Introduction: How to Make an Easy and Cheap Light Box for Photography

About: Inventor and Emergency Doctor.

I found myself needing a lightbox at short notice, without any time to shop for supplies. I needed a great shot of a glass of wine for my last Instructable and so needed to make an easy and cheap light box for photography. I made one in only 2 minutes, using items I already had lying around so thought I would share it with you as an Instructable.

Light boxes are useful when you want a showcase photograph of a discrete scenario without a background in order to highlight an object, for example in food or product photography. It creates ambient, diffuse light around the item, without shadows.

I used one long sheet of paper here which created the effect I wanted; if you need more diffusion you could hang paper or white cloth either side of the object. Adding more lights has a similar effect. You might need to experiment to get the effect you are looking for.

Time; 2 minutes


  • Roll of lining paper or the back of patterned wallpaper. A white sheet is a reasonable alternative but it can be difficult to hang smoothly

Sticky tape (masking is best but any will do if you are sticking to a non-precious surface)

One or more angle poise lamps

Step 1: Choose a Site

Find a site at waist height where you have a few square feet of space, power and a vertical surface behind where you can tape the paper. You will need plenty of room and space for a tripod, if you are using one.

Step 2: Unroll the Wallpaper and Tape It to the Wall

Simply unroll the wallpaper and tape it to the wall. Alternatively you can fold the top of the paper over and push it down the back of a door. I used gaffer tape as the kitchen needs painting anyway. Place the item you want to photograph on the paper and position the angle poise in front of it, so that it is out of shot. As the wine and glass is translucent I got away with just one light source but if you are photographing something tall and opaque, like a ceramic vase you may need more than one light source, or a diffuser in order to reduce and control the shadows.

Start with the object in the middle and try moving it around for different effects.

Try moving the light source around to reduce reflection and maximise or minimise the effect of shadows, depending on the style you want. If you use more than one light source, try positioning them either side of the object. Avoid direct sunlight as this can reduce contrast and wash out colours.