How To: DIY $10 Macro Photo Studio

Today we are going to learn how to build a DIY light tent for product photography, for next to zero cost.

Even saying it costs "$10" is a bit of a stretch, because you can probably build this mostly for free. The ten dollars assumes you cannot scrounge a cardboard box and some white tissue paper you have saved in the gift-wrap supplies box. You can get this stuff at an office supply store, but it is more fun to scrounge. Besides, we are all about re-use and recycle here at Strobist. (I can proudly report that 98% of my bad jokes are recycled!)

If you have this stuff, the only thing you will need to buy is two sheets of posterboard - black and white. Total damage would be less than $2. Don't blow the rent money.

Some Basic Theory

Small flash gear is especially well suited for shooting macro shots and other small-object still life and product shots. And this little studio in a box does not even technically need a flash to work its wonders. Any bright lamp will do if you are shooting digital, because it is very easy to balance for tungsten light and get the color balance spot on.

This project is basically a light tent, albeit a very controllable one. It pretty much creates beautiful light by default. Frankly, it's very difficult to screw it up.

This is one of the most useful DIY gadgets you could make - especially when you consider the price tag.

What can you use it for? That's pretty much up to you, and will be limited only by the size of the box you use. Shots of small objects in the studio, on location, items you are selling on eBay, flowers (even still in-the-ground-and-growing ones,) Absolute Vodka bottles for $50,000 ad campaigns, catalog stuff - whatever.

This little thingie does it all in spades - and with a lot of control, too.

The secret is being able to have nice, soft, even light coming from either side or the top - or any combination of the three.

The black and white poster boards serve triple duty as light blockers, reflectors or sweep backgrounds. Not bad for 49 cents, huh?

How to Make It

I used a 12" x12" x12" box, but let your subject needs define your size. I would not go smaller than 12x12x12, tho.

Basically we are gonna cut windows in three sides of the box and totally take out one side. (That last part is optional - see below.) You'll want to tape the original bottom of the box securely into place before making your cuts. Leave two of the top flaps on for light control as shown, and remove the other two. The three-shot sequence just below shows it better than I could explain.

I used a razor to slice the boxes. Try not to amputate anything, okay? Besides, the arterial bleeding will saturate and weaken the cardboard.

The last photo of the three-shot sequence shows the box with the tracing paper taped over the windows. You can choose to leave the "side" of the original box that will form the bottom of your studio attached to make it stronger, but it will preclude your ability to place the box down over an object (like a plant) outside and retain the surrounding ground environment. Your choice. I'll sleep well either way.

The thing could not be easier to use. You'll need at least one light source. A flash works great, as long as you can manually control the output and get it off of the camera.

But you could also use a bright lamp or work light. Just be sure to balance your camera for tungsten and put the camera on a tripod to keep it still during the exposure.

You could even use the sun, making it come from whatever direction you need by rotating the box.

The beauty of this thing is the lighting control you get. You have the ability to almost completely wrap your subject in high quality light. But if you use only one light, the tissue paper acts as a fill reflector all around your subject.

If you want to kill the reflection on the darker side, stick a square of black posterboard on that side (on the inside.) Ditto on the top.

My favorite thing about this box is the "infinity sweep" effect you can get for a seamless bottom-to-background look. It's just a strip of posterboard.

White and black (especially white) both work fine, but you could also use any color you wanted. You'll just have to pony up another 49 cents.

You want more lighting control? You got it. The two remaining flaps act as gobo's to block your camera from seeing the side light sources. Bingo - no flare, and very saturated colors. Simply adjust the flaps for best blocking effect.

You want the light to come from closer to a 45-degree angle? Rotate the box around a little and shoot from closer to a corner.

You want more definition on each side? Use a light source on each side. This setup puts the old "Big Tupperware Light Tent" to shame.
The phone and radio were shot just because they happened to be sitting around the kitchen. I used another light on the camera left side of the radio for better left-side definition.

When using two light sources, you can change the relative light intensity by dialing down one of the flashes on manual, or by moving one of your lamps further away or closer. Simple as that.

The flower you see at top of the post (a "Black-Eyed Susan") was shot with just one small flash (on 1/16th power) positioned on the camera right side of the box, with no fill other than the tissue paper. (I actually used tracing paper.)

IMO, that's some smooth overall light for just one small light source.

UPDATE, July 2013: Literally millions of people have read this article since it was first written in 2006. And a little cottage industry has popped up around store-bought versions of my cardboard macro studio. If you want now, you can purchase a store-bought version, shipped via Amazon Prime in the US, for about $35.

For that price, it almost doesn't make sense to go to the trouble. But either way, your product photos will look great.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Timing!! I got to sell some bits on feebay... and this is so good.

When I'm finished with the box I might put it on feebay as well!

July 10, 2006 2:10 AM  
Blogger Levi said...

That's great! I've been meaning to put a lightbox together and this article gives me a great base to go by. Thanks again Strobist!

July 10, 2006 10:56 AM  
Blogger David said...

Great Job! I bought a light tent on Ebay a fe wmonths ago though. It was $20 shipped from Hong Kong or somewhere and it is as nice as the one the camera shop sells for $120.

I would love to see some mention on strobist about these radio slaves they are selling on ebay lately. $20 for a pocket wizard? Do they work?

July 10, 2006 12:00 PM  
Anonymous conrad erb said...

for the starving college students, you can use the same materials to make a softbox.

cut out on side of a cardboard box, coat it with a layer or two of white tissue paper. cut out a flash-head-sized hole opposite the tissue paper, insert flash, tape it to the box, and go. a bit ugly compared to speedrings and fancy softboxes with velcro, but it is mad cheap and it works like crazy.

believe it or not, when I was in college I used this for a wedding (my friend's wedding of course, not a professional gig) - and it worked beautifully.

July 10, 2006 1:33 PM  
Anonymous Aaron J Scott said...

Speaking of just using a lamp and color balancing, couldn't you snap an empty photo of the box with the lamp on and use that image do do a custom white balance on? That would probably be the easiest way to go, IMO.

