How To DIY a Light Box

DIY Photography Light Box

Light boxes or light tents are used in photography for a wide variety of uses, it is a (usually) small box used for capturing details by providing a soft even light on the subject matter. They are available for purchase in a large number of stores and online outlets, but sometimes you just can’t wait for delivery or you are wanting to use different colors. A light box can be cheaply built using only a few supplies, many of which can be found around your house.



  • Poster board
  • 5 Foam board 15x20in
  • X-Acto knife
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Tissue Paper
  • Packing & Scotch tape

Set Up

Take three of your foam board and mark out a border with your ruler. I used a two-inch border, I recommend using a T-square to keep everything straight, but I seem to have misplaced mine. Carefully cut out the centers, you will only need the borders for this project, but those squares can come in handy as reflectors or makeshift barn doors for your smaller lights. The remaining two boards are used as is.

Diffusing The Light

The next step is to soften harsh lights in your light box. I use white tissue paper, but a wide variety of things can be used in place of the tissue paper; tracing paper, parchment, lighting filters, depending on the mood you are trying to achieve. I used a single sheet of paper on each frame board. Scotch tape is your friend on this step. I started on one corner and slowly worked my way around the edge of the tissue paper pulling the paper as tight as I could to keep the wrinkles out. The paper needs to be flat and smooth to keep shadows from appearing in the light box.

Building The Frame

I started with the two whole foam boards and created a 90 degree angle and used packing tape to hold the boxes together. Add your side frames making sure all corners are tight and squared to keep stray light from entering the box. I found it easier to use scotch tape to temporarily hold the board together while I used the packing tape to really secure the box. Once your box is built trim the poster board to fit tightly to the width of your light box. Match up one end of the poster with the top corners of the box and gently curve the poster along the bottom to create a mini cyclorama or infinity backdrop for your images. I didn’t attach the poster background so I could easily change out the background with patterned paper or cover with a lightweight fabric.

The construction of a diy light box is fairly simple and can be made in virtually any size or color depending on your needs. I once built one that was lined in  black crushed velvet to photograph vintage jewelry. Next week I will be showcasing some Christmas pictures using this light box.

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