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Whenever I go hunting for photography tips, there’s always one resounding golden rule: use natural light!  I agree that natural light is ideal, however 99% of my baking is done at night because I have a full-time day job.  Snapping shadowy pictures in my kitchen had finally worked my last nerve – I needed another solution!

Enter, the light box.  I made a quick trip to Home Depot and AC Moore, and I was ready to go. The entire project cost $30 and took me a little over 1 hour – it would’ve probably gone a lot quicker if I didn’t stop at every step to take pictures.  I hope you have fun following along!  Make sure you read this one til the end to see my cat’s version of the day…

Supplies Needed: 

  • Large cardboard box (preferably a perfect cube, but this one was free from the trash room at work)
  • Three (3) utility lamps with clamp bottoms ($6.97/ea for 5.5″ diameter)
  • Four-pack of soft white 100W light bulbs ($1.47)
  • 6′ extension cord with 3 outlets ($1.47)
  • White tissue paper ($1.50; not pictured here)
  • Backdrop material ($3.00)
  • Other supplies: ruler, marker, tape, scissors, serrated knife

Measure an even border around the top, front and side panels.  I used a 1.5″ border.

Tip: make sure you use a washable marker so you don’t look like you got scratched up by a Smurf for the rest of the day.

This was probably the most time-consuming step; here is what your box should look like after all of the measurements are complete.

A serrated knife sawed through the cardboard so easily, taking only 5 minutes to cut out the top and front panels…

Ta da!  Now on to the sides… these were a bit trickier.

The box’s inner flaps were making it really hard to cut through with the knife…

I measured off a border that was the width of the yard stick, and cut off the wider inside portion.

Removing that wider inner flap allows you to cut through only one piece of cardboard – much easier!

After removing the wider inner flaps, re-tape the ends back together to finish cutting out the panels.

Reinforce the seams of the box where it had to be taped together – no need to do this on the edges where the cardboard bends against itself – just where you had to tape it shut.  Then cut out the remaining two end panels.

Ta da – you’re about halfway there… the remaining steps fly by pretty fast.

Cut out squares of white tissue paper for the top and side panels.

Screw in the light bulbs – an important step, haha…

And there you have it – a light box!  The side lamps are clamped onto the backs of dinner table chairs.  The top lamp is clamped to… well, um… ok its a toilet plunger – oh the shame!  But in my defense, it is brand new/never used and this is a spare table in our den that we do not eat off of and it was the perfect height, lol.

I grabbed an assortment of paper with different colors, patterns and textures from the scrap booking section of AC Moore to use as backgrounds for my pictures.  OK lets see what happens…

Voila!  Wow – I am so excited how this turned out!  Important to note: I did not do any editing to this picture whatsoever, this is the original photo.  

Here’s a behind-the-scenes shot to show you what it all looks like set-up.  I didn’t even tape the piece of background paper to the back panel… I just propped it up behind my cake pop stand.

And there you have it!  Your very own light box!

Now, if you have a cat, beware!  My cat, Grizzy, had an entirely different take on this project; here’s his version…

Sniff sniff, what is this contraption?

It’s a face scratcher!  Ahhhh, this will come in handy…

No no, wait a minute. I think it just may be a….

Yesssss, a new nap spot!

Ugh, you need this? Fine, let me see what else I can mess with…

Score, a toothpick!

Whoa, wait a minute… she didn’t buy energy efficient CFL bulbs!?

Sweet surrender, this tissue paper is cozy…

Does this angle make my butt look fat?

Source: I’ve seen a few DIY light boxes tutorials in prior searches, but they all seemed so complex, calling for certain types of fabric or cutting out weird shapes of cardboard.  Finally, through some random clicking around, I came across this tutorial that looked so simple, I just had to try it… I’m so glad I did!

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