July 10, 2006 2:00 PM  
Blogger SexyNinjaMonkey said...

Excellent idea for us photographers who have just spent about AU$1000 on a new camera and can't afford anything else.

July 10, 2006 8:43 PM  
Anonymous Vic said...

Well done.
I'm used to solve easily my illumination problem you are an inspiration.

July 11, 2006 2:22 AM  
Blogger GuNs said...

Hi !

I love this blog of yours even though I dont have enough money to buy all the fancy things that you use. I do try to use your tips with my built in flash on my Panasonic Lumix FZ-20 to best effect though.

I was amused to see a notice saying that your blog is not supported by Internet Explorer. You should know that a majority of people on the internet (also implying majority of your users) use internet explorer. I see no problems on my blog (which is on blogger too) and I always use IE. If you are facing any specific problems, why dont you drop a mail to the blogger support and inform them? It will be really sad if people come here, read that notice and then run away because they do not have firefox or opera.

Just my two bits worth.


P.S.:Do you have or intend to have a section for poor amateurs like me who cannot afford extra flashes and strobes?

July 11, 2006 4:42 AM  
Anonymous Othello said...

Pretty neat stuff there. My father is into macro photography, and I'm sure he'll appreciate this. Currently he clamps a light panel to his kitchen counter and photographs on a downward angle, or something like that. His kitchen counter and he uses a Canon EOS 1Ds, weird guy, so he'll definately appreciate this.

July 11, 2006 7:47 AM  
Blogger David said...


The Exporer compatibility problems gives many Blogspot publishers fits. I am one of them. I have been unable to find a solution to the sidebar-dropping-to-the-bottom problem. So I am just showing a solution for those who are not able to read the blog.

I made a decision early on not to let the coding aspect of this subsume my time as a photographer. If I lose some people over it, so be it.

As for the price point, I am about as low as I can go. Might wanna sell some plasma and get a used SB-24 if you really want to learn to light...


July 11, 2006 8:47 AM  
Blogger boone said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

July 11, 2006 3:33 PM  
Blogger boone said...

I did it!

July 11, 2006 3:33 PM  
Anonymous gewitterkind said...

to the david asking about the ebay-triggers: have a look at the strobist discussion board at flickr. theres quite a long thread about them. the ones sold by gadget-infinity work like a charm, i am using them myself.

July 11, 2006 3:52 PM  
Blogger David said...

Thanks, I'll check that out.

I bought a set and they worked great. So I ordered another set and now I'm having trouble. It seems that I can set off 4 flashes, but only 3 sync. VERY frustrating.

July 11, 2006 5:56 PM  
Blogger si mata empat said...

thanks now i have another handy DIY gadget for my "half-way-almost-there" studio.


July 11, 2006 11:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about using a shower curtin liner from the dollar store instead of tracing paper. A little more money but might be more durable.


July 12, 2006 3:12 AM  
Anonymous DIO said...

Thanks for the great tips on macro photography. I'm just starting to get serious about photography and I've always wondered how the seamless backgrounds were done. Never realised it was so easy. Hahaha.

July 12, 2006 12:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very nicely done, works a charm. Some shots I took with my D70 + SB800 and your cheapy box:

July 12, 2006 1:36 PM  
Blogger inajeep said...

Beauty. I have been debating on doing something like this. Nice blog, think I'll stick around. : )

July 12, 2006 1:50 PM  
Anonymous ShopNewsBank said...

Very useful article. I run a shopping website and I'll definitely create my own lightbox to take closeup pix of the products.

Thanks a bunch!

July 13, 2006 1:20 PM  
Blogger Cristine said...

Looks great! I'll be testing it out soon!

July 15, 2006 12:25 AM  
Anonymous ruthdeb said...

David, you should put a link to this tutorial in your Lighting 101 and SSO-CLK pages.

July 17, 2006 7:37 PM  
Blogger Virágvölgyi István said...

I like this one too:

July 18, 2006 6:30 PM  
Blogger cj said...

thanks.. my example

July 19, 2006 10:59 AM  
Blogger cj said...

thanks.. my example

July 19, 2006 11:01 AM  
Anonymous MyWeddingMemoirs said...

I think this will look great when I do those wedding-related macro shots, but I'll need to find the time to set up the box.

July 19, 2006 12:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I submit the story to digg
Please add your duggs$10_Macro_Photo_Studio

July 19, 2006 4:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Spain...
Muy interesante, lo llevaré a la práctica. Ahora se como puedo fotografiar mis maquetas.

July 21, 2006 10:11 AM  
Blogger Niki said...

Thank you so much for this post. I've been wanting one of these forever but didn't want to spend the money on one ... and I never even thought of using a cardboard box! I'm going out tonight to get the supplies. :)

July 23, 2006 12:30 AM  
Anonymous ruthdeb said...

Here's a link to some more tips on product photography --- jewelry in particular. This appears to be a product photography-supply store. Nice discussion of lighting, although not using strobes.

Tabletop Studio on Jewelry Photography

Bet someone smart here could hack her directions for strobe use tho'.

July 31, 2006 8:55 PM  
Blogger Peter Parsons said...

Great idea! I've just updated my blog with my attempts at creating this little studio, I spent about an hour making it and shooting with it and Im really happy with the results.

Great tute!

August 04, 2006 10:00 AM  
Anonymous Noel Madali said...

Oh wow... I always wondered how in magazines they have these really nice cut out images... I guess I know how now =)

August 10, 2006 3:53 AM  
Anonymous moolder said...

Yeah we just built one after your example, burning now to do the first shots. Thanx for the inspiration, will mean a lot for our webshop :)

As to the "sidebar dropping to bottom" problem: Thats a CSS Issue with the float:right attribute of the div. If you really must, use a blind table instead of a floating div in your page design and everything should be fine.

August 21, 2006 3:45 PM  
Blogger kwongphotography said...

