Shop Etsy

Forty’s Foto Tips, #2: Make a light box!

Sep 20, 2007

by Chillionaire handmade and vintage goods

Ahoy! Thanks for stopping by my advice column in The Storque. I’m no professional photographer, but I figured that would just make it easier for me to pass on some fun and simple tips that can help anyone! If you have any suggestions, please feel free to email me at Here’s the first tip. Come back soon for more installments!

Tip #2: Make a light box!

We made one for the Etsy Labs using things found around the office and some info from Here’s the Instructable: "Costless Macro Photography Light Box" by PetervG.

They’re tres economical and make a world of difference in your photos! Try to find yourself an easily portable lamp. It doesn’t have to be battery operated, but small desk lamps with telescopic parts can really make lighting your pieces much less stressful, and you can drag it all over your house. Lighting is essential when trying to take up-close images and a flash will create unwanted glare. Make sure your head or camera isn’t between the light and the object or you will get an awkward shadow. I find it’s best to set up the light box on a table so you don’t kill your back contorting yourself to take pictures on the floor. Once you have a light box set up and ready to roll, practice using the macro setting on your camera, if you have one. 


This will allow you to get nice and close but still have a clear picture. If you don’t have a "close up" setting, try standing back from the object and zooming in.


  • christysquilts

    christysquilts said 11 years ago

    I made one very similar to the one you have posted: differences, I used white posterboard for the sides/back instead of cutting holes in the box and I put the lights on the front - pointing at the top and walls not directly at the item to prevent shadows. Light boxes work great! (same item as pictured from the above set up)

  • christysquilts

    christysquilts said 11 years ago

    ooops, i forgot to include the pic i was mentioning:

  • knuckletoes

    knuckletoes said 11 years ago

    Why this never occurred to me, I do not know, thanks for the tip!

  • WarmandFuzzyBaby

    WarmandFuzzyBaby said 11 years ago

    Thank you ofr the tips. Photography is my biggest weakness.

  • beadbooty

    beadbooty said 11 years ago

    Thank you. I see a light box in my future!

  • hookinmama

    hookinmama said 11 years ago

    This is such a wonderful ideal! I have been taking my pics outside, but I think this is great for when you can't get out or you find something late at night that you just have to list right then and there. I am definitely going to try this!

  • beadbooty

    beadbooty said 11 years ago

    I made my lightbox this week and it has made a tremendous difference in my photos. I'll never be a great photographer but at least my photos will now reflect the true beauty of the pieces I work hard to create.

  • kjoo

    kjoo said 11 years ago

    This was very useful I need something like that!Thank you so much for sharing!

  • LobesOfFun

    LobesOfFun said 11 years ago

    I am quite appreciative that you put this up for us. The link easy to access and read. I just found Etsy and love the community within. Creative people are awesome!

  • Chillionaire Admin

    Chillionaire said 11 years ago

    I'm glad everyone is enjoying this tip! If you have any photos of your homemade light boxes or pics that you've taken using your light box, feel free to link us so we can see how well they turned out xo

  • addition

    addition said 11 years ago

    Make sure you get a daylight balanced bulb for your pics,not a tungsten and that you put your camera on daylight setting. Play with the setting in your camera, you can pick from vivid-more color saturation or standard. I would highly recommend getting the amateur photoshop, it can cure many photo ills! See my photos! additions for your walls

  • coffeelatte

    coffeelatte said 11 years ago

    Thank you - living in the NW, it can be pretty grey outside and I am not happy with a lot of my inside shots. This will be a real help -- and thanks, too, for the note about choosing the right bulb!

  • dorkdesigns

    dorkdesigns said 11 years ago

    Thanks for the tip. I will be making a lighting box tonite

  • carriekim

    carriekim said 11 years ago

    Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

  • jmillen

    jmillen said 11 years ago

    AHHH, thanks for this! I made a light box from another site and it just didn't do the trick. It said to light thru the tissue paper sides... I had lights all over the place, my pics were better but still not great!

  • jumpinstego

    jumpinstego said 11 years ago

    thanks for the lightbox tips! very helpful. a question: who makes those amazing necklaces with state-shaped pendants??? i want one.

  • Nafsika

    Nafsika said 11 years ago

    Very useful article indeed!!!

