Introduction: Photography Light Box

Picture of Photography Light Box

Photography Light Box to take pictures of small to medium items.

:: Parts ::
Large cardboard box (thicker box will hold up to the abuse of cutting and working on it)
Several yards of white cloth (I got 3 yards)
Wide/Think Double stick tape (I used Shurtape carpet tape)
Thin double stick tape.
[2] thin poster boards
[3] Reflective lights (I got mine for $5 at Job Lot {Local discount store})
[3] Light Bulb (I am using standard 100 watt bulbs)

:: Tools ::
Sharp Knife (I used a heavy duty box cutter)
Writing implement
Straight Edge (I used a a large shelf)

Give me your feedback and Please don't be one of those people who says, "there are already Instructables for light boxes." I know there are and sadly I did not get inspiration from Instructables. I love what trebuchet03 said, "I personally think it's better to have each variant in separate instructables - -and link between them ;)"

:: UPDATE :: I mentioned before that I was going to make a frame for this. Here is the link to my new Light Frame

:: THANKS :: Thanks to Peter at for publishing this Instructable to his photography site

Step 1: Preping the Box

Picture of Preping the Box

To allow light to enter all sides you will need to cut open three sides of the box. GO from the sides and leave the top and the bottom the way they are.

[Pic 1] :: Here is the box I used. It is a large heavy duty printer box.

[Pic 2] :: From all four corners measure in 1.5 inches and make a cross hair.

[Pic3] :: Using a straight edge line up the cross hairs on each corner and draw a line.

[Pic4] :: The completed lines on one side. Continue this on 3 sides. I cut out the sides that had the handles

[Pic5] :: Cut the box on the lines. I used the straight edge to cut. This works well when cutting against the grain of the cardboard. (warning :: as you are cutting the second and third side try not to push to hard. You do not want to crush the box.)

[Pic6] :: Completed cut box.

NOTES :: After I was almost finished with the light box I decided to cut off three of the box flaps. I only kept the bottom one. So lay the box with the uncut side down and remove the Left, Right and Top flaps. You will see what I mean in the last couple of images.

Step 2: Taping the Sides of the Box for the Cloth

Picture of Taping the Sides of the Box for the Cloth

As you can see in the picture, Tape inside the opening. This is where I used the Heavy Duty Carpet tape.

Step 3: Putting in the Cloth

Picture of Putting in the Cloth

Cut the cloth to the to the size of the inside of the box. I cut it an extra 1 to 2 inches just to be safe.

[Pic 1] :: remove the cover on the double stick tape. When you put in the cloth pull it as tight as you can. Obviously you don't want it loose or have any wrinkles. I had wrapped some of the covering from the double stick tape and rubbed it over the cloth to ensure the cloth was stuck in place. after I put in each side, I trimmed the excess cloth.

[Pic2] :: Here you see the cloth in the box and trimmed

Step 4: Preping & Inserting the Poster Board

Picture of Preping & Inserting the Poster Board

This step is the backdrop for the light box

[pic1] :: Measure the inside width of the box and cut the 2 poster boards. Do not worry about the length of the poster board as you want it to over hang outside the box.(I used the straight edge to ensure I get a straight line.)

[Pic2] :: Place the wide double stick tape on the bottom of the box. One in the far back of the box and one at the opening of the box.

[Pic3] :: Place one of the poster boards flush with the back of the box.

[Pic4] :: Place the wide double stick tape on the upper rear edge inside the box.

[Pic5] :: Using the thin double stick tape. Place it approximately 1/4 the way from the back. this measure is up to your interpretation. It should produce a slight slope in the back. You don't want it to come out to far, you don't want to lose to much space.

[Pics6] :: Place the other poster board flush with the top tape and then the bottom.

Step 5: Finale Product

Picture of Finale Product

Here is the Light Box finished.

Place the 3 lights about a foot from each side that has cloth. Don't get to close, it should not touch the cloth (FIRE HAZARD YOU KNOW). Place the item in inside and take some pictures. HAVE FUN.

Give me you feedback and Please don't be one of those people who says, "there are already Instructables for light boxes." I know there are and sadly I did not get inspiration from Instructables. I love what trebuchet03 said, "I personally think it's better to have each variant in separate instructables - -and link between them ;)"

I might be making a frame for the lights. I have some spare PVC pipe laying around and all I will need to get is some connectors.

:: UPDATE :: I mentioned before that I was going to make a frame for this. Here is the link to my new Light Frame

Step 6: Light Box in Use

Picture of Light Box in Use

:: UPDATE ::

The 4 images below are of it in use. From here I would clean up the images and remove all the lines, but that is the easy part.