What a great idea! I have been thinking of purchasing a light tent, but after I saw this I was like, "DUH!" Why didn't I think of this before?

I did come up with one quick and easy way to make this idea even better though. If you were to build this out of PVC pipe like the Tinker Tube products, you would be able to not only make an inexpensive light tent, but also one that would be ADJUSTABLE to any size subject -- all you would need to do is change the length of the tubing. This would also be more durable than a cardboard box.

You could also put velcro on the PVC frame to attach whatever diffusion or colored fabrics (or any kind of material) you want to the sides, to make changing your studio setup even easier.

Thanks again for a great idea!

August 29, 2006 4:39 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Wonderful tutorial! I made a box of my own with facial tissue instead of tissue paper and it

September 26, 2006 8:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I missed something. Where do you put the white posterboard? On the back wall and bent to the ground?

October 03, 2006 4:01 PM  
Anonymous ruthdeb said...

Uh oh Strobist, looks like somebody outdid you on cheap -- $1 light-tent

October 16, 2006 8:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just discovered strobist and made my macro studio last night. I put a few of my first try photos up on my personal blog here.

I can't wait to get the rest of the lighting gear I ordered to try some of the other great off camera lighting ideas that I have read here. Thanks Dave!

October 31, 2006 12:03 AM  
Blogger natasha said...

ooooh i am so excited! i spin crazy yarns and do mixed media paintings, etc, etc, etc, and normally have to use the window and pray for okay weather on that side of the house for a nice crisp photo. i am really excited to scope out the rest of your blog. i would never just love you and leave you. you are just too good! if i am not there in the morning, i just ran out for some scones and coffee, okay?

November 13, 2006 4:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey - great article on the cardboard lightbox. I built one but am having problems with the image.
What size lens was used for your shots? I don't, as yet, have a macro lens.

November 29, 2006 9:54 AM  
Blogger Gordon said...

Thinking about building one of these, last night I had some sudden inspiration. U-Haul sell a wide variety of shapes and sizes of cardboard boxes for a dollar or so. These are a whole lot stronger than most boxes that have already gone through the mail/shipping and there's a wider variety of sizes than you might stumble across.

November 29, 2006 11:00 AM  
Blogger Charlie Styr said...

Thanks a lot for this, I can't believe how great that flower shot is. Really amazing, thanks!


November 30, 2006 2:52 PM  
Blogger mrbunsrocks said...

Thank you SO much! I've been wondering how to figure out reasonable lighting for my macro food shots. You are BRILLIANT.


December 02, 2006 8:31 PM  
Blogger timdesuyo said...


Thanks. I made one of these boxes this weekend just to try it out.

December 04, 2006 11:33 PM  
Anonymous Wolf said...

Am finding myself here thanks to Andy Wayne over at SwampRat,and gotta tell ya,I'll still respect ya in the morning,and even make you breakfast!Thanks for the info,and the laughs,you got a killer style of writing,and should add stand-up comedy to your resume!

December 17, 2006 1:37 PM  
Blogger Alora Sweetser said...

This is awesome!! I was just about to blow a hundred bucks on a lightbox! Now my hubby can make me one for free! Thanks soo much!!

January 04, 2007 1:47 PM  
Anonymous schmuck said...

David, thanks for doing this! I think I'll try this out sometime in the weekend!

January 08, 2007 12:43 AM  
Blogger electricman said...

Thank you very much for the lighting tips. Your work is outstanding.

January 10, 2007 3:52 PM  
Blogger azdesignstudio said...

Thanks for this awesome tutorial. I am just starting to learn, so I love great sources of info like this.

January 10, 2007 11:24 PM  
Blogger azdesignstudio said...

I'm really glad you did this, thank you.

January 10, 2007 11:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the technique!

Built it...tested it!

Here's a sample:

January 15, 2007 8:33 AM  
Blogger siri said...

I made my cheap lightbox!

Check it out at

January 22, 2007 10:51 AM  
Anonymous Roni said...

Allen Thinks sent me... this is so great I posted a link to my QuiltArt group!

January 25, 2007 2:39 PM  
Anonymous Photo Buffet said...

Can't wait to try this; it's just what I've been looking for. Cheap and practical! Thanks!

February 02, 2007 6:24 PM  
Blogger Emmanuel said...

Wanted to add my 2 cents to this, and also thank you for posting these directions! It definitely changed the quality of the pics I've taken since. This was the first pic I took using your instructions! However, I've humbly made a modification to your design since then: I now use sheets of hardened (but thin) felt in place of the tissue paper, as the latter tears far too easily. But Photo-wise, the results have been the same! Thanks again.


February 10, 2007 2:39 PM  
Anonymous Stephen Paulger said...

I made one out of an old portable TV box and some tissue paper.

Total Cost: $2 (australian dollars) for way more tissue paper than I used.

Out of the few photos I've taken so far I'm most pleased with this one although it could be improved.

Thanks for the idea.

February 18, 2007 12:47 AM  
Anonymous SLR said...

Very usefull site!!!Thumbs up!!!
I'm going out for some tissue paper:)

February 21, 2007 4:02 AM  
Blogger Ilja.S said...

Great and very useful post, thanks!
But one note: you say "Any bright lamp will do". Since I can't use my flash off camera I really tried to use lamps. I used 2 usual desk lamps with unusual (for desk lamps) bulbs of 100W and 150W. And I could not get the same good results as I get with flash even fired straight from the camera. Anyone who used lamps also please post your experience? Thanks.

February 23, 2007 9:09 AM  
Blogger noelle said...

this is the MOST useful little thing I have ever seen! thanks to malissa for pointing me here, your all bookemarked now!

VERY useful blog thanks so much!

February 23, 2007 9:27 AM  
Blogger jen said...

I read this and was making my box within an hour! It came out great. Thank you for the idea.

February 25, 2007 7:25 PM  
Anonymous Dani said...

