M.A.K.E. - Photo Light Box

This is going to be a new, fairly regular feature for the blog. I'm very excited about it and am working hard to make sure I'm doing my part by taking better photos and documenting every step of the way.

What is MAKE? Well, it stands for, "My Ability to Keep things Easy." Yes, I know there are two T's that are unaccounted for, but I've got something for those who are just dying to know why. Let's just say, you should be able to do it yourself... 2 a T! Get it?! My goal is to make this series, and blog in general, an easy place to find user-friendly tutorials for everyone. Bare with me and we can learn together!

Now, on to the light box...

My inspiration for the light box comes from the need to have a space where I can take pictures of supplies, final products, and details concerning tutorials. After reading the majority of The Crafter's Guide to Taking Great Photos, I learned a few things: you need a consistent backdrop and nice lighting. Our house is well lit, but I'm still not very good at deciding when and where is best to take pictures. So, this light box is an easy and cheap solution.

Step 1:

  • Assemble one end of your box. I used a Staples Economy Storage Box because that's the only "medium" size box that Makeman, the Japanese hardware store, had available. It came flat, all in one piece (including the lid) so I used my box cutter to cut the lid off, assembled it accordingly, and taped the bottom. If you get a regular packing box, just close one end and leave the other open.

I chose to use duct tape throughout this protect. However, a lot of tips and tutorials that I read suggested using white masking tape. This is definitely up to you, I just didn't think it was sticky enough. I assume that using white would help avoid any lighting issues and make it look nicer, but we all know what assuming does... So, you pick! I will say that I did not put any tape inside the box so I see no real issue with the duct tape unless you want your box to be pretty.

Step 2:

  • Cut out a square on three sides of your box, leaving about a 2-in border. The size of your actual box will determine how big these are. The bigger the box, the bigger the square. If looking into the box from the open side, leave the bottom and back intact. 

I used the 90 degree ruler pictured above to draw the square because I'm terrible at making straight lines. Then, I lined the ruler up to the corners of the square and made sure it matched up. I left the ruler in place and ran the box knife down the edge. I did try to follow the line without the ruler, which you could probably do if the box is smooth. My Staples box had a bumpy texture so it didn't work so well.

Also, you'll notice above that I used white tape at first. Again, just wasn't really digging it so I went over it with duct tape. This is a step that wasted a lot of time so I'd just start with duct tape from the beginning.

Step 3:

  • Cut out pieces of wax paper a little bigger than the square cutouts. If you are a perfectionist, you an use the pieces you cut out as templates. If you're me, you guestimate and then cut off the extra. Once you have your pieces cut out, tape them (with duct tape) over the holes. This works as a diffuser for the light that you'll eventually be adding in. 

This is where you can change things up. Initially, as you can see in the photo, I used muslin. I already had it, it LOOKED white, and I thought that fabric would be better. Why did I think this? I don't know, maybe because it's more expensive?

Anyway, you can choose whatever you'd like as long as it's white and translucent. The muslin didn't work for me because it gave off yellow hues and just looked bad. I've read that you can use a cloth shower curtain liner, tissue paper, and just thin white card stock. A local photographer said he used wax paper and it worked great. I tried it and saw significant improvements!

Step 4:
  • Add your poster board to the inside so that there is a small curve in the bottom, back corner. This helps to avoid any unwanted shadows or sharp corners. (sorry no pictures!)

My poster conveniently fit into the box with little alterations. You want to make sure that it covers the entire back of the box. Not having to fuss or fight with it can definitely explain why I didn't take pictures. Here, you can learn how to attach fabric or insert the poster.

Step 5:

  • Attach your lights so that they shine into your square cut outs and then test out your new light box! The natural light light bulbs will help a lot with getting the correct white balance. I'm still struggling with that, but my camera is nice to me and has a preset option that's let me skip that step for now. As you can see in the photo, the current bulbs do NOT give off natural-looking light. 

Please ignore the mess in the above photo. Right now, I just attached the lamps to anything that would work. In the future, I plan to make small light posts to attach them to. This will help it be less hectic and more permanent. For now, I will continue to use a drawer, a plastic tote, and the keyboard part of a desk we don't use. Adapt and overcome, right?!

And all this work was for what? For these...

My awesome hot chocolate cup from Yomitan Pottery Village

*I don't work for any mentioned companies or get compensated for mentioning any of the above products. It's just me trying to MAKE it for you!*


  1. Wow this is really neat, really makes your photos pop!

    1. Thanks for all of the comments! I'm on my way home for a vacation (in the states at the moment). I'll respond to all of them as soon as I can! :)

      Also, feel free to ask any questions!


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