DIY Photo Light Box for photographing cards, projects and small items

When I decided I wanted to start a BLOG about stamping and card making, I realized that I would need to have good pictures to put on my Blog.  Checking out the internet for Light Boxes I soon found out that they can be rather expensive.  I did an internet search for DIY photo boxes and discovered there are as many ways to make one almost as there are cards to make!  There was a cardboard contraption, easy to make with a cardboard box, duct tape and tissue paper.  That just seemed too flimsy for my.  I came across one that was made out of PVC pipe.  So I went to Home Depot and Lowes and shopped for PVC.

I live in the North Georgia Mountains, we do have both stores nearby (as well as Wally World).  Home Depot and Lowes had straight PVC tubing but no elbows.  And I needed a three way elbow.  So I looked on Amazon, sure enough! (a southern expression) there they were and they were relatively inexpensive.  Who needs a mall what you have Amazon?

When the elbows came I put all the pieces together.  It takes four elbows and eight pieces of PVC.  The PVC  came in 2 foot lengths and it is 1/2″.  After I put it together it was way too big, so I cut each PVC pipe down to 20″ using a Dremel Saw.  Quick work but there was plastic dust everywhere!  A simple hand saw or hack saw would have made quick work of it as well.

I set the Light Box frame up on a work table in my old studio (now a storage area), but  it was too low.  Casting about for a solution I found my old ironing board that is a professional size and larger than the ordinary household one.  I took a 24″ ceiling tile and laid on it.  Then placed the Light Box frame on top of it.

Here is how it looks from the front finished and working.  Actually this drop light needs to be down about 8 more inches or so.


I first tried tissue paper but it is not wide enough and certainly not sturdy enough to  last very long.  I went to Wally World and found 60″ white muslin.  Then the next step was to fasten it to the PVC.  How to do that?  I immediately thought of my handy glue gun.  Playing with the muslin I first laid it in one piece, salvage edge across the front draping it to fit on all three sides.  I centered it, glued the top piece first then each side in turn and cut off the little extra on the sides.  I then pulled it taut and glued the top back.

Next came the tricky part.  I then glued the sides pulling it taut on each side.  Carefully slitting the fabric and pulling it straight I cut off the excess (kind of like a gusset I guess) and glued the back to the back side.  So at the back the fabric is glued to the side back and the back back.  Make sense?  Then trimmed the excess off the bottom.


This is a close up of the front, see the salvage edge hanging over?

Next I added lighting.  Two fold up OTT Lamps, one on each side and a drop light handing from the ceiling tile junction by a hanger.


Side view.  I put a piece of white poster board inside and it fits perfectly.  The little jar I use to prop my cards for photographing.


This is a view of the inside back corner.


And this is the other side view.  I move the lights as I need to get rid of shadows.  I am still working on getting my pictures better.  As they say, it’s a work in progress.

Here are the supplies I used in making it.

1/2″ PVC 24″ pipe from Home Depot (only available at the store) about $1.30 apiece  you will need 8

1/2″ PVC three way elbow  from Amazon (your local Home Depot may carry them) pkg. of 10  $11.50

60″ Wide white muslin 1 yard  (not too thick-make sure you can kind of see your hand through it)

Glue Gun, White poster board

I would be happy to answer any questions.  It was fun to make it myself and very cost effective if you price professional photo boxes.  It is very light weight and portable.  It is surprisingly sturdy on it’s four 1/2 legs.


5 thoughts on “DIY Photo Light Box for photographing cards, projects and small items

  1. Thank you for your positive comments. I moved the lights a lite today and it surely helped the shadows.


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