How to Build a Light Box for Product Photography

How to Build a Light Box for Product Photography

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Do you want to take better product photographs for your online store? Are you looking for a way to photograph small homemade items without having to spend a lot of money? If so, then you need to build your own light box! In this blog post, we will show you how to build a light box for less than $15 using recycled supplies and simple things from your house. We will also provide some tips and suggestions for taking great product photographs with your new light box.

Why Build a Lightbox?

Selling homemade items is a great way to earn additional income from your hobbies or skills. But in order to make online sales, you’re going to need to make sure your items look enticing. Potential buyers are more likely to choose your version of an item if it looks professional, clean, and clear in your photos. This is where a homemade light box comes in handy.

A light box is simply a box made out of cardboard or other materials that have been lit from the outside with bright, natural light, creating even better lighting for your product photos. This type of setup is ideal for photographing small objects, like homemade jewelry, accessories, canned goods, and baked goods. Not only will your items look great, but your light box will also give them a clean and professional appearance with a simple white background.

The best part about homemade light boxes is that they are inexpensive to build and easy to set up.

So let’s get started!

Supplies to Build your Own Light Box

A light box can be built with a large cardboard mailing box. You have the option to shine light from left and right (with two lamps) or to also have light shining from above (in which case we recommend a lamp with a clip that can be hung from above). The light will shine through semi-transparent white paper or fabric – we find that white parchment paper works well.

Many of these materials can be found in your house or purchased at a re-use store. We found lamps for $4 each and used a recycled cardboard box. You may need to purchase parchment paper, and we recommend a new poster board so that the white background is clean and fresh. All-in-all, this light box can usually be built for less than $15, and in less than an hour!

  • a large cardboard box
  • white poster board
  • white parchment paper
  • packing tape
  • scissors
  • 2-3 lamps with bright (natural light) bulbs
  • Power strip (optional)

How to build your Light Box

Step one: Cut Openings on Sides of Light Box

Cut large openings on the left and right sides of the box (when standing with the opening facing you) that are just a bit smaller than the width of your parchment paper. If you want to have a light shining from above, too, do the same on the top of the box.

Cut openings on the sides to allow light in

Step Two: Cover Openings

Cover these openings with parchment paper, and tape the paper in place with clear packing tape.

Cover openings with parchment paper

Step Three: Install Poster Board

Cut your poster board to the width of your box, left to right. Then, place a long strip of packing paper at the top of the poster board and tape it to the inside top / back of your box.

Tape Poster Board inside

Step Four: Set up Lights

Set up your lights outside of the light box, so that they shine into the box through the parchment paper.

HINT: I plug all of my lights into one power strip so that I can turn my lightbox on and off at the flick of one switch.

Set up lights on either side, and a power strip if desired

Step Five: Insert your products and start taking photos!

I took these photos of my homemade beeswax furniture polish using my new homemade light box and I’m very pleased with the results!

Tips for Taking Product Photographs with your Light Box

You can take photos of small products in your light box using either a camera or a phone. A camera will usually result in higher-quality images, but given the advances that have been made with cell phone cameras, your results will be pretty darn close with the help of your light box.

Here are some tips for using your light box well:

  • When photographing small items, try to use a macro lens if you have one. This will help to create sharper images. Alternatively, you can use the zoom feature on your camera or phone to get closer to your product without causing shadows or blocking light.
  • Try to avoid putting the light box directly in front of a window, as this will create shadows and uneven lighting.
  • If you are photographing products that have reflective surfaces, like jewelry or glassware, try to angle your lights so that they do not reflect off of the product and cause glare on the camera.
  • If you are photographing a group of items, try to arrange them in a way that is visually appealing and makes sense for the product. For example, if you are selling earrings, don’t just photograph them all lying flat on the table – create a styled look with your product.
  • Likewise, if you are photographing and purposeful object – like soap, polish, or a tool – include the items that might go along with that object in your photo. Pair soap with a simple wooden soap dish, cutting board conditioner with a small cutting board, etc. Don’t overcrowd your photos with distracting items, keep it simple.
  • Take lots of photos! You can always delete the ones that you don’t like, but it’s better to have too many than not enough.

We hope this tutorial for a DIY light box will help you and your business grow! Share with us in the comments how you’re using your light box!

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Carrie Williams Howe
Blogger & Homesteader at The Happy Hive
Carrie Williams Howe is an educational leader by day and an aspiring homesteader by night and weekend. She lives on a small homestead in Vermont with her husband, two children, and a rambunctious border collie. She is a Founder and Editor of Homestead How-To and also blogs about her family's homestead life at The Happy Hive.

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