Creating a Lightbox


We take a lot of pictures for our blog – often of products and things that we’ve acquired and have in the house.  I’ve often been disappointed with how these pictures turn out, because the backdrop is usually my computer, or a notebook, or the desktop, or whatever was handy at the time.  They just don’t compare to the majority of photos that “professional” sites use online.

I discovered a while ago, that using the ledge running around our exterior walls (we live in a basement suite) gave a more professional look because the background is uniform, and if taken from the right angle you can’t really see the ledge which gives that seamless background look that is so popular.

That isn’t always practical, and we have stuff on our ledges, so they aren’t always available either.  Katie brought up the  idea a while ago of having a lightbox, and had discovered that you can make one, quite cheaply – if you have some minor crafting skills.

I’m here to tell you today, that it’s true, and you can make your own just as easily as I did.


I used the basic directions here on Wikihow:

Essentially you need:

  • An appropriately sized box
  • White tissue paper
  • White Poster board
  • Knife
  • Scissors
  • Packing Tape
  • Light Sources

Basic Directions:

  1. Cut out three sides of the box, leaving 1.5-2inch border of cardboard, and remove flaps
  2. Tape tissue paper over the cut out portions (I used two sheets, you can always add more later)
  3. Cut poster board exactly as wide as the box, but twice as long (it needs to hang down and curve and stick out the front of the box)
  4. Tape board board along top back edge
  5. Curve board gentliy, do not bend or crease
  6. Position light sources around sides and top to produce desired lighting conditions


Now this is brand new so I haven’t quite mastered step 6, it seems to be more of an art than a science.  The goal is to diffuse light throughout the box, without creating shadows, and equally lighting the whole interior.  Though even with a rudimentary understanding of the objectives, I’ve managed to produce decent photos.

The Story:

I spontaneously decided to put this together today, for the previously stated goals of producing higher quality content that I can watermark and be proud to host on our blog.  As I’ve said previously – I’m working on writing more, and producing more content in general, and this is just another step along that path.

I found some how to instructions online, and it didn’t seem too difficult, and from the example photos shot from this DIY (spellcheck recommends DIE here, which can describe some projects, but this one wasn’t so bad) project, it was worth putting in the effort.

I started my materials trip at our kitchen table, we have a selection of boxes waiting to be packed (we’ll be moving soon, maybe).  I found one that was sized for the majority of things we’d be photographing.  You can probably get better effects by creating a variety of boxes, small ones for extra small objects, larger ones for bigger things.  I don’t have a photography studio, and I have cats that love getting in and wrecking boxes, so I opted for a single general sized box.


Next stop, was our local dollar store, where I picked up the rest of the materials.  Including a knife to cut the box.  It cost around $7.

Last, I stopped at Walmart for the light sources.  I picked up two desk lamps which are a nice brushed steel finish and take 13w fluorescent bulbs.  I figured 800ish lumens (cmon spellcheck, you don’t know what a lumens is?) was probably sufficient.  They do a good job, I’m not sure if the style of lamp is too confining though – they have a 45 degreeish (spellcheck things this should be “greenish” which makes no sense at all) arch of light.  A light with a 90 degree arc would better diffuse the light.

Cutting out the cardboard was no problem, the directions have you mark it out all nicely, I just free cut it, and it’s straightish enough that it doesn’t matter.  My cats love the little cardboard pieces, they sat on them all night, moving from one stack to the other stack, scratching then sitting.

Taping the tissue paper was more problematic, but mostly because my manual dexterity is more on the clumsy scale when dealing with fragile objects.  I managed to only tear the tissue paper once, which was a victory for me.

I found that securing the front edge along the open side of the box gave the best control when dealing with the rest of the edges.  The back edge was super easy, since it was still solid.


I used one of the flaps to measure the width for the poster board, it worked excellently.  I traced the line with my level, which is one of the longest straight edges I have, and we were off to the races.  I took care to cut very straight along hte line, because I know messing up this part can make the whole box pointless.

I taped the top edge of the poster board to the top of the cardboard, and added some double sided folded over pieces along the “bottom” of the box and pressed the paper against them, high enough that they’ll hold it up, and not too low so I couldn’t curve the paper nicely.

After that it was just a matter of setting it somewhere, adding the lamps and testing it out with some pictures.  You’ll be seeing the results on the future posts here, stay tuned 😉  It turned out quite well, if I do say so myself.