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DIY: Slightly Different Lightbox

Amanda has been posting a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff lately. Personally, I find stuff like that terribly interesting. I have an obsession with breaking that fourth wall. I want a peek behind the curtain, always. Christmas was a hard time for me as a kid, guys.

I have been using a wee pop-up lightbox for a while, but its small and awkward and I hate it a little. I decided, in the theme of "behind the scenes" I would build myself a lightbox, and share it with all of you!

A cardboard box of some sort
tissue paper/fabric/white printer paper
a sharpie
tape (clear packing tape will be easiest)
(not pictured: box cutter)

Step One: Assemble Your Box

This step is self explanatory. Start taping it up. Now, you can save yourself some cutting if you decide now which side you want to have open...which I failed to do. (I would leave one end untaped, and cut all the flaps off, were I to have another go at this.)

Pro tip:
keep your pen on the free edge of your tape so you don't spend an hour picking it off the roll. It'll also keep it from rolling off the table.

Step Two: Plan and Cut

Draw out the shape you want. I found a lightbox tutorial for food photography, and decided to give that a shot. It has an open back/top area, and allows for an interchangeable backdrop. (But in a few days, I will have a tutorial for making a traditional lightbox up.)

Take your box cutter (and not an old steak knife) and start cutting along the lines. You can save the triangular bit, as it makes a great dustbin for cleaning up the cardboard dust.

kids weren't home. I'm just weird.

Step Three: Paper

Once you have your shapes cut out, start applying paper to the inside.  I lined my box with printer paper, then layered tissue paper over the top of that. It's a little tedious, but it is worth making everything smooth.

When you get to laying your paper/fabric over the top, this is where the original tutorial I followed deviates from the norm a bit. It said to tape the top down, but not the bottom, so that you can lift it up and replace the backdrop as needed. I kinda love this idea. As long as you cut the back high enough, product/bottle shots won't show the seam, and your hand will generally be high enough that its above the seam. I used tissue paper for this, but I think I'd like to go get a 1/4 yard of bleached muslin instead...this is just asking to be torn apart.

Step Four: Take Pictures!

I wanted to test it on polish...of course. So I grabbed the only purple I truly love, because purples always give me trouble. These were taken with identical lights and an identical camera. The only things that are different are the positions of the lights, the box I used, and the time of day. Which one do you like better?

left: old box/right: new box

Because I also like taking pictures of things other than my hands, I decided to test it out with some tiny The Walking Dead toys. Here we see a fairly well lit Carl being emo over the corpse of some zombie chick. Typical.

And what it looks like from the outside! I really need a desk/table/corner to do my polish stuff in, but for the time kitchen table is all I've got.


  1. Please tell me where you got those lamp things

    1. I bought them from a photographer friend, but you can get similar ones from Amazon for a decent price.

  2. I like the new box photos! I'm one that likes a little glare on the nails because it makes them look shiny and pretty, but the old box seemed to give the bottle a glare too, which I'm not a big fan of. I've got a box and have been planning to make my lightbox this weekend - I may have to follow your plan!

    1. I had to readjust my hand in this box, and I think the previous position was causing the glare. (it bugged me too!) I have one other style of lightbox I want to try still, I kist havent gotten around to building it.


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