  • TiTasTreasures

    TiTasTreasures said 10 years ago

    This is very helpful! After my shop was critiqued I was pretty bummed bc I need to work on some of my photos...and at the time I didnt know how...ta da!!! THANKS!

  • SunriseCreationsInc

    SunriseCreationsInc said 10 years ago

    Thanks for the tips. Getting good pictures is a challenge and though mine are getting better, I think a light box would be a big help. thanks!

  • joannafaithdesigns

    joannafaithdesigns said 10 years ago

    I can't wait to make mine!

  • patricewright

    patricewright said 10 years ago

    I made one! It works so well, I can't believe how much better my pics look. mine works best when I use it outside. I put a white sheet over the top so I dont have shadows.

  • LeverageDesigns

    LeverageDesigns said 10 years ago

    Thanks so so much.

  • AmandaYuDesign

    AmandaYuDesign said 10 years ago

    Thanks a lot! It's a very helpful lesson :))) *bow*

  • SixSkeins

    SixSkeins said 10 years ago

    Brilliant. I know what I'll be making this weekend! I have wondered for so long how people get their lighting and backgrounds so wonderful - thanks for sharing the secrets!

  • noelya

    noelya said 10 years ago

    Thanks for the advice.

  • BebeToby

    BebeToby said 10 years ago

    Thanks for sharing the great tips!

  • braziliansparadise

    braziliansparadise said 10 years ago

    Amazing !! thanks for sharing :) I cant wait to try one out

  • ArtsOfTheOzarks

    ArtsOfTheOzarks said 10 years ago

    Love this idea! I have to try this!

  • IrenaSophia

    IrenaSophia said 10 years ago

    Thank you for the tip. I will definitely make one.

  • dshekhter

    dshekhter said 10 years ago

    Thanks for the help!

  • lynnetteart

    lynnetteart said 10 years ago

    So simple yet very effective!

  • MonasMane

    MonasMane said 10 years ago

    Lol! I want to laugh because this so easy and cheap- and perfect for me. I was stressing on lighting since I can't really afford anything extensive, you know since I'm a broke college student and all...(-:

  • kohlcass

    kohlcass said 10 years ago

    Perfect for when I want to take photos in the midle of the night, i.e. every day. Thank you!

  • kohlcass

    kohlcass said 10 years ago


  • jurphy

    jurphy said 10 years ago

    Thanks so much - I am going to try this tonight!!

  • AuntTiff

    AuntTiff said 10 years ago

    I was desperately trying to figure out why everyone's photo's look so good and mine didn't. Thank you, I am building a light box tomarrow!

  • loopiforyou

    loopiforyou said 10 years ago

    I made a lightbox yesterday! I love it and am currently updating my old dark and blurry photos for new crisper bright ones! THANKS!!! I also found that using my camera with a 10 second timer on a tripod helped a lot.

  • enchantedpond

    enchantedpond said 10 years ago

    that's totally great ... i am a photographer and i like it alot !!! :)

  • madisonssparrow

    madisonssparrow said 10 years ago

    Thanks so much...I'm just starting out and need all the help I can get!

  • thatspretty

    thatspretty said 10 years ago

    ooohh I'm so excted for sleepless nights when I just cannot wait to take that photo!!!!!

  • thepaintedsparrow

    thepaintedsparrow said 10 years ago

    Thanks! I am going to get the supplies right now:)

  • sstarlaa

    sstarlaa said 10 years ago

    I have the lamps, just not the box! I like the poster board idea. Really helpful!

  • memorycatchers

    memorycatchers said 10 years ago

    Thanks for the tip. I'm just getting started and I've already been told my photos are too blurry. My problem is that I have shiny glittery glass ware that I am trying to photograph. I'll be trying this tomorrow to see if it works better.

  • KimmareeJewelree

    KimmareeJewelree said 10 years ago

    I love this idea. I started to make mine a week ago. I seen this idea on another website and felt that this was great since money is tight.

  • PeaceComesInHandy

    PeaceComesInHandy said 10 years ago

    This tip has given me such joy! Thanks so much.

  • KentwoodKreations

    KentwoodKreations said 10 years ago

    Thanks for the tips.I cant wait to make my lightbox and try it.