I built my box today before and after work with a box i got from a kindly man at the Beer distributor, vellum paper (more expensive but i was too impatient to find a place that sold single peices of tracing paper and not a bajillion-pack), and duct tape. To ilja.s- i only took a couple shots tonight with it but all i have is a desk lamp. Mine turned out alright if not very bright. I'm starting to think, after pouring over this website, that investing in an off-camera flash might be worth the money and learnin' time. I'll have shots of my stick insects inside the box-o-light soon at Anyway, thanks, Strobist Man. It's been a while since i've been inspired to be crafty. I'm wondering how a sturdier light box can be made. I can see myself crushing this baby mighty easy.

February 26, 2007 3:58 AM  
Blogger shorys said...

like it ... built it ... shot it :)

March 01, 2007 4:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gracias por todo lo aprendido en tu pagina. Y que Dios te dé más para que compartas más. Roberto.

March 04, 2007 10:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great.. really.. really great! But um..well er.. you said tissue paper...and um I thought you meant loo paper... Thought it was a little messy, and all that tape was making the light box 'loos' it's effectiveness. Buying all that tape made it costly too. Tried to scrounge some off other boxes but found it almost impossible to remove with the sticky bit only, so the 'bottom' line is... Got anything cheaper!!! ;-)

March 10, 2007 3:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

someone did this already awhile back...

March 11, 2007 6:16 AM  
Blogger Je est un autre said...


March 13, 2007 12:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My 9 year-old just made the light tent and took some killer shots! Wow! Very impressed! Super simple and yielded professional looking pics. Many thanks from Texas!

March 13, 2007 10:53 PM  
Blogger perspective said...

Excellent idea and what effort put into sharing it all... thanks a lot! am gonna share it with everyone I know :)

March 14, 2007 9:10 AM  
Blogger Me said...

awesome, im gonna try this
thanks for sharing

March 15, 2007 11:42 PM  
Blogger yahya said...

Great set up! I just set up mine today! Check

March 16, 2007 5:58 AM  
Anonymous Kris Beldin said...

Great idea, very easy to do.


March 17, 2007 6:24 PM  
Blogger Becca said...

I don't think I've commented before but I just wanted to thank you real quick for this tute. I followed your instructions and love my lightbox. (I need better lights though.) I've recommended your blog to other people as well.
Thanks so much.

March 18, 2007 9:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say thanks so much for this awesome site. This tutorial has really helped me out.

Photography is a passion of mine, but I don't do it professionally. It's tips like these and others on your site that allow me to have fun without risking my marriage from expensive equipment purchases.


March 20, 2007 1:37 PM  
Blogger Darin said...

Thanks for the tutorial. I built mine today. I used some clear packing tape to add stability to the tissue paper sides and left the bottom intact. I've got some photos of the box and some example shots up on my site here:

Macro Box Photos

Now I just need to get some better lights. Got any cheap lighting tips? Incandescents just don't do the trick. Thanks again for the fabulous guide.

March 26, 2007 3:51 AM  
Anonymous Custom Photography said...

Aaron - That's how I do it. I snap a pic of the plain white background, or a gray card, inside the box with the lights on and then use that image to set the custom WB on my 30D.

March 27, 2007 3:43 PM  
Anonymous G. Chai said...

Perfect! Just the thing I have been looking for. Thanks so much.

March 29, 2007 1:02 AM  
Blogger Peter Bryenton said...

I am wondering if one of you off-camera strobe people would like to look at this extremely low budget project of mine:

It would be good to see a setup using a small flash, instead of the tungsten I used.

Peter Bryenton

April 01, 2007 2:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great information for a career that needs to be "jack of all trades" expected to know it all without the formal training that you need! What a great idea!


April 05, 2007 9:42 AM  
Blogger Andre said...

Thank you for sharing this!!!

April 07, 2007 10:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can use a clear plastic storage bin or container,which is alot more sturdy and will never break,bend or tear.These bins can be found in walmart or other places like dollar stores.They are used for storing clothes and such.Just take the cover off and place bin on it's side and tape white contruction paper to the back.You can also buy crepe paper and tape it on the sides to diffuse the light.
Here is a link to plastic bin,which is overpriced online but gives you idea what to look for.

Also Florescent lights at 5000K for photography can be bought in Home Depot,2 for $8. Bin might cost around $10 in Walmart,maybe more or less.Crepe paper is also there,just ask for the sheets and use a thickness of 2 sheets or more.
Also for gradient backgrounds,download paint shop pro and print out your own from Gradient backgrounds it has allready in it. :)

April 08, 2007 7:43 PM  
Blogger emeeul said...

Nice, thanks.

Question would one achieve product photos like in the New York Times magazine and other glossies? They are basic shots, but can be extremely large and appear to have shadows on the bottom. Are they taken from above a light table of some sort? I'd like to shoot clothing and large items this way.

April 10, 2007 4:22 PM  
Blogger Maarten said...

I just built this thing and took some gorgeous photos of trinkets lying around my room. This thing is awesome, thanks a million for putting this page up!

April 10, 2007 7:43 PM  
Blogger Pat said...

Is there such a thing as "too big" a light tent? I have a box which recently held my little son's newest carseat - substantially bigger than 12x12x12.

I can't think of a reason that it might be *too big* to use as a light tent - am I missing anything?

April 16, 2007 12:13 AM  
Blogger JAZEVOX said...

many thanks for sharing this great idea :-) i could definitely use this box for shooting some stuff we sell..i needed one! i luv your blog, ill be checking out your entries.

April 16, 2007 12:00 PM  
Anonymous Custom Photo Products said...

Good stuff! It doesn't really seem all that... complicated, but it's not something people would normally think to do themselves.

April 21, 2007 12:49 PM  
Blogger Cloverland Farm said...

thank you! i tried it out today in the 5 pm texas sun. see my blog:
will keep practicing!!! thanks again!

April 25, 2007 7:39 PM  
Blogger aries67 said...

Fantastic entry and love your sense of humour!

May 04, 2007 8:31 AM  
Blogger aries67 said...

