly in most digital media as the industry standard is a white background and black text. When I adjusted the white balance on the pictures, it darkened the charoite and also brought the silver and copper closer together in tone. I don't mind the symmetry of tones, but the fact that it was nearly impossible to get the charoite the colour it looks like in person really bothered me. Some of this is also because of my not using professional editing software and a DSLR camera. I use my Sony Xperia Z5 because it's what I have.
The grey background warms up the colours. If I had taken the pictures of the charoite with the ribbon necklace on a white background the colours of the ribbon would stand out more than they do, like how the red does in the pictures with the bloodstone on white. It gives a cohesive feel to all of the colours and I don't battle the colour balance near the same with grey as I do with white. As I use reflected daylight to diffuse the light and not a proper studio lighting setup, I am constantly having to work around the fact that the caste of the light changes as I'm taking pictures, so a proper studio setup would be ideal; I work with what I have at the moment. I find it fairly easy to oversaturate silver with the grey background, though.
In the pictures of the bloodstone, I was unable to get a good shot without the major reflection of light on the grey background and was only slightly more successful on the white background. This is the hazard of an excellent polish on the stone. ;) On the grey background, the gold of the bloodstone is more prominent than the green and that is more true to how this stone looks in my hand.
Nowadays I do grey gradient backgrounds almost exclusively to give my work an inviting warmth that I cannot achieve with white or black. The gradient helps make the details pop while not overpowering the piece. I also blur the background as I use a piece of bristol board and the texture of the paper can distract the eye so for a seamless visual flow I do a major blur on the background and a minor blur on whatever prop I am using. The final picture gives an example of this blurring and of the gradient effect.
Thanks for read - B