This month I thought I would write a DIY post on how to build your own photography light box. You may be wondering what this has to do with literacy? As authors and bloggers, we take a ton of photographs. Whether it is for a blog, social media, or marketing, quality graphics are essential. If you have an hour to spare, here is a simple light box you can create to help improve your photographs.

To give you an idea of the quality of the photographs you can achieve, the feature photo was taken with my iPhone camera and is 100% unedited.

Supplies

Here is a handy-dandy shopping list for you:

  • A cardboard box

  • Muslin material

  • Poster board

  • Double sided, permanent STICKY tape

  • Duct tape

  • Clamp lights & LED lamps

  • Scissors

  • Utility knife

  • Carpenter’s square or ruler

  • Pen or pencil

  • Foam board (optional)

Instructions

I purchased a large, heavy duty cardboard box, 22″ x 22″ x 21″. I wanted a box that would allow for ample area to photograph bigger items. The first thing you want to do is cut one of the side edges so you can open the box up and lay it flat. Mark on the box your Side-Top-Side. This is important because after we draw in the boxes, we are going to cut them out. The front (opening where you take the photographs) and back are the flaps.

If you like straight lines, grab a carpenter’s square or ruler and pencil in a large square in the center of the box about 2″ from the edge.  You will do this for the top and the two sides. If you like to throw caution to the wind, go ahead and free-hand the boxes.

Mark the center areas.
Cut out the squares on the top and two sides.

On the inside of the box you will need to place two boxes of sticky tape around the cut-outs. One should be just outside the cut-out and the other box should be at the outer edge.

Tape placement.

Remove the tape backing. For the next part, we’re going to be attaching the material. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist, but it does take more than two hands. Unfortunately, that means I don’t have any photographs.

Pull the muslin taunt and place it over the sticky tape. I found it best to start at one edge. After it was firmly in place, my husband continued to pull it tight as I slowly pressed it against the tape. This avoided any wrinkles in the material. Continue this process for all three openings.

Use your duct tape (or Duck tape…quack, quack!) to seal up the side edge of the box, and tape up the back.

Carefully slide the poster board inside the box. Do not crimp it, unless you want it to show up in your photos. If possible, try and find plastic poster board. It works great. I was able to locate it at Michaels craft store. To secure the poster board, I used blue painters tape so that I could easily re-position the board to the desired height.

These are the LED lights I bought. Costco had a 2 pack on sale for $3.99. In addition, my husband picked up a Philips 3-color setting lamp for the top fixture.

(DANGER, WILL ROBINSON! DANGER! You are about to see one of my summer activities—cleaning out a basement storage room to convert into a she-cave. Please ignore the mess. I can not wait to make this room my own little haven for my books and projects.)

Here is a look at the final light box:

Here is another picture with the optional top light kit. The stand is made out of PVC pipe. It can easily be broken down to store.

Third lamp in place.

Sample photographs

Smarties

Dani thinks solving mysteries is like finding a giant-sized Smarties in your Halloween candy…it’s AWESUPENDOUS! 

To adjust the tone of your photographs try moving around the lights. You can also purchase different lamps; color tones vary from soft white, bright white, or cool white. It all depends on the look you want to achieve.

Also, instead of using a white poster board, opt for a green one. This will allow you to do green-screen effects and place your photograph on top of any background. For a more dramatic effect, use a black poster board. You get the idea!

Thank you for adjoining me today for this DIY project. I hope you find it useful. Should you decide to try to build one for yourself, let me know how it turns out. I would love to see your photographs!

All the best,

K. Lamb