Fantastic article. Love your sense of humour!

May 04, 2007 8:32 AM  
Anonymous RainBoy said...

Beautiful music in your video ! ^)
I want download it ^)
what's a music?

May 08, 2007 8:55 AM  
Anonymous Larry said...

two ideas...cut the bottom out of an old plastic milk jug, the small top could work as the tripod. Also has anyone ever tried using a lampshade?

May 22, 2007 6:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This photo box thing, you say "Besides, the arterial bleeding will saturate and weaken the cardboard."
Nonsense. My extensive experience says that the blood platelets bind the fibres of the carton just fine. It becomes virtually indestructable. Just adjust the camera lighting to deal with that strange dark spot.

May 24, 2007 1:33 AM  
Anonymous bolddeciever said...

I can't wait to put one of these together! I do original origami and other paper art, and photographing my work has always been a weak spot in my presentation. This should help a great deal.

May 27, 2007 7:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it works absolutely great. check this for the result. thanx for your inspiration!

June 03, 2007 11:48 AM  
Blogger Soblar said...

Check out my implementation:

June 03, 2007 12:16 PM  
Anonymous Tramadol 180 Tablets said...

hmm took me 4 days but now iam here and my good there are alot of nice things in here

June 09, 2007 9:35 AM  
Blogger Glasstastic Treasures said...

My previous lightbox was a Sterlite storage container. But it was too small. I just may have to try this one.

And you thought we wouldn't come back for more?

June 16, 2007 4:27 PM  
Blogger Euro said...

Hey ! I have been looking to do some macro shots and i just couldn't get the light right, so i googled HOW TO MACRO PHOTOGRAPHY and found your blog, am i glad i did! Thanx a bunch for the great DIY!

June 21, 2007 3:39 AM  
Blogger Katherine said...

Great post - and I'm highlighting it on my blog (for artists) on Saturday and am linking back here and providing proper credits.

I've copied your photo of the lightbox in action for the post (and linked that back too) - please let me know if that's not OK and/or whether you have an image I can use instead. I haven't built my lightbox yet!

Also I'd love to know you did the preamble to the comments....

July 12, 2007 6:49 AM  
Blogger Katherine said...

Here's my link to How to create a lightbox for macro photography of still life

July 14, 2007 6:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for the instructions, here's what i did based on this lightbox DIY tutorial :D

July 15, 2007 10:20 AM  
Blogger, Inc said...

I made a similar box but now I'm going to modify it as this is far easier and better. Thanks for the great instructions. I will try not to bleed on the cardboard.

July 26, 2007 2:57 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

This is awesome. I built this but I added some diffusing panels to take it one step further. I posted my results here:

PVC light box with diffusion

July 30, 2007 4:29 PM  
Blogger Cynthia Farr-Weinfeld, CHt. said...

What a great idea and simply explained and illustrated. You rock! Thanks!

August 24, 2007 10:11 AM  
Blogger Arverus said...


August 26, 2007 7:20 PM  
Anonymous ΛΙΜΝΗ ΠΛΑΣΤΗΡΑ said...

i'll try it as soon as i find the tracing paper and free time. Thanks

August 27, 2007 12:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will try it~*

August 30, 2007 11:15 AM  
Anonymous doruk kirezci said...

Thank You
For this box's works

September 02, 2007 6:11 AM  
Blogger Sally said...

Hi, I just saw your post on ETSY. I want to thank you so much, for the DIY on the photography. Hoping this will help me. I put so much work and heart into my items, and I can't take a picture for anything..... sallyscreations

September 10, 2007 5:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Built it, hated it, cardboard too weak, jumped up and down on it and it looks like this.

Went to the hardware store and defeated the $10 rule and spent $17, now it looks like this.

Took a bunch of pics and I got this.

There are a couple more there to look at.

Thank you,

September 10, 2007 7:57 PM  
Anonymous rin said...

So, I just built this today. Worked well with my cardboard, for I used a really sturdy box (I also reinforced the structure a bit with masking tape).

Here is a picture I took with it:

(Disclaimer: my camera is really, really bad. Honestly, what you see here in an insane improvement compared to all the noise-infested, not-uploaded shots previous macro endeavors have yielded)

So, thanks for the great idea! Can't wait to use this (with more light sources) in the future.

September 17, 2007 5:54 PM  
Blogger Ekio Locatiare said...

I recently found a link to you through Etsy and since I am selling jewelry I needed it! I just built mine and I'm thinking I may replace the tissue paper with velum I love the idea of tissue paper. changing the color of the tissue paper can give different color light effects with I love!

Thanks so much, I can't wait to use it now!

September 25, 2007 4:27 PM  
Anonymous Emmy Taylor (FlawedEmmy) said...

I'd like to say that I love you. This info rowks! I am taking a still life class at school and it has been a pain in the bootie... but this... just totally simplified my life... especially as a single mom to five kids... if you have any ideas on converting your garage into a studio on the cheap please let me know! LOL

September 28, 2007 3:46 PM  
Blogger Philip said...

GREAT DIY! Thank you =) Took me about an hour or so and less than $10, including a nice sturdy box. I'm so happy with the results so far =)

September 29, 2007 3:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just opened an account to sell some hand made items. It was there I learned about your tutorial. I really appreciate you sharing this information. I'm sure it's going to work great and best of all, it will help keep my start-up costs to a minimum. Thank you so much!

October 22, 2007 9:15 PM  
Blogger art4friends said...

thank you so much for an awesome awesome tutorial!!

i made my box tonight costing me 10c for the tissue paper and the results are amazing!

i cant wait to use the image!!

October 23, 2007 7:40 AM  
Blogger hiruma4 said...

nice pic ! And I was really enjoying your site.

October 25, 2007 10:08 AM  
Anonymous Sex Cam Lover said...

amazing studio :), keep on rocking peace!

October 26, 2007 7:53 PM  
Blogger andré henriques | Ah!photo said...

