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How to build a foldable lightbox

For a while now, I have been thinking about building my own lightbox, but I never took the time to do so. Moreover, I prefer to use the natural light as much as possible and I had no problems with that during summer time. I even took some pictures outside whenever I could.

But now, the gorgeous summer light is over, autumn is here and winter is approaching. So, my natural window light will become more and more difficult to catch. Recently, I read this article How To Build a Beginners Small Lightbox for Food Photography by Shauna from The Best Blog Recipes and it really inspired me to finally build my own lightbox. Thank you Shauna! :)

However, I don't have enough space to store the lightbox as she did it, so I decided to make my own foldable lightbox. Moreover, I didn't want to bother and paint a cardboard box, so I have decided to use a white foam board instead. I already had it at home, so that was an easy choice.

Improve food photography - how to build a foldable lightbox

What you need

  • 1 white foam board for the lightbox
  • 1 white foam board for the reflector/upper closing
  • white piece of paper
  • white fabric (muslin) or tracing paper
  • 3 clothing clips
  • 2 bright spotlights
  • tape
  • cutter, scissors
  • silver car sun shield (optional)

 

Supplies I used

 

How to make it

Step1

You need to measure the foam board and decide how big your lightbox is going to be. I wanted to make it big enough to be able to use colored cardboards that you can purchase at Dollarama. Therefore I have measured a rectangle of 78x60cm/31x24inches.

Food photography -how to build a foldable lightbox step1Step2

Once you have your foam board rectangle ready, draw a line with your pencil in the place, where you want the foam board to fold. For me it was 31cm/12inches from one border side. Then, use your cutter to cut this line, but just make a groove, do not cut it entirely. This way, the foam board can be folded easily.

Food photography -how to build a foldable lightbox step2     Food photography -how to build a foldable lightbox step3

Step3

Prepare 2 frames. First, cut stripes from the remaining parts of the foam board. You will need 4 short and 4 long. The dimensions of my short stripes were: 31x4cm/12x1.5inches and for the long ones: 38x4cm/15x1.5inches. Make 2 frames by fixing all the parts together using a transparent tape.

Food photography -how to build a foldable lightbox step4  Food photography -how to bulid a foldable lightbox step5

Step4

Place the frame made in Step3 on the foam board and fix with the transparent tape on the outside. Open it, place a thin stripe of paper, then use a tape to fix it.

Food photography -how to build a foldable lightbox step6   Food photography -how to build a foldable lightbox step7

When both frames are fixed, it should look like this:

Food photography -how to build a foldable lightbox step8

Step5

Use a fabric (the best is muslin) or a tracing paper to cover the frames, the light from your spotlights will shine through them. I used a fabric from an old bed sheet and it was perfect. Make sure you leave enough of it to put it underneath the foam board base, so it holds together. You can fix it using laundry clips.

Food photograpghy -how to build a foldable lightbox step9  Food photography -how to build a foldable lightbox step10

Step6

When the box is ready you can insert a colored cardboard. Use a clip to hold it to the foam board wall and the 2 laundry clips will hold it at the bottom.

Food photography -how to build a foldable lightbox step11 Food photography -how to build a foldable lightbox step12

Step7

Place two lights on each side of your lightbox. They should be bright and give natural light. I used a working lights that we had already at home and they worked pretty well. I left the box opened to be able to make photos from the above. I have used another foam board to be able to close the lighbox if needed. I made it double-sided - I fixed a car sun shield to make a reflector on one side and left it white on the other side. By doing so, I can now play with different settings. You could also add another frame with a fabric or tracing paper to be able to light the objects from the above.

Food photography -how to build a foldable lightbox step14 Food photograpghy -how to build a foldable lightbox step16 Food photograpghy -how to build a foldable lightbox step15

Step8

When the photos are done, the lightbox can be folded flat and stored without taking too much space.

Food photograpghy -how to build a foldable lightbox step13

My first test done with this lightbox - a simple photo of an apple. So, what do you think, was it worth the effort? :)

Food photography -how to build a foldable lightbox apple

How to build a foldable lightbox to improve your food photography

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