CoolStuffMachine (author)2016-07-20

Can you be more specific on the type of cloth you are using? I have seen light boxes that used drafting paper or some frosted paper? Beyond durability, doesn't it block out more light?

I had made one before, and I used vellum. I have some larger sheets of mylar around and might try using it, since I have no other use for it. It is slightly yellowish, though, so I might end up going to buy a roll of vellum.

lettuce951 made it! (author)2017-03-05

First of all, great job on the tutorial! I have seen a lot of these posted around the internet. However, I liked this tutorial the best. I made some modifications and came across some things that may help others. On mine, instead of having the fabric on the inside, I wrapped 1 long piece on the outside. Mine was constructed for about 24 hours before a vagrant cat pounced on it and crushed the whole thing. During construction I had noticed that the edges of the box were weak in some areas, and the feline stress test validated that. Instead of making another one(carefully cutting the cardboard was a pain.) I ran to Home Depot and bought four 89 cent yard sticks they have in the paint department. I cut them down a miter saw and taped them around the affected areas to reinforce them, and now the whole thing is much stronger.

Side Note: If you have cats that will have access to your photo box maybe flipping your box over(while not in use) so that the full cardboard side is on the top may save you some heart ache!

Ben DangerH (author)2017-02-13

Wow, I love how simple this is, I thought it might be a bit advanced for me but i know I can do this. I love how the cloth difusses the light from all diretions and the use of carpet tape I never would have thought of :)

tekjock (author)Ben DangerH2017-02-13

I got the idea from some Web site years ago. Made some modifications myself. One thing I wish I had done differently is the back drop. I user thin white poster sized sheets. So the lines and shadows on the side would showork in some photos

diymontreal (author)2016-09-01

Thank you, I have been looking for an affordable way to take better pictures for my DIY blog. Perhaps I'll make a bigger one so I don't get the box edges in the shot.

DIY Montreal |

tekjock (author)diymontreal2016-09-01

I just use the stuff that I had around the house.the fabric large white paper and if he's of the hold it all together I purchased. The Box we got it work. The light ring that is linked to in this article was made from an old store bought basketball game. But obviously could use PVC pipe to make it bigger.

SarahB175 (author)tekjock2016-09-23

IF you want to get fancy and shape your PVC it will shape easily with a cheap heat gun from a hardware store. :) By the way this tutorial is great. I need to make this before sunday for a product shoot I am doing for a friend. :)

nahidsaleem1 (author)2016-04-05

I was looking for a similar setup for a product shoot.

nahidsaleem1 (author)2016-04-05

I was looking for a similar setup for a product shoot.

laith mohamed (author)2016-02-16

Wowwwww fantastic

longinus876 (author)2016-02-11

I like this very much. This is how every professional would do it. We called the curved cardboard part a "sweep table" in the business. We could roll one up to the camera and light it just like you did.

Very good job.

Dan J Addlington-Lee (author)2016-01-27

Brilliant, I am going to build one in my workshop.......

Thanks. Im juat stunned i am still getting view and comments.

ku5e (author)2016-01-26

With a little work here's what can be done.

Ninzerbean (author)ku5e2016-01-27


samgsp made it! (author)2016-01-26

My light box made 2 year ago :-)

kmartin45 (author)2016-01-26

I've been looking at box variations and am getting ready to build or purchase a better box. A couple of comments on lighting. As a couple of people have noted, either a "daylight" or even "bright white" bulb will give you truer colors and require less adjustment later. "Soft white" bulbs introduce quite a lot of yellow. Yes, brighter is good, but brighter is obviously hotter, so personally I'd recommend very bright CFLs, especially if you decide to use paper as a light diffuser. Also, interfacing for fabric diffuses light well and comes in different weights; it's often cheaper than fabric.

ku5e (author)2016-01-26

I would add a second light from above pointed behind the objective. This way you would minimize the shadow cast behind the object, making the extraction easier and cleaner. Otherwise a great instructable! Thank you.

gferland (author)2016-01-26

Since all I do is photograph Greeting Cards, I use only 4-12" x 12" whisper white card stock to make an open box and photograph. Works like a charm!!!

SAMP17 (author)2016-01-26

I love building stuff as the rest of dont get me wrong when i say you can get better box and lights with a camera stand for $9.95 on ebay..."photography box".....but your will work just as good

aahwaan (author)2015-08-15

I liked your light box and would sure try to make one like this. I would like to know, if we can use paper instead of cloth on the sides ? If we use thin paper or chart paper, will there be any problem ?