Looks great. I'm going to make one for myself :)
Did you find any difference glueing the tracing paper on the inside or the outside of the cardboard?

November 07, 2007 4:58 AM  
Blogger Creative Catharsis said...

This is awesome! Thank you for helping studio-less photography lovers/doers like myself....

November 07, 2007 5:13 PM  
Blogger The BeadKeeper said...

Check out my blog about my awesome light box (thanks to you and only you!!)at

Thanks so much!

November 14, 2007 11:45 AM  
Blogger threemuses said...

Thank you so much! I can
t wait to build and use my own light box.

November 25, 2007 8:18 PM  
Blogger LizzyT said...

Thank you so much for a great tutorial. I sell on Etsy and have been looking for something like this.

December 02, 2007 4:14 AM  
Anonymous chips said...

thats good as im ganna try that out.

wats that song called used in the video?

December 20, 2007 4:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thats good as im doin that.

wats the song used in the video called?

December 20, 2007 4:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I, an all-thumbs beginner, can actually make this simple lightbox for the books I am selling on eBay. Thanks so much for thinking about 'us' klutzes out here. Great idea with simple materials. My kind of person.

December 28, 2007 3:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is great! I've been looking for this DIY for quite a while. Thank you so much!

January 04, 2008 3:59 PM  
Blogger mettle design studio said...

i just wanted to say a big thank you for the instruction. i am certain that my macro photos (i am but an amateur) will imrove alot due to the lighting!

January 12, 2008 9:14 AM  
Anonymous Tom E said...

I need to take photos of our candles and soaps and would appreciate any photography tips you could share with me. The light box was constructed, two 250 watt bulbs provide the lighting. Under this lighting all the photos turn out dark and the white background appears an ugly yellow. I am using a Kodak 703 digital camera. Any help is appreciated!

Tom E

January 26, 2008 7:35 PM  
Blogger TomCat said...

I need to take photos of our candles and soaps and would appreciate any photography tips you could share with me. The light box was constructed, two 250 watt bulbs provide the lighting. Under this lighting all the photos turn out dark and the white background appears an ugly yellow. I am using a Kodak 703 digital camera. Any help is appreciated!

Tom E

January 26, 2008 7:37 PM  
Anonymous Saturday Stu said...

Hmmm, what if you have a really shaky hand and even cut your fingers just trying to cut stamps off envelopes? It's a great idea but I'm going to have to pass this one on to my girlfriend to do.

February 01, 2008 2:45 PM  
Blogger inspectorfegter said...

This is a great tutorial! This helped me land a huge job when I had no experience in product photography. Check out a sample of how I made this box work for me.

Thanks for helping all of us out!

February 09, 2008 4:52 PM  
Blogger Royston Kane said...

This was a ZERO cost to me. Everything was inhouse!! Thany you!

February 15, 2008 3:29 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

I tried your plan and it works great. Thanks for the tip.

February 18, 2008 12:29 PM  
Blogger kewpiedoll99 said...

Thanks for the how-to! I got a nice camera recently and am glad to find additional (low-cost) ways to make my pictures turn out better. This was very helpful...

February 24, 2008 5:21 PM  
Anonymous dirq said...

I'm going to make a huge one to hold people.

March 14, 2008 3:30 PM  
Blogger Rosalie said...

Genius! I was able to make this no problem and the photos I'm able to take now are awesome. Thanks so much for putting this together.!

March 20, 2008 7:38 PM  
Blogger Cris Melo/Meloearth said...

I've had this page in my favorites for a looooong time. One of these days I'm going to get this done, as it's always on the back of my mind. Thanks so much for teaching us how to do this!!

April 05, 2008 10:23 AM  
Anonymous boaz wibowo said...

very cool

April 05, 2008 11:56 PM  
Blogger Dan Ponjican said...

Thanks for the tip... I tried it last night and has pretty good results!
My Light Box Attempt - Blog Post

April 07, 2008 2:32 PM  
Blogger Anirban Brahma said...

Thanks a Zillion! I have made this 2day and took this picture!
The result is damn good! Thank u so much!

April 15, 2008 3:18 PM  
Blogger Chicken Ball said...

man! This is a great tip! I will try it and post a result.

Thank you for sharing!


April 19, 2008 11:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I needed to photograph an area that covers more than one poster-board, what should I use to avoid seeing the seam created by two poster-boards taped side-by-side?

May 05, 2008 11:06 AM  
Blogger Frequent Reader said...

I love this blog, thanks for sharing.
Goerge - Ya76oo,

May 15, 2008 6:40 AM  
Blogger Stew said...

What a great idea. I will be giving this a try!

May 17, 2008 4:58 PM  
Anonymous Did You Know? said...

thanks for this very great tutorial in your article. very great!!!

May 18, 2008 3:02 AM  
Anonymous Wise Owl said...

Cool photos.Great job.Thank you.

May 20, 2008 10:36 AM  
Blogger khoggie said...

Great article. I am looking into photographing some jewelry and needed a softbox but didn't want to spend the money to buy one. This article was very helpful and informative. I imagine this is really well read. I was referred to this blog from a friend of mine in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

May 21, 2008 2:03 PM  
Blogger Victor said...

Thanks a lot for this tutorial! I'm planning to try it out soon. What I'm wondering is what kind of light is it that you're using? I'm looking for something similar, needs to be small.

Thanks again! :)

June 09, 2008 2:42 AM  
Anonymous Hector said...

Thanks for this post It was great. I made my own using the same concept but I wanted to make it reusable, and larger so I used PVC for the frame and Muslin instead of the tracing paper.

Check it out..

June 10, 2008 12:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


For the love of God, get Firefox!!! It's free, and a million times better than IE! Unless of course, you enjoy your browser being hi-jacked, virus', trojans, malware, your identity stolen, you bank account hacked, and a sluggish, unreliable corporate enslaved bogus POS software that is IE!!! Seriously, join us, IE is crap on a stick. And-- there are more FF users than you think! Open source is the only way to surf.

