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April 23, 2014

How To Make Your Own Light Box

I have been wanting to buy or make a light box for years for my photography. I learned how to use one in my intensive year long Black and White Photography class I took in high school, which is where I learned a ton about photography. I've always known how much better my food and review products would look in one of these babies. But did I ever do anything about it? No, until today!

I got up pretty early and just decided today was the day to make one finally. I've been having so many problems with the location I have been using. You may have noticed my previous photo backgrounds have been wood. I was using half of our round dining room table that's right next to an East facing window (you can see it below, I don't even have enough space for the light box lol!). It's been ok, but I've been having some problems with the light being very blue during the late afternoon and just not having enough space in general. Plus, I don't like being dependent on the light of day for my photography sessions. Especially in the winter, it's a pain.

So there are a ton of other tutorials out there for making a light box, but here's what I did and I think the result came out great!

What You'll Need:

1 Square-ish box - I got one Medium box from Home Depot. It has 3 cubic feet of space, which I thought I'd need over the small box they also sell. This is just a box for moving, so really you can use whatever you have on hand, whatever size is right for you, etc. Cost: $1

Tissue Paper - How many you'll need depends on how thick yours is, how much light you want to block out, etc. I used 5 sheets total for my whole box. Cost: $0 (I had some on hand)

Packing Tape or Duct Tape - Again, use whatever you have to try and save as much money as possible on this, that's one of the great reasons to make it yourself! Cost: $0 (I had some on hand)

1-3 Clamp Lights (or Goose-Necked or Heat Lamps) - Whatever you call them, you can see what they look like below. I'm starting to sound like a broken record but how many you should get depends on your individual needs! I think typically most people get two. I did as well. I got two of the mid-size up-to 125W ones. I am already thinking about getting another though. Cost: $20 for two

Daylight Bulbs - One bulb for each lamp you get of course. I got a 2 pack of 65W Daylight CFL Flood Lights. You can just get regular daylight bulbs instead of the flood light ones, but I thought they would disperse the light more and make it so I didn't have to use as much tissue paper, and I could use them without the box as well. Make sure you're getting a smaller wattage of bulb than the capacity of the lamps. Also a smaller wattage will keep the bulbs from getting too hot. Cost: $12 for a 2-pack

Poster Board(s) - A white poster board that is big enough to cover the back and bottom of your light box. Mine is a little short on the top, but I think that's fine since I won't be photographing anything tall enough to notice. You can also get a darker color for photographing white objects. Cost: $3 for one

Total Cost: $36 - You could definitely go cheaper than this if you happen to have more of the parts laying around the house. You may also want a tripod for this, my photography superpower is that I have a really steady hand so I don't use one. Plus there's no room for one where I shoot.

Step 1: Take your box and tape up the bottom. Or, what would be the bottom, if you were using it normally. Once you tape it up it will become the back of your light box.

Step 2: Cut off any flaps your box has at the top. If it's a moving box, cut off all 4 flaps at the top, or the opposite end you taped up.

Step 3: Now you're going to use an exact-o knife to cut out panels on three sides. Decide which side you want as the bottom of your light box. Leave a one inch (or so, no less though) border, and remove the middle. Do this for three sides. Be very careful! Always cut away from you. See above photo for an example of how this will look when you're done.

Step 4: Use tissue paper to cover your three "windows". Tape it taut very carefully over the windows on the outside of the box. When you've done this it will look like the photo above.

Step 5: Tape tissue to the insides of your box windows. For this, you may want to roll your tape into a long cylinder and attach to the 1 inch box frames you have and then line up the tissue over it. It was very difficult to try and tape on top of the tissue in some of the corners on the inside. Once you've done this, you will have 2 layers of tissue in each window.

Step 6: Cut your poster board to the width of your box. If it's tight that's even better because then it will stay in place, but can also be removed to change out background colors. Slide the poster board in so it's not folded, or taped, but just curved over the back bottom corner of the inside of the box. Don't tape it unless you're sure you won't change background colors! I didn't because I probably will change them out. See above photo for what this step looks like.

Step 7: Decide where your lights are going to go. Chairs work well for clamping them onto, if you got two, both sides is good. If you got three, two on each side, and 1 over the top window. The more adjustable they can be wherever you place them, the better. Some items being photographed will require different placement to avoid shadows, reflections, etc.

Step 8: Start photographing!

Here's one example of something I tried. Definitely not the best background color for this, but it was shiny and I wanted to see how well my box worked with reflections. Not bad!

One of my Tokyo Milk Dark Lip Balms, it looks awesome!

Sneak peak at a coming review, Rainbow Honey Mystery Bag anyone? Look at that glitter!

Another sneak peak at my cosmetic drawers I purchased a while ago, but are just now arriving. Review on those coming soon as well.

I've still got some light placement issues to work out for my light box, but once that's figured out it will be perfect! I absolutely love my light box and I am kicking myself for not doing it earlier! I still have a few reviews and posts from my old setup so you'll still see some of those scattered throughout, but once those are done, I'll be using this puppy for all my photos from now on!

Do you have a light box? Did you buy it or make it? What do you think of this tutorial? Let me know in the comments!

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