  • GlazedOver

    GlazedOver said 10 years ago

    I'm curious to know whether this will work for very vertical pottery pieces. Does anyone have any experience with this or specific tips that can help?

  • YourSpecialCharm

    YourSpecialCharm said 10 years ago

    Thanks for all the good ideas! I'm going to make a box tonight as my photos are always cut off or too dark, etc. I love this format!

  • ContagiousCreations

    ContagiousCreations said 10 years ago

    This is such a great necessity! Unfortunately I had made one but was getting frustrated with the unusual size of box i used and I threw it out! :( I need to make another, pictures are not the same without the!

  • scottshandmadecrafts

    scottshandmadecrafts said 10 years ago

    I had read about making a light box, but thought it was too complicated. Now I'm all set to give it a try. I definetely need one since my house seems to be too dark for photos without a flash, even by a window.

  • CRe8n4uByLiSa

    CRe8n4uByLiSa said 10 years ago

    How very sweet of you to share you wonderful ideas! Hope you're having a great day. Lisa >^..^<

  • InspirationByFlorna

    InspirationByFlorna said 10 years ago

    I definitely would like to try and make the light box! Thanks for the advice!

  • nichan

    nichan said 10 years ago

    if you really care about the photo make sure you buy portable lamp husband bought me as cheap as possible (doesn't matter the quality). It's broken within some weeks (T_T). it's a waste

  • LaCasita

    LaCasita said 10 years ago

    I am new to Etsy and have uploaded some stuff. . .took more pictures this morning. . .but I wish I would have read this first! . . .Logical, Easy, and Necessary if I'm gonna stay here! . . Thanks for the info!!!

  • simplewhimsies

    simplewhimsies said 10 years ago

    Sooooo helpful! I am just setting up my shop today and haven't started with photography yet, I think you've saved me some BIG headaches! Thanks for the info...

  • SavonShoppe

    SavonShoppe said 10 years ago

    I finally made my light box have yet to use so I appreciate the tips on where/where not to put camera. Thanks

  • CreativeArtCenter

    CreativeArtCenter said 10 years ago

    I'm going to make a box tomorrow. My photos are always dark or yellow. Thank you very much for your help.

  • jmliss

    jmliss said 9 years ago

    This is great!! Thanks! No more rain outs now!!

  • VantasticDesigns

    VantasticDesigns said 9 years ago

    I use an empty closet. I removed all the clothes, placed a floor lamp that directs the light upwards, then have 2 lights, one to each side. Then I place a small table in the closet. It is so easy to change the backround...I have a yard each of black, white and gray fabric that I can drape over the table and voila! a miniature photo studio. I keep a bin in the closet with all sorts of props. When I am ready to shoot some new items everything is right in the closet ready to go!(It really helps to have the floor lamp!)

  • EelKat

    EelKat said 9 years ago

    I'll be making one of these in the next day or so. Thanks for the tip!

  • TodoCecilia

    TodoCecilia said 9 years ago


  • wildcubs

    wildcubs said 9 years ago

    Pretty cool info. Editing photo information was every useful to me.

  • sivansart

    sivansart said 9 years ago

    You light my imagination!! Thanks Sivan

  • studiomeeshel

    studiomeeshel said 9 years ago

    Thank you so much, Chillionaire! This is such an awesome idea, I'm gonna make one tonight and try to redo some or all of my photos. By tomorrow, my shop should see a much needed improvement! :)

  • TheNightjar

    TheNightjar said 9 years ago

    great thanks a bunch

  • studiomeeshel

    studiomeeshel said 9 years ago

    Thanx again, my pics look so much better this time around :D

  • AmaliArt

    AmaliArt said 9 years ago

    Thnak you for sharing, I'll try to make one too, I'm sure it will help me with my pics

  • newsprout

    newsprout said 9 years ago

    Still need help! I made a light box this weekend and it did not work. I was bummed. My picutes turned out terrible. Still looks like indoor pictures, either too washed out or too dark. No depth to the photos, just flat and dim looking. I used poster foam board and two lights with bright white bulbs. What am I doing wrong?

  • mssewsavvy

    mssewsavvy said 9 years ago

    newsprout, what settings are you using on the camera? that may be the cuprit. I have been advised to set it to AWB-all white balance...check the camera's manual

  • LondonParticulars

    LondonParticulars said 9 years ago

    A world of difference!