June 10, 2008 3:11 AM  
Blogger yngla said...

Thanks a bunch! Great tutorial!

June 12, 2008 4:23 AM  
Anonymous Adam said...

I just wired together old cloth hangers and made a frame and tape white project board so it looked like a box. My work is on
its under gallery and photoshop props.

June 12, 2008 6:36 PM  
Anonymous Vince said...

Like most strobist stuff...absolutely ridiculous!

If you want to photograph, spend some money on REAL studio strobes and REAL light modifiers instead of this silly junk.

June 13, 2008 3:41 PM  
Blogger andré henriques | Ah!photo said...

@Vince: do you have a photostore and are afraid of loosing money? I have commercial stuff, and I also have DIY stuff. Sometimes you can't tell apart the results.
So it is your post that is ridiculous. At least be man enough to leave an email or somehing!

June 13, 2008 4:06 PM  
Blogger maudlin~*~maudlin said...

Awesome post! Thank-you so much! I'm off to make my light box right now..

June 21, 2008 2:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks so much. I didn't even make a good box, and my pictures are coming out so great. I really appreciate the time to you took to share this.

June 21, 2008 11:29 PM  
Anonymous Ben Licher said...

Just thank you for the great tip!

June 22, 2008 3:08 AM  
Anonymous zadil said...

You really inspire me to make my own light box.

Check this out. Unfortunately, I still don't have macro lens.

DIY Macro Studio

June 28, 2008 11:47 PM  
Anonymous zadil said...

(sorry wrong link)

You really inspire me to make my own light box.

Check this out. Unfortunately, I still don't have macro lens.

DIY Macro Studio

June 29, 2008 10:48 AM  
Anonymous myeventures said...

Oh my gosh! I am so glad I ran across this post. I've been trying to take pics of my handcrafted jewelry all day. The background (no matter what I put it up against) keeps turing pinkish. I'm still learning photoshop, so I'm not making much progress. I was just searching for a better price on one of those photo studios (out of desperation) when I ran across your instructions. Brilliant! I'm going to go get a box and posterboard. I'm still not sure what tungsten is though...I'll have to look it up. Thank you so much for posting these directions!!!

July 05, 2008 8:55 PM  
Anonymous Jen said...

Man, I never even thought of that. I've just gotten my first DSLR and I've been struggling to get decent lighting for macro shots. I'm going to look through my place for a decent sized box and get to work. Thanks for the tips!

July 14, 2008 6:38 PM  
Blogger Lizzle said...

This is awesome! I just used your tutorial and made one for my small business through Etsy. I make earrings and my husband makes chain maille and we needed something like this to take macro photos for listings! I did make one thing different, I used packing tape and basically laminated the outside of the tissue paper because we have a cat umm yeah. Thanks so much for posting this! Now if I didn't get rid of that desk lamp, I'll be all set!

July 15, 2008 3:51 PM  
Blogger serahs said...

This is a great tutorial. I wasn't able to buy all the stuff that you have but just the ideas helped me create some great photos. I've even gotten compliments for my photography. I owe the credit to this blog.

July 22, 2008 1:42 AM  
Anonymous Cindy Lietz, Polymer Clay Tutor said...

Thank you for the fantastic and simple Tute! I have been having problems with having too much natural light (sky lights and glass doors) causing shadows and light spots on my beads. I think this should solve the problem!!

July 26, 2008 9:12 PM  
Anonymous Johanna's Designer Jewelry said...

I have been using this technique for a long time to photograph my jewelry! More recently, I tacked together some scrap pieces of wood for a frame so it would be more durable. It works great!

August 15, 2008 11:09 AM  
Blogger Melissa said...

I know I'm like the hundredth person to comment, but thanks so much! I don't know a thing about photography, I just kept getting frustrated when I took pics of my jewelry and the lighting looked all weird. This is fantastic, I really didn't have the cash for $120 pro one. Yay! I can just get this stuff from anywhere, heck, my husband's reading light should be fine. Thanks again!

August 18, 2008 5:52 PM  
Blogger Pendulum_Bob said...

Thanks! great blog!

August 19, 2008 5:56 AM  
Anonymous Trisha Cullen said...

You are good man Charlie Brown!
I am starting a non-profit organization for people with Autism and Rett Syndrome. My daughter has been diagnosed with Retts now for 8 years (it took MD's 8 years to find her diagnosis). Anyways, I am starting a website and have been selling on Ebay with terrible photos which I know have been hurting my sales. SO... THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, from a low budget non-profit! Every penny counts! Sincerely, Trisha Cullen

September 01, 2008 3:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow this is amazingly awesome. A friend is going to need some shots of some stuff she makes and sells and this will make life so much easier, thanks for that awesome blog!

September 06, 2008 8:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

es maravillosisisisisiiimoooo me ayudo en un trabajo de foto gracias..!!!

September 08, 2008 11:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just saw this light tent that would be a little more sturdy:

I like how it breaks down into a bundle of tubes so that it can be easily transported. And with PVC being so cheap this seems like a no-brainer.


September 09, 2008 4:00 AM  
Blogger aGinger said...

Wow, that's great! I'll try it as soon as I have time :) Thank you for the tips!

September 10, 2008 1:36 PM  
Anonymous aswart said...

very nice information there :)

September 10, 2008 2:34 PM  
Blogger Snitterdog said...

Wonderful tutorial! Thanks so much for the great info! :)

September 16, 2008 11:49 AM  
Blogger TiLT said...

Thank you - thank you - thank you!
I really needed this this after reshooting and editing 50 items, with 5 views each, 3 times!

September 21, 2008 10:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dont understand what material is used to cover the big holes? tracing paper or card sheet? why is the need of the black card box?

thanks for clearing in advance :)

October 03, 2008 6:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh and sorry about this one more question, how do i get a seelmess backdrop? the infinity sort of horizon line visible?
If i keep the card box, like i have seen, wont i get reflections at the place where it is curving?

please to explain this thanks!

