Best Backdrops For Burns

For many people, January is a somewhat austere month. The Christmas bunting has come down, the parties are over, the credit card bills have landed with a heavy thud on the doormat and the weather is cold.

However, while January can seem like a month without fun after all the jollity of the festive season, this is not the case for Scots, who can look forward to Burns Night on January 25th.

The same applies when it comes to food. Christmas provides any number of opportunities for food photography, with traditional fayre such as the turkey and roast potatoes, the Christmas pudding and a plate of mince pies.

For most, January would exclude such things, unless one is going on a diet and feels a desperate urge to provide a photographic backdrop to a salad. However, for those celebrating Scotland’s national poet, the traditional haggis, neeps (mashed swedes) and tatties (mashed potatoes) of the Burns Supper take centre stage.

Burns lived his short life in the latter half of the 18th century, at a time when Scotland had been absorbed into the Union, some forms of Scottish culture - especially the Highland element - had been suppressed after the crushing of the Jacobites. Though a Lowlander and not a Highlander - his poems were in Scots dialect, not Gaelic - He represents a time of Scottish cultural renaissance.

For that reason, the backdrop to a Burns supper of haggis, neeps and tatties must include some archetypal Scottish things. Bagpipes and tartan are a must, and ideally there should be something directly associated with Burns, such as a picture of the man or a book of his poems.

You may also consider further Scottish elements on photo backdrop boards, such as images of Highland mountain scenery or famous castles such as Edinburgh or Eilian Donan. You could also add other props.

Whisky is a good one as a wee dram goes well with the Burns supper, and if that is not age-appropriate for the audience that will view the photo, Irn Bru is a great alternative. You might also add images of a ceilidh, as this traditional dance often accompanies a Burns supper.

However, it is important to be careful about adding ‘Scottish’ things that may not quite fit. For instance, if the picture includes items linked to other literature connected with Scotland, that would cause confusion. Examples would include the works of other famous Scottish authors, or even Shakespeare, whose memorable play MacBeth is entertaining, but historically very inaccurate.

Because tartan is likely to feature, the backdrop will never be about a single colour, but rather a combination of them. While there is a huge array of tartan designs - some of them created outside Scotland by those of Scottish ancestry or fellow Celts - the most traditional ones contain a lot of red, so this, combined with other colours, should provide a varicoloured backdrop.

However, the key element is not about colours; it’s all about creating a truly Scottish scene to celebrate one of the country’s most venerated people. 

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