  • druidsden

    druidsden said 9 years ago

    Newsprout, photographing glass can be very complicated. Tanslucent glass often looks best when iluminated from below by a hidden (from the camera) by a narrow beam of light. Try using a light pointing up. Cut a round hole in cardnoard approximately the size of the object you want to light. Place the cardboard with the hole several inches above the light and hang yout object far enough above the hole that the hole will not be seen in the picture. A lightbox with the hole cut in the bottom works well. If your camera has a manual exposure option use it. Take a test picture. If it is too dark use a longer (slower) shutter speed, if too light use a shorter (faster)shutter speed. If the picture looks too dull or grey try to eliminate any stray light. Use only the light coming through the hole. Use a tripod.

  • cozettebyclearcat

    cozettebyclearcat said 9 years ago

    Thanks for great tip~!!

  • HighsmithStudio

    HighsmithStudio said 9 years ago

    Very informative and great tips. Will try the lightbox to see if it makes my purses pop.

  • maggiestringsbeads

    maggiestringsbeads said 9 years ago

    Love the lite box idea - tried it, but everything is yellowish... Is there a certain kind of lite bulb I should be using? Thanks!

  • catibug

    catibug said 9 years ago

    Thank you for the infomation I know my photos need help and this is a great start thank you again

  • HummingbyrdJewelry

    HummingbyrdJewelry said 9 years ago

    I'm definitely going to give this a try. I've been having a heck of a time with photos. All of the materials I work with are reflective which makes glare a serious problem. And then adjusting the exposure in iPhoto made everything yellow. I've got to try this and get the right bulb too.

  • MadAboutYarn

    MadAboutYarn said 9 years ago

    thanks for the tips. Will try it out!

  • tiffany300

    tiffany300 said 9 years ago

    I made one... It came out a little better then this one. This one looks like it's seen better days... or it's being used alot(wink). I have a pool table and set up the light box on there so the Pool Lights hanging down, shown right into it, so the lamp doesn't weight on the side of the cardboard. You can also do this on a breakfast bar or kitchen counter that has hanging lighting fixtures.

  • BluegrassSass

    BluegrassSass said 9 years ago

    I am so gonna give this a try, thanks!

  • BluegrassSass

    BluegrassSass said 9 years ago

    I am so going to give this a try, thanks!

  • mazuli83

    mazuli83 said 9 years ago

    Thanks for the tip!

  • LisaLouRedoVintage2

    LisaLouRedoVintage2 said 9 years ago

    Great information! Even the comments have given me a world of information. Our pictures are the most important asset, so many thanks to all!!! Lisa

  • thebrontelife

    thebrontelife said 8 years ago

    I need this.

  • TheNightjar

    TheNightjar said 8 years ago

    thanks a bunch

  • MoonlightAndFire

    MoonlightAndFire said 8 years ago

    I have done something similar using a wooden chair with low arms and some white damask table cloths. It sits in front of my large windows and gathers the natural light. It definitely has a "Bates Motel" look but it is effective. My standing full spectrum lamp can be easily shone onto the object. It works well for my photos. Joanne

  • SweetiePieCaketopper

    SweetiePieCaketopper said 8 years ago

    Super helpful

  • josoriginals

    josoriginals said 8 years ago

    I've been working on a light box without much success. Thanks for the tips- I'll try again!!

  • taintbosh

    taintbosh said 8 years ago

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • bluetaildesigns

    bluetaildesigns said 8 years ago

    I have started using a light box of sorts that I made and it definitely makes a difference. I plan to retake pictures of items that need it.

  • MothersMiniTreasures

    MothersMiniTreasures said 8 years ago

    I bought an inexpensive light box at a hardware store! A very good investment. Also, they are easy to find on the internet at reasonable prices.

  • PappyBoutique

    PappyBoutique said 8 years ago

    the link is not working for me...

  • 2Tui

    2Tui said 8 years ago

    Thanks for sharing! Great info. Going to build my box!

