How to Make a Light Box.
Updated: May 31, 2023
Great photographs are key to any blog, online store, or social media account. But how to achieve the best product photos or engaging flat lays when you're working on a budget? Try a homemade light box!
Making a light box is easier than it sounds. Not interested in investing the time right now? Check out my review of my light box and whether light boxes are a worthwhile investment. On a budget? Read on for homemade light box tips!
Essentially, a light box is a container that houses and reflects pure white light. This is how products and flat lays tend to look best. Natural light is also great, if you can harness it. Here are two methods for achieving an inexpensive light box set-up at home.
1) Flat Lay Station.
A very basic set-up for home photography involves a large box (plastic storage totes work well), two lamps with high-quality light bulbs, and a large sheet of white paper or foam board.
Set up near a large window that lets in plenty of light. Lay the white material over the plastic box. Position your items on the white background. Try to take photographs when the natural light is bright and even. If you are unable to achieve this sort of lighting (like in my house, where it's always dark), give the lamps a try. They should point in from either side and create even lighting across your paper or foam board.
2) Homemade Light Box.
For higher-quality photos, you can also build a more sophisticated set-up using similar materials. This time, cut the front and sides out of a large cardboard box (you'll be left with three sections of the box; three will be cut away). Attach translucent white paper to each side of the box. Use a long piece of white paper to connect the top of the back side and bottom of the front side. Do not fold it to be flush with the box. Instead, it should curve downward. Next, place a lamp on either side of the white paper and allow it to cast filtered, even light onto the paper below.
Best Light Boxes to Purchase
If you love the idea of making a light box but would rather save time and order one to use at home, you've come to the right place! In our article "Are Light Boxes Worth the Investment," we break down which light boxes are cost-effective and which will give you the best results.
Don't want to take the time to read the article? Here's our quick take on which light boxes and accessories you should buy for your at-home photo studio:
Best Light Boxes to Buy on Amazon
This is the #1-best-reviewed light box on Amazon. If you're looking to upgrade your at-home studio, whether it be for blogging or to take better photos of your products, this is the box to get. It comes from the Amazon Basics line, which is usually solid, and has everything you'll need to get started with taking photos.
This light box is rated #2 by Amazon users, and for good reason: not only does it shed lots of lovely, photo-friendly bright light, it comes with SIX colored backdrops to revolutionize your options during photo shoots. Best of all, it's cheaper than the Havox that I bought over six years ago! A major win!
If you're looking to spend a bit more on a light box, this is the one to get. It has adjustable brightness, which would be wonderful to have. (For the record, my HAVOX does not have that.) Plus, it comes with four colored backdrops to really allow you to style your photos and flat lays however your heart desires. This looks like a fabulous light box!
If you want to really up your light box game, this person-sized tent is the right choice. Modeling shirts, bags, jewelry, or other clothing? This light box is big enough for you to easily stand or sit inside. This makes it the perfect option for larger items or photo shoots with people. The light box is 47 by 39 by 78 inches in size and comes with its own carrying case for easy travel.
Best Accessories For Use in a Lightbox (or for Flat Lay Photography)
Whether you're using a digital camera or your smart phone to take photos in your light box, you'll want something to hold your camera steady. This is something I really struggled with at first, until I invested in a clip for my camera. Shakiness of your hands/arms/the camera equals a blurry photo. No one wants that! This clip clamps to your table or even the edge of your light box frame, and it then unscrews to fit your camera and then hold it firmly in place. No more shakiness!
For everything from light box work to flat lays to even your family portraits, this attractive and useful phone tripod is a tool you'll want on your side. It extends to an impressive 61 inches in height and doesn't get too shaky when fully extended, which is important for photo shoots. It comes with a wireless remote, so you can stand anywhere (including in the photo itself) and take an excellent picture. Best of all, it steadies your hand when you use your light box for photography.
You don't always want your photos to have a white background, and this set of double-sided photography backgroundsfor lightboxes is the perfect solution! The set comes with white and black marbled backdrops and four colors of rustic wood, ranging from off-white to dark brown. The backdrops are 34.4 by 15.7 inches in size and are easy to store. They make your light box work so much more versatile!
Have you ever built a light box? How did it turn out? Share your tips and photos below!