My Studio : DIY LIGHTBOX for Food Photography

In this part of the world I get to enjoy four distinct season and I love that. But as we move towards the end of the year, the days get shorter and it gets dark by 5.00 pm.  So why am I bothered about it ? My life doesn’t stop. Does it? No. But it affects my Food Photography. I lose the natural light that is quintessential for food photography. Some of you know that I spend my daytime @ work so I  usually cook  late in the evening. Even in Summer, I don’t get to finish my cooking until 8 or so. So what I want to say is I don’t have “The Natural Light” even in summer to Click-Click :-(

The Husband doesn’t like me sulking. So he decided to help me set up a Studio for my food photography. Yeah I hear you,  he is so sweet. But Vasanth offered this because I helped him to setup his Music Studio in our basement. 😉 Oh boy, we spent more than 1 week to set his studio. It was lots and lots of work. But take it from me, My light box isn’t tough to build. :) You don’t even need expensive stuffs or any expertise for that. All I would say, Do it Yourself. This light box works like a charm for me and these are some of the food pictures I clicked in my lightbox.

After Lighbox:

1. Tandoori Chicken

2. Rose Water Lemonade

To understand the difference see the pictures below I clicked before I made this LIGHT BOX. Aren’t they dull?

Before Light Box:

1. Asparagus Usili

2. Moong dhal Halwa

But still I have a soft corner for these pictures I took in “Day Light”. Aren’t they beautiful?

1. Coconut Brigadeiros with a hint of Mango

2. Spring Onion Egg Stir Fry

What you will need to build your own LIGHTBOX?

  1. Huge Carton [24 x 24 x 24 inch] ( Thank god TH bought a Roland Amplifier. It is huge enough to fit 2 toddlers. Yeah Kids treat it as a play thing and crawl into my Lightbox :-( )
  2. Pairing knife or anything that is sharp enough to cut and easy to handle
  3. Scissors
  4. White Cotton fabric or Muslin cloth (I used my brand new white twin sheet/bedspread) – This should cost than less than $6 even if you buy 3 yards from Joann. The cloth that you purchase will decide how the light is going to diffuse through it and create dramatic pictures.
  5. Measuring Scale or a piece of wood (to draw lines)
  6. 3 work lamp ( We bought this from Ikea) – $8.99 each . I will definitely recommend this because it is easy to move around and you can change the angles for effective lighting.
  7. Pen or Pencil
  8. Cello(phane) tape
  9. 2 Ikea Lack Side Table (Optional)  – $7.99 each or any table in your home where you can fit this lamps and box.
  10. Daylight bulbs (This is must) – 3  (It will be printed as Daylight on the wrapper, ensure that you buy the right one). We bought ROHS 75 Watt Daylight bulbs which uses only  18 Watt (Update: ROHS 18 Watt bulbs that yields the output of 75 Watt)
  11. Clips to hold the backdrop

Our Expense: $16 + $27 = $43

You can always shop for cheaper lamps. TH was happy with these lamps so we bought a little expensive one. Depending on the items you already have the cost will vary and of course it depends where you shop. I personally prefer Ikea for those lamps and table because they are super cheap and reliable. You wouldn’t believe I bought a huge wooden chopping board for $10, but that is a different story :)

How we Vasanth made it?

DIY Lightbox

  • Take a huge carton. Draw a square using the measuring scale or the wooden plank leaving atleast 2-3 inch on each side.

DIY LIGHTBOX

  • Using a pairing knife, cut the window ensure that you don’t bend the box.

DIY LIGHTBOX

  • Repeat the above steps for other sides.

How to make Lightbox How to make LIGHTBOX

How to make Lightbox

  • So now you will have 3 windows, apart from the opening and it will look like this

How to make DIYLIGHTBOX

  • Ok, now you might think how to hang the backdrops. We have a solution here :) Do you see a pen in the first pic below (on the left hand side), that is where we will create a small slit (on top) to hang the backdrops. Using a wooden plank or a measuring scale, carefully make a slit using your pairing knife or a bread knife.

Light Box

  • Wrap the box with a piece of cloth. We did not cut it for each window rather we wrapped it like how we wrap a gift to cover 3 windows. Use cello tape stick the fabric to the box.  (Glue/stapler didn’t work).

  • In my case I had to attach the lamps to the table.  So place your lamps. Turn on lights, adjust the angles and start clicking pictures.

LIGHT BOX

LIGHTBOX

And here is the slit where you can insert your favorite backdrop, use clips to hold them in place.

DIY LIGHTSTUDIO

DIY Lightbox

Behind the Scene:

Vasanth fixing the lights

My cute and sexy Ikea Lack table (Here you can see that these lamps are attached to the table and it can be moved to change the angle of light) . This is set up in a corner of our living room such a way that it doesn’t affect our everyday living space.