  • EllenBallStudios

    EllenBallStudios said 8 years ago

    This is great! There are other cheap alternatives too. Consider using a large paper lampshade from the thrift store (off white, no pleats, no patterns) and cut out the cross wires in its top. I use this over an old slate roofing tile as my background, side light it with clamp lights from the hardware store (adjustable desk lamps work well too) and shoot straight down using a tripod. The distance between the lights and shade as well as bulb wattage can be tweaked to get the right amount of light. Now that my work is taking on dimension, I need to shoot horizontally so I bought a large semi-transparent storage bin for $6. It will be laid on its side, covered with a thin white sheet and side lit. The background will be sloped fine art paper, fabric, etc. Small holes will be drilled on each side so that monofilament line can be strung across (ends taped on the outside) to suspend earrings. Test photos commence next week, and I'll let everyone know how it goes!


    MAGNUSandJANE said 8 years ago

    Thanks to everyone for the helpful information! I have been procrastinating adding some new listing because I can't seem to get very good pictures. Now I have a project for the weekend.

  • artfulfancies

    artfulfancies said 8 years ago

    Wow... lots of good info here. I've been freaking because even w/natural light my pics come out blue or pinkish & I'm spending untold hours re-shooting and/or trying to 'fix' the color and brightness on each pic & not really succeeding. I'm off to find a good sized box & daylight bulbs.

  • Dunthor

    Dunthor said 8 years ago

    I found a light-tent on amazon for 24 bucks that I like because it folds flat. I am still working on lights though. How do I combat the blue?

  • indianmoonsoap

    indianmoonsoap said 8 years ago

    I shoot some things outdoors when possible, but that's an awesome and easy way to get some shadow free items inside! thanks much

  • indianmoonsoap

    indianmoonsoap said 8 years ago

    thanks so much for the great tip! I usually shoot everything outdoors, but that's not always possible, so thank you very much!

  • msalls1

    msalls1 said 8 years ago

    Going to give it a try.

  • AlikiBags

    AlikiBags said 8 years ago

    Like warmandfuzzybaby I do so struggle with the photographs of my bags. I have even at times sold a bag without taking a picture for the record. Thanks for reminding me and inspiring me to work on this aspect of our work as "cyber sellers"!!! x

  • KooKooCraft

    KooKooCraft said 8 years ago

    this is a really useful tip, I will try to do my box in the following days. thanks! :)

  • Lollyflower

    Lollyflower said 8 years ago

    Wow, great. My hubby is a Photographer, oh why did i not think of this before!

  • Eloras

    Eloras said 8 years ago

    I tried the white box for my photo box without cutting out the sides and used two lamps facing into the box, but am still not getting enough light and am getting shadows on my pieces. I'll try directing the lights at the top of the box, but does anyone have any other advice?

  • noahbear1

    noahbear1 said 8 years ago

    I got a little light box from Ebay and I'm not having success with it. It's very odd because the bottom is not smooth and they put Velcro tabs in it. I guess I'll give a homemade one a try instead!

  • Lensman

    Lensman said 8 years ago

    Full spectrum lights can be expensive. An alternative is to use whatever lights you have (preferably all the same, but not mandatory) and then use your camera's WHITE BALANCE option to adjust for the light's colour spectrum - Essentially this means putting a piece of paper that represents the "white" you want and then calibrating the camera to read it as white. Check your camera's manual.... you still have your manual, right? :) Glenn 3D Printed Jewellery

  • PearlsDesigns

    PearlsDesigns said 8 years ago

    Thank you for this! I am a new seller and I have been trouble with capturing good photos. Funny how I never thought I would have to figure out the photography part of making jewelry. I will definitely be trying a light box for my next pix!

  • WootsieTootsie

    WootsieTootsie said 8 years ago

    Perfect! Thanks for posting this.

  • QueenKhalilah

    QueenKhalilah said 8 years ago


  • StarfishAndTheSea

    StarfishAndTheSea said 8 years ago

    This has been sooo helpful! Although I've been fortunate with natural lighting for some of my pieces, pictures of other pieces just don't do them justice!!! I've experienced this especially with lighter colored gems looking washed out. I'm definitely looking forward to creating my own light box so I can start my next shop makeover :)

  • TiaDropDesigns

    TiaDropDesigns said 8 years ago

    Thankyou so much, this has been really helpful. I will get straight to work on my light box. Can't wait to see the difference :-)

  • SweetlyScrappedArt

    SweetlyScrappedArt said 8 years ago

    I've never seen this design before. I like it :)

  • ScrapHappieAZ

    ScrapHappieAZ said 8 years ago

    I got a light box for Christmas but my photos are still yellowish. Any suggestions?

