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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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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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  • Michele Pryse

    Thank you for the idea! It really makes sense. I have a basic camera that will take decent photos during the summer when natural sunlight is at its optimum, and have been wondering if I needed to invest in a more expensive camera to continue taking photos for my blog throughout autumn and winter. I really appreciate this post.

    • http://www.kiddiefoodies.com/ Kiddie Foodies

      Give it a try, it is so easy to make, you will see some great results!

  • DearCreatives

    pinned & tweeted. thanks for the tutorial Theresa @dearcreatives:disqus

  • Shauna Smart

    Thanks for the shout out! LOVE your lightbox and how it's foldable :) Great post!

    Shauna @ The Best Blog Recipes

    • http://www.kiddiefoodies.com/ Kiddie Foodies

      Thanks Shauna - it is all thanks to you:)

  • Joan – My Cookie Clinic

    Space is a concern for me also. Thanks for your tutorial on this folding lightbox. I appreciate your comment on my recent post at Best Blog Recipes. Have a nice day!

    • http://www.kiddiefoodies.com/ Kiddie Foodies

      Thank you!

  • Nicole Burkholder

    I love the idea of having a folding box! Mine is taking up a huge corner of my husband's workbench in the garage :) It's a little more work than a cardboard box, but worth it!

    • http://www.kiddiefoodies.com/ Kiddie Foodies

      Yes, that is why I have came up with the idea to make it foldable:)

  • Cindy Eikenberg

    Hi Gosia! What a great tutorial and I love that it folds. The photo of the apple looks great! Thank you so much for sharing and pinning! Have a great evening!

    • http://www.kiddiefoodies.com/ Kiddie Foodies

      Yes, I love that - so easy to store it!

  • Kathleen

    Great idea! I think I will make one of these. Thanks for the tutorial.

  • Craft Dictator

    This is a great tutorial! Thanks for sharing this! I pinned it :)

    • http://www.kiddiefoodies.com/ Kiddie Foodies

      Cool:) Thanks!

  • Andrea Millard

    What a great post! Thanks for all the tutorial pics... I have just about everything but the spotlights, so I hope to be able to give this a try soon!

    • http://www.kiddiefoodies.com/ Kiddie Foodies

      Thanks Andrea!

  • http://probablycrafting.blogspot.com/ Momma Mellon

    I so need to do this. :) Thank you for sharing. I need to find some spotlights!!

    • http://www.kiddiefoodies.com/ Kiddie Foodies

      Yes, give it a try !

  • Jess

    I've been thinking about getting a lightbox - I had no idea they were so easy to make!

  • http://NewMamaDiaries.com/ Tenns Reid

    Awesome...and very thorough tutorial! Thanks for sharing!

    • http://www.kiddiefoodies.com/ Kiddie Foodies

      Thanks, glad you found it useful, I love it now!

  • Chelsey

    This looks so easy! I've been looking something relatively cheap and easy to make, so I'll definitely try this. Thank you! :D

    • http://www.kiddiefoodies.com/ Kiddie Foodies

      It is very easy and you don't need a lot to make it!

  • Kelli H

    Thank you so much! This is super-helpful and easy-to-follow instructions!

  • GreenX

    Thanks for a straight forward write up. I had all the materials and got this done in less than 30 minutes total to use on my blog

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