LIGHTBOX

More pics from my LightBox

Pestle n Mortar in DIY LIGHTBOX

Chinaware in LIGHTBOX

LIGHTBOX

LIGHTBOX

Spices in DIY LIGBOXT

DIY LIGHTBOX

Some of you would have guessed that my posts on photography is not gonna end any sooner. Yes, come back and see how you can improvise this light box and take much better pictures. Also we will go through the basics of photography together and make the entire learning experience fun and interesting.  Remember If I can do it you can do it too :)

Please let me know if you have any questions on this light box or the pictures posted in this blog, Vasanth and I will be happy to answer them.

You are awesome!!! Thanks a bunch for leaving your valuable comment. It certainly makes me happy and helps me to learn and improve.

98 comments

  1. Tanvi says:

    OMG Radhika…thank you soooo much.I had a fairly good idea of the light box but what was spinning my head was the kind of bulbs to use..very sweet of you to even tell the brand..same here..most of the cooking is done in the evenings..will try to get the bulbs..will they be available at Lowe’s or home depot?
    Thanks again for sharing these tips dear…really nice of you!

    • RV says:

      Hi Tanvi,
      Thanks :) Hope you had a wonderful weekend. Yes these bulbs are available in Lowe’s and Home depot. I bought mine in home depot.
      -RV

  2. Tahemeem says:

    You are awesome… i try clicking my pic in a white light and it is disaster…. this is beautiful… u are a guru… :) seriously… i will set this up asap…
    Thanks a lot for appreciation on my blog… :)

  3. Sarah says:

    Great post.. I really mean it…
    the light this season is so bad that i have to cook in the morning and take pics before noon :(..
    I am dfntly gonna try making it this weekend…Thanks a lot dear…and the pics are amazing :)

  4. Sonia says:

    Thanks for the great article on how to make a lightbox. Now I’m jealous!! I’ll ask my hubby if he could build me one! Maybe I’d take better pictures with it… Even though almost all my pictures are his doing! lol

  5. Rajani@eatwritethink says:

    hi radhika! this is such a great tutorial – i was looking online on a diy lightbox… though i have a brilliantly lit house – by the time i get around to photographic the light is always on its way out, i am going to make this asap. thanks for generously sharing this bit of info.

  6. Roma says:

    What a wonderful and informative post. I actually have a carton box with the top framed with a butter paper to act as a soft box under a lamp / sun but never tried having light come in from the sides as well. You snaps look really professional and I must try the side lighting as well. Thanks again.

  7. Umm Mymoonah says:

    Wow! This is amazing, you guys are brilliant. I have been struggling with the light source in our new place. This helps me a lot. BTW what is day light bulbs, can we buy that in India?

  8. Mellissa (sevimel on flickr) says:

    Thank you so much for these detailed instructions! I have the same problem with cooking in the evening and poor lighting for my food photos! I find myself taking photos of leftovers (if there are any!) in the morning sometimes which is inconvenient and the food doesn’t look it’s best! I am heading to IKEA soon and will be purchasing the lights and tables to make this! Love your photos and recipes! Marinating your tandoori chicken tonight to serve tomorrow and looking forward to it! Love your blog! Thanks!

  9. Anamika@madcookingfusions says:

    Hi Radhika, I am feeling too lucky to bump into your website and get such informative and wonderful ideas apart from the great recipes. All this is really helpful for a newbie like me into food blogging….thank you so much for sharing such wonderful tutorials like these and helping!! From your site I can actually get a feeling of “cooking is all about inspiring others to cook and learn” … thanks once again!! Do visit my blog and would be grt to get inputs from you on it!

  10. indianrecipe4u says:

    nice description. i prepared my lightbox my self like this by following ur steps.thanks a lot for beautiful photography. i will post my experience after taking few pics with this light box.

  11. Genny says:

    I was looking for tandoori chicken advice and my search took me to your blog. What luck! Not only do you have really interesting recipes, you also have photography tips. Love the DIY lightbox.

  12. beena says:

    this is simply awesome… wonderful idea and equally brilliant piece of work.. ur pics are very neat :) great work… i m new on the blog scene but am enjoying every bit of it…do drop by!

  13. Joe says:

    I keep reading and reading about the Light box but never got around making one.
    Its high time I did as Ranjani said above, I have a brightly lit house, but by the time I am ready to click (after the daily 9 to 5 job) the light is almost out.
    Will let you know when I have made one :-)

  14. Ellen says:

    Thank you so much for this! I just got a camera for Christmas and have been taking photos of food I am making for a cookbook! Only after 100 photos did I get one I liked. This is going to help me so much! And tonight I am going to make your Tandoori Chicken I am so excited! Thank you so very much!! Love your blog!

  15. sathyapriya says:

    Hi radhika ,
    Great to come across your blog .This is a nice DIY , will try to make one in future . Winter is nearing :) ,thats why .I am your facebook fan ,so from now i get the regular updates.

  16. Sailu | Indian Food says:

    I always take images in natural light. Whatever I cook later in the day never makes it to my blog and was looking at taking images in indoor lighting. I was going through a few pages and came across your DIY tutorial which is helpful. Thanks for sharing. :)

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