DIY Tutorial: Make Your Own Photo Light Box

I built as photo light box last night! I have to say that I’m pretty excited about it.

As I journey into this thing called starting an Etsy shop, I’ve been immersing myself in learning about product photography to try to improve my skills (if you could call them that… Probably not). Given that I LOVE documenting memories, I almost always have some kind of camera on-hand, so the sheer volume of photos I take usually produces at least one “good” (to me) photo from the 25 or so I’ll take in one evening, but even then, results are not guaranteed.

Couple my lack of certified photo skills with the poor light in our apartment, and you’ve got a frustrated me trying to take flower photos every evening. A light box seemed like the perfect answer to taking better shots even after a long day’s work.

This project only took me about an hour excluding shopping time… which usually takes me forever, given the distraction that is the craft aisle, obviously. The total cost of the project for me was about $30.

DIY photo light box from BE paperie

What You’ll Need:

  • A cardboard box – mine was on the smaller side. Adjust according to what you’re planning to photograph.
  • Masking tape, duct tape, clear tape… any kind of strong tape will do.
  • White fabric (the rumor is that tissue paper will work as well, but I wanted something I wouldn’t have to re-do due to tearing). One yard of it will do.
  • Three clip-on desk lamps (I got mine for around $5 each at Wal-Mart).
  • X-acto knife
  • Three 100-watt daylight bulbs
  • Something pretty or something that looks polished for the backdrop and “floor” of the lightbox once it’s finished. I used white poster board, which you’ll see below.

BE paperie photo light box tutorial

Step 1: Tape the bottom side ONLY of your box securely.

BE paperie photo light box tutorial

Step 2:  Cut three rectangles from the three sides of your box, NOT from the top or the bottom of the box. Leave roughly 2-3 inches around all of the sides. Whichever side you leave uncut is going to become your stage background.

This doesn’t have to be perfect (my cuts clearly were not). In the spirit of independence, I did all of the box cutting myself, but be very careful as you do this step, as the box will become more and more flimsy as you go on.

BE paperie DIY photo light box tutorial BE paperie DIY photo light box tutorial

Step 3: Using your something white (I opted for a yard of white fabric I bought for $2.50), cover the rectangles you’ve just made, leaving the top of your box uncovered, as you’ll need that open to be able to stage items.

I did this the lazy girl way and literally just draped and taped my fabric around the box, but you could also cut individual segments for each rectangle if you wanted more precision. You could also cut the flaps off of the box if they’re going to be a pain to work around, I just didn’t find it necessary.

Step 4: I cut a slit in the back of my box, using the tutorial from Oh She Glows. That way, I can drop whatever I’m using as my stage through the slit instead of having to hang anything for the stage. I did attempt said hanging at first, but it did not go well.

BE paperie DIY photo light box tutorial

Step 5: Create your stage. Like I said, I ended up finding that the best solution for me on this was to cut a piece of poster board to size and slide it through the back slit. Err, ignore how that sounds!

You could also try creating the effect of both a back wall and a floor if you wanted a certain effect in your photos, but I wanted to start with plain white for now.

Step 6: Last, add your lights! One goes above the top panel, and the other two go on the left and right sides.

BE paperie DIY photo light box tutorial

Though not the most beautiful thing I’ve ever created, I’m really happy with how my light box is functioning. This weekend, I’ll probably experiment with adding the aforementioned floor and back wall effects, but this will do for now!

BE paperie DIY photo light box tutorial