Sunday, September 1, 2013

DIY Light Box for Better Pictures

I am by no means an expert photographer.

I'm big on trial and error.

But I'm working on it. A lot.

The first step (after finding a camera!) was finding a good spot around my house to take pictures.

There wasn't really enough light anywhere inside. And when I turned on all the lamps and overhead lights, every picture became really yellow.

So I tried outside. The pictures came out better, but even in indirect sunlight, still not so great.

Distracting background, too many shadows and glares from the light, and it took a huge amount of editing to get the colors even close to what they were in real life.

So finally I decided it was light box time. But why buy something, when you can make one for free?
First, I had to find a big box. Fortunately, I drove by the house of someone who recently bought a dishwasher and left the big heavy duty box on the curb. Unfortunately, the box was too big for my little car. So I stuck the box on my car's roof and drove home sticking my hand out the window holding on to it and praying for dear life. I drove slowly, and it only slid a little. We made it home in one piece!

Then I set out to cut the box apart. It was a big rectangular box and too tall, so I cut off about a foot of the height using a knife, making it more into a cube shape. Then I set the box down with the opening facing forward. On the top and two sides, I cut out a rectangle, leaving about a 1-2" border all the way around. Basically you're cutting three windows in your box. 

Looking in at all three windows.

Then find some white tissue paper (or thin white fabric if you want to be fancy). Tape the tissue paper over your three windows to diffuse the light coming into the box. 

Looks don't matter here; just make sure it's covered.

Then take a piece of white poster board and place it inside your box. Your goal is to have one piece of poster board that's big enough to cover the back and bottom of your box, making a solid white backdrop. 

My box is so big, I'm currently using two pieces, like so...

Now, your light box is finished! Find a desk or task lamp (any lamp that points the light down) and place it on a nearby surface so the light is shining down through your top window, lighting up your box.

And start snapping away!

I think it came out much better. The colors were true to life without requiring any editing, the glare and shadows are greatly reduced, and the products stands out so much more on the solid white background. It's not perfect yet, I know, but I'll keep practicing! Hopefully they'll keep improving!

Side by side for better comparison.

So go find a box and make your own light box. Better pictures mean better sales, or so I'm told! I'm still waiting to see if that's true... But in the meantime, feel free to check out my Etsy shop, Tess and Ivy, if you're interested in the bowl above and many others that are for sale! I'm having a fall sale - use coupon code FALL15 to save 15% on all of your purchases through November.

Thanks for stopping by!

Linking up with: Thrifty Thursday and Common Ground.


  1. This is a great tutorial! Thank you for sharing. I work full time, so often I have lost the best light of the day while at work. Making a light box would be really helpful! I'm visiting from the Thrifty Thursday link party.

    Christy @ Creating a Beautiful Life

    1. Thank you, Christy! It's super nice not having to wait for that certain time of day to take pictures!

  2. I love it...Yet do you keep it where its lit with daylight? Is there no diffrerence? Is there only one light source? Also is it a regular yellow bulb?


    1. Hi Shobha,

      I tend to use it when there's daylight, but I recently took pictures later on in the day using only lamps as light, and they came out great as well.

      I placed an office/task light on either side of the box. They have flourescent bulbs in them, but cool white or daylight bulbs would work as well. The yellow bulbs work, but they make everything so yellow, and that just requires more editing to try to make the colors true to life, so I avoid them.

      If you're using it when there's not a good amount of natural light, make sure to use the two lamps. That prevents shadows inside the box, since light is coming from both sides.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!


Thank you for your comments! I appreciate your kind words and always try to reply!

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