Annepi (author)2015-04-27

I think this is going to be perfect for taking photography of my bath and body products to put online. Thank you for this, this is just what I needed

Scatershot (author)2015-01-02

I'm thinking of trying this but I'm going to paint the inside of the box white first to minimize the lines and use the same paper on the sides as well as the middle sheet. This should help keep the white all the same shade and make cleaning the image even easier. Great instructable!

tekjock (author)Scatershot2015-01-03

Thanks, just wish i still had it. Lost that to some flood damage years ago

michele_la made it! (author)2014-02-22

I love this box! It was super easy to make and works exceptionally well. I get tons of compliments on my jewelry photos since I started using it. Here are more photos:

You can totally see the transition from "before box" to "after box".

oakironworker (author)2012-12-15

thanks for the setup
this guy has gerat ideas for your model photos

nipsip (author)2009-11-18

can you see the seam where the two sheets of posterboard are joined in any of your photos?

tekjock (author)nipsip2009-11-18

Alas ... you can ... I have been thinking of covering it with a thicker cloth then I used on the sides so you dont see the seem.

nipsip (author)tekjock2009-11-19

Another thought!

Get a piece of vinyl flooring, reverse it and paint the backside a matte white. Then if it gets dirty, you can touch it up.

You can cut it to any length or width you want.

nipsip (author)tekjock2009-11-19

You might want to consider cutting a white plastic tablecloth to fit. I don't think it is shiny but matte.

Take a look.

jj37 (author)2009-06-16

is there any way to soften the shadows under the objects without adding much cost to this project?

nipsip (author)jj372009-11-19

Couple of ideas.

Use a piece of white foamboard angled below the object to reflect light upward. Probably need a clamp and stand.

You also might want to try the piece of foamboard inside the box. Move it around until you get the desired effect.

Cut out the bottom of the box and place the box on a piece of white translucent plexiglass between two saw horses and light from below.

tekjock (author)jj372009-06-16

hmmmm .... One thought is a foreground light. Place an other light below the camera.

WendiG (author)2009-05-14

Have you tried this outside in good natural light? That is supposed to work well too-this looks easy enough, I'll let you know when I've attempted it-in the process of moving so lots of boxes to experiment on!

tekjock (author)WendiG2009-05-14

never thought of that ... I will have to give that a try

A_Str8 (author)2009-05-04

I just finished making mine and taking some test shots. i didn't have any large paper around for a seamless background, but otherwise it works great.

Test shots and a picture of the box are here: Flickr

tekjock (author)A_Str82009-05-05

that looks great. I might do that when the bottom and back. I hate having to clean up my pics of that line. Im glad my instructable helped you.

tyshef (author)2009-04-04

I am gonna try this, but I am gonna make one change and try to give the white background solid construction. otherwise very good!

tekjock (author)tyshef2009-04-05

Also ... if you do PLEASE post pics, I would love to see it. And thanks for wanting to make one based on my Instructable. OR ... If you do something different then what I did, post your own Inscrutable.

tekjock (author)tyshef2009-04-04

yea ... the dark lines on the side. I might try to cover them up. I was not very concerned as most of what I take pics of I will be cleaning it up in photoshop.

davidkimmel (author)2009-04-04

I don't suppose energy efficiency is a big deal here but the fire hazard situation could be improved upon by using 100 watt equivalent CFLs. Not only are they cooler in degrees F, choosing "Daylight" spectrum will provide better color balance in the final photo (degrees K).

I would actually suggest the opposite. Bigger, and brighter lights are always better. They allow you more flexibility. PS: Here's a picture from my iPod speaker project taken in my lightbox...

More light can certainly be better and CFLs come in greater levels of brightness or one could even add more CFLs. I kinda stole the idea from a photo page where a fella use five CFLs as the source in a diffused light box.

That is, of course, not to say that bigger (150 W equiv.) and brigher (more CFLs) wouldn't have a positive effect.

tekjock (author)davidkimmel2009-04-04

I was planing on trying those, going with softer light

ve2vfd (author)2009-04-03

Nice lightbox! I love simple and efficient photography articles. You may want to add that a builder would want all the lights to be the same type (tungsten, fluorescent, halogen...) and to not forget to ajust the cameras white balance to avoid funky colours.

MikeTheMaker (author)2009-04-03

It looks very good--I tried a variation that was too flimsy (the sides caved in--and it used paper for the walls). I'll watch for the next big box that comes in and try this!

PKM (author)2009-04-03

That looks like a nice simple build. As well as the usual "pretty product on a white background" thing, you can have some fun using a completely black background and underexposing, possibly with only one of the side lights turned on and no top light.

I, and possibly the rest of the photographers, want to see your shots! Just because nobody asked, here are a couple of mine, and here are three I did of a friend's Ames Orkshop models.

tekjock (author)PKM2009-04-03

I have a bunch of shots I have taken using my light box. I will be putting them on Flickr later and I will post them here later. thanks for the comment .

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