  • creativestone123

    creativestone123 said 8 years ago

    Thanks so much! Pictures make all the difference. I'm going to give this a try!!!!

  • littleTstudio

    littleTstudio said 8 years ago

    Thank you so much for this information! =0) ~T

  • CanyonEmbroidery

    CanyonEmbroidery said 8 years ago

    Yes! Thank you bunches! Great info :))

  • beadhappy8

    beadhappy8 said 8 years ago

    amazing idea! i don't have to wait 'til morning just to have my best shot....can still work in the evening :)

  • jewelsbyDawn

    jewelsbyDawn said 8 years ago

    I will definitely be trying this! Thank-you

  • sealily1

    sealily1 said 7 years ago

    I made a light box, painted the interior white, cut out the sides and top, used a white almost sheer fabric over cutouts. I've tried lighting (with 75watt "reveal" bulbs) on the sides & top but Im getting either pink or blue backgrounds. The last shot was done using my white balance setting. What am I doing wrong?

  • NannyMadeandfound

    NannyMadeandfound said 7 years ago

    I have been looking for a simple solution to lighting problems...not always able to be outside, or what am I going to do during those dark winter days. I came up with a similar idea yesterday, but it has some flaws. This will be much more effective. I figured a "natural daylight" type light bulb would be best, so will be going shopping and get my very capable husband working on making me a box. I am so thankful that the Etsy community works together like this to help us all be successful

  • emeraldbluerose

    emeraldbluerose said 7 years ago

    Ah poo... the Instructable post has been deleted. :( I wanted to make one...

  • GencysExit

    GencysExit said 7 years ago

    The instructable post linked above has been deleted, but Digital Photography school has a similar tutorial for those who still want to make it:

  • LoveSalinaMarie

    LoveSalinaMarie said 7 years ago

    yay! this sounds like a fun project! :)

  • HandstampedOriginals

    Melissa McAllister from HandstampedOriginals said 7 years ago

    Going to try this today--thanks!

  • ArtbyRiley

    Riley and Sydney from IvoryRoadVintage said 7 years ago

    I'm always looking for ways to improve the photography in my shop, great advice!(:

  • WildBeautyDesign

    Bill Wild from WildBeautyDesign said 6 years ago

    The Instructable light box article has been removed from the link you posted.

  • MiiniMoh

    Melody from MiiniMoh said 6 years ago

    Boo, the instructable has been removed....:(

  • MiiniMoh

    Melody from MiiniMoh said 6 years ago

  • sandrassatchels

    sandrassatchels from sandrassatchels said 5 years ago

    That's fine for small items that fit into a light box, but what about larger items like handbags for instance.

  • RazBarryDesigns

    Roberta Barry from RazBarryDesigns said 5 years ago

    Love this idea....I live outside of Pittsburgh and in the winter, we rarely get any sun so I'm forced to rely on those rare days the sun comes out. Often I'm not at home. Sixty Beans mentioned using a "natural daylight" type light bulb. Do these exist and where might I find one? Thanks

  • silentmagpie

    Terri Watts from SilentMagpie said 5 years ago

    Few pictures are small items but have big items because not able to create big box come with white sheet. Any suggestion for big items where can take picture best spot? My home is small spaces and have two windows.. So Can you give me tip ideas? Let me know Thanks.

  • 3 Consejos fotográficos muy básicos | Etsy habla Español said 4 years ago

    […] y adaptación de los artículos Forty’s Foto Tips, #1: Show off your work in progress!, Forty’s Foto Tips, #2: Make a light box! y Forty’s Foto Tips, #3: Fabric is a perfect backdrop for earrings! de Chillionaire, por Paula […]

  • LavMoonbeamJewels

    Beth from LavenderMoonJewels said 4 years ago

    Thank you for the tips/pictures. Photographing my work is my Achilles heel. I'm going to build this box this week!

  • Google said 2 years ago

    Google Always a large fan of linking to bloggers that I love but do not get lots of link enjoy from.

  • Google said 2 years ago

    Google The information and facts mentioned inside the article are a number of the most effective readily available.

Sign in to add your own