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Do you want to understand your camera and take great photos today?

Yes Please

Ever wondered how those great product shots you see in catalogues or online stores are photographed? We have the answer.

They are usually photographed inside an expensive light box.

In this article, we will show you three different ways how to make a DIY light box for photography.

You’ll be using inexpensive re-purposed materials and still get great looking images.

1. Ultra Cheap DIY Light Box with Available Light

This DIY lightbox will take about 15 minutes of your time, using only a few materials you probably already have around the house.

You will need:

  • 1 Medium card box
  • 2 Sheets of baking or wax paper
  • 2 Sheets of aluminium foil
  • 1 White sheet of paper
  • Ruler, x-acto knife, glue

A cardboard box beside a stone wall - make your own photography diy lightbox

Start with your cardboard box.

See which side would work the best as the front of your lightbox.

Overhead shot of a cardboard box, steel ruler and knife - tools you need to make a light box

Now, cut that side of the box in the middle.

Overhead shot of an open cardboard box and other tools you need to make your own photography light box

Leave two open flaps that will work as barn doors on the front side of the light box.

These will control the light that reaches the inside of the box.

Overhead shot of a tools you need to make your own photography light box

Measure the sides of the box.

Then cut wax paper to match their size.

Overhead shot of an open cardboard box and other tools you need to make a light box photography

Cut two openings on the sides of the box leaving one flap to the back of the box.

Then glue the wax paper to the edges of the openings.

An overhead shot of a cutting mat, tin foil roll and Stanley knife - materials for how to make a lightbox for photography

Measure the flaps on the back of the box and cut aluminium foil to match their size.

A diy photoshoot setup containing a laptop, diy light box, dslr camera on tripod

Place a white sheet of paper inside the box to be used as a background.

Compose your product and position the flaps of the box to reflect the most of the natural light you might have in the room.

Now you’re ready to shoot.

A close up of a film camera on white background - how to make a light box photography

This image was photographed with f/22, half a second shutter speed and 400 ISO.

Good overall lighting and colour temperature. Not bad at all for a trash-bound card box, some wax paper, aluminium foil and some fiddling with available light.

A great image from light box photography.

2. Compact Led DIY Light Box

Although taking advantage of available light might give you good results, these are not controllable or correctly repeatable due to the nature of this type of lighting.

If you want to be able to control your results, this next project is the right one for you.

It uses simple LED lighting as a way get steady and controllable exposure and colour temperature.

You will need:

  • 1 3mm Perspex sheet
  • 1 5V led bar
  • 2 Small Velcro strips
  • X-acto knife

a diagram of assembling a cardboard box for diy photography light box

Cut this shape on a white 3mm Perspex sheet. The dotted lines are folding marks and not cuts.

The size of your DIY lightbox will be as big as the scale of your template.

As a reference, you can use the centre square to calculate the size of one of the sides of the lightbox.

You could use white cardboard instead of Perspex. But it won’t as durable or resistant.

A diy photoshoot setup containing a camera in a diy light tent

Now fold your box, overlapping the triangle shaped flaps. Keep them in place with adhesive tape, or Velcro strips.

With the latter, you’ll be able to collapse it for transportation and reassemble again easily.

The 5V led strip should be glued to the small flap on the top front of the box.

These led strips are pretty inexpensive. They even come with a micro USB connection that allows it to be plugged to a portable power bank.

This is via a simple cable, making this the ultimate “on the go” DIY lightbox.

A diy photoshoot setup containing a laptop, diy light box, dslr camera on tripod

Now, just use a white sheet of paper as background.

Prepare your product and you are ready to shoot your image.

A close up of a film camera on white background - diy light tents tutorial

This image was photographed with f/22, 1/4 of a second shutter speed and 400 ISO.

Straight out of the camera, it has a good overall exposure. Thanks, light box photography!

On a comparative note, the light is not as natural looking as the previous image though.

The colour temperature is probably a little off too. This is due to the blueish colour cast of the LED.

But you can easily correct that with a more precise in-camera white balance or in post-production.

3. White Box Flash Diffuser

If LED light is not the light for you, there is still one last project you can try.

This is really simple. You won’t even need to have DIY skills.

All you need is:

  • 1 Plastic translucent white storage box
  • 1 Sheet of white paper
  • 2 Speedlights
  • 1 Speedlight transmitter

A diy photoshoot setup containing a camera in a White Box Flash Diffuser

Set your box on its side with the opening facing to the front.

Place a white sheet of paper inside the box. This will be the background.

Now arrange your product.

Test your speedlights’ exposure and positioning relatively to the subject.

A diy photoshoot setup containing a laptop, diy White Box Flash Diffuser, dslr camera on tripod

Synchronise the transmitter with the Speedlights and the camera.

Now you are ready to shoot.

A close up of a film camera on white background - how to make a light box tutorial

I photographed this image with f/22, 1/60 of a second shutter speed and 200 ISO.

A pretty amazing image straight out of the camera.

The overall light is well diffused and placed on the right spots.

The background appears lit and shadowless. This is a huge plus if you need to isolate images from the background.

It saves you hours of work creating cut-outs in post-production.

The white balance seems to be spot on. I used the flash preset in the camera colour temperature options.

The metal reflections are also great without glare or specular light hot spots.

This is sometimes hard to accomplish with this type of materials.

Conclusion

With a little ingenuity, you can go far.

Even if you have all the money in the world or just want to stay away from DIY photography solutions, you may decide to create your own tools to get the results you want.

The important thing is the image, not the tools you used to get it.

We have great posts on using photography reflectors or a light meter you should check out too!

A note from Josh, ExpertPhotography's Photographer-In-Chief:

Thank you for reading...

CLICK HERE if you want to capture breathtaking images, without the frustration of a complicated camera.

It's my training video that will walk you how to use your camera's functions in just 10 minutes - for free!

I also offer video courses and ebooks covering the following subjects:

You could be just a few days away from finally understanding how to use your camera to take great photos!

Thanks again for reading our articles!

Ivo Guimaraes

Ivo Guimaraes is a Portuguese photographer and college teacher. His passion for lighting and image editing has gotten him to the next level in studio photography and led him to work with leading brands in the Portuguese market. You can check out some more of his work on his blog and YouTube channel.

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