October 03, 2008 6:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the awesome tutorial. You answered a question that I had about how to go about this type of photography that I didn't know where to ask.


October 03, 2008 12:27 PM  
Blogger NomadRip said...

Thanks for posting this! I've had it saved for some time, being a complete beginner. Your entire site has so much good info on it, so I'll be scouring it regularly! Here's a picture of our new virtually free macro box. The camera in the pic IS our "good camera", so you can see, we're literally starting from scratch :-)

October 04, 2008 1:02 PM  
Anonymous Jamie W. said...

Oh MY MY!! Well, here's something you real photographers can laugh at. Hey, we all had to start somewhere! I'm a paper crafter (will stamp or alter any item not capable of moving). I WANTTTTT this great light and I can manage to make the box. However, here's the scoop: I have a 10 MP Pentax camera. It gets great pics but most times unless I'm outside, my items look like I took them at twilight. I guess I need to learn about the ISO balance because my pictures come out yellow looking too often. My question is, what lights should I get to start??

Thanks for any and all suggestions. This little light box looks like a dream!

October 04, 2008 2:59 PM  
Anonymous SEO Company said...

Excellent post. Thanks for sharing.

October 14, 2008 1:23 AM  
Anonymous Serena said...


I used double-sided tape for the tracing paper but it still works either way.

Thanks so much :)

October 18, 2008 3:19 AM  
Anonymous Ken Hanscom said...

Awesome! I used this guide to help build my Macro Studio with some slight modifications for my needs.


October 24, 2008 1:46 PM  
Anonymous Hollywood Wallpapers said...

I'm used to solve easily my illumination problem you are an inspiration..

nice blog keep it up...

Celebrity Wallpapers

October 31, 2008 12:58 AM  
Blogger piccoladonna2006 said...

You have been tagget

November 05, 2008 11:48 AM  
Anonymous AnimeShippuuden said...

I'm used to solve my illumination problem and you are an inspiration.

Thanks and Regards,

November 06, 2008 5:21 AM  
Blogger Shopgirl said...

You made this so easy for me, I can hardly wait to get somewhere tomorrow and buy what I need.
You are a good teacher,
Thank You, Mary

November 13, 2008 1:02 AM  
Blogger CandyinColorado said...

I started an online Jewelry Store (my website HTML was hand written by me). Photographing the stuff I make was a terrible experience. Even Photoshop didn't help much. Being retired and on a fixed income we couldn't afford a light tent.
I'm SO glad I found your website. This will help enormously. I mean you can't sell great quality jewelry if it photographs looking like sheer junk !
We're gonna' go buy posterboards, tissue paper, a light, and a sturdy box later today.
I'll post again after I see how this works but I'd bet anything that it works great.
Thank You So Much !
- Candy

November 15, 2008 10:17 AM  
Anonymous juliaemily said...

So needed thanks!!

November 16, 2008 4:29 PM  
Anonymous Multiplepursenality said...

I have been looking for instructions like this and am so glad to have stumbled onto this website! The pictures in my humble little shop look so sad and now I'm inspired to do something about it. Thank you so much for posting this and all the other helpful info you have provided! So very appreciated!


November 20, 2008 8:03 PM  
Blogger pauljs75 said...

I just made one myself after seeing this site. Pretty neat. For now, I'm settling for longer exposures because all I've got in the way of lights are those CF coils in cheap desk lamps. At least the programmable white balance in my point-and-shoot cam works well enough. I'll probably use daylight as well, since I have access to one room with good southern exposure.

LOL @ the "Feebay" description in one of the other comments. How true. Thats the main plan for this lightbox as well. Recycle some junk to help sell other junk. Not too bad a plan. :)

I'm also considering buying some of those white plastic garbage bags and replacing the tissue paper on mine with plastic cut from those for more durability. But alas, tissue paper was cheap at the dollar store and you can get more than enough for the money. (40 sheet bundle for a $1.)

Also when taping the tissue paper to the sides, do the corners first with small strips. That way you can get it taught. (And painters tape allows for some adjustment.) Then another small strip on each side. And finally that strip going all the way across.

November 23, 2008 12:09 AM  
Blogger Zeekid said...

I've got a quick question regarding the best way of lighting the lightbox. I have 2 daylight balanced CFL bulbs. I've tried taking pictures but they don't quite "pop".

Is the best way to use multiple strobes?

November 26, 2008 7:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I Just made and used one of these boxes today. I like the results. Areas to improve... the inside cardboard brown color showed up in subject (spoon) reflection. I needed to reposition the spoon to avoid problem. I may spray paint the inside of the box a white color to prevent this problem in the future.

Also, has anybody got ideas about effective ways to suspend a strobe 'ABOVE' this box?
I had to hand hold during today's shoot.

here are two (somewhat successful) practice shots today:


November 29, 2008 11:43 PM  
Blogger Russell said...

Thanks for the tips! I made mine out of wood in about four total hours.

Check out my just-built shot of the $63 lightbox:

December 01, 2008 2:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is great i have also taken some shots.

December 10, 2008 3:40 AM  
OpenID anchovylove said...

Thank you so much for posting this! I was considering purchasing a light tent, but was put off by the cost. A friend linked me to your site and I decided to give it a try; I'm so glad I did! I constructed a light box and posted my thoughts and test shots in this entry on my blog.

December 10, 2008 9:35 PM  
Blogger Pinyakuy said...

After your post I made own marco-box from archive folder and white t-shirt

December 14, 2008 10:58 AM  
Anonymous Bakari said...

Thanks for this. Here's mine. I'm usually all thumbs when it comes to DYI gadgets, but this one was cool to do. Only spent $3.50 (for the box!)

December 16, 2008 2:06 AM  
Anonymous Chirstine & Eric said...

We made use of this how to and posted the results on our Flickr. here they are if you want to look at them.

December 19, 2008 6:11 AM  
Blogger Ivy said...

Thanks very much for the very useful information. Shall start making a book soon.

January 12, 2009 4:45 AM  

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