The Pros & Cons of Building Your Own Photography Light Box

The best way to take great photos of small to medium-sized objects is using a  photography light box or tent. Using a lousy photo is selling yourself short.

Whether you’re a  food bloggerEtsy shop owner or are wanting to digitize important family documents, you need a photography light box. This simple system, also called a light tent, can be made out of fabric, cardboard or wood and will become your best friend in no time as its consistent and effective lighting allows you to take professional-looking photos from right inside your home.

But, should you buy a photo box or should you go all Brit + Co and build your own?

Some people believe the best option is to make your own. I’ve found that a simple pro-con list helps me make better decisions so let’s look at all the pros and cons of a homemade photography light box and then you can make the right decision for yourself (and see if these DIYers are right).


Less expensive. 

Like how it’s cheaper to cook dinner at home instead of going out, it’s cheaper to build your own light box. Buying one could cost you $50 or even upwards of $200. You can save yourself some money by creating your own for less than $20. Or, it could even cost you next to nothing if you already have the supplies to make one lying around your house, which I’m sure most of you have duct tape, tissue paper, white fabric and/or a cardboard box.

Use it today. 

When you have to order a photo box, you have to wait several days or even a week until you can use it. Making your own on the other hand means you don’t have to wait for a company to process your order and ship the photo box to you. You can gather the needed supplies and make one at your kitchen table, and it’s ready to use the same day you decided you needed one.


Time invested. 

While making your own means you can use it sooner than ordering one, the time you have to personally invest is more than the few minutes it takes you to make a few mouse clicks and order one online. Time spent includes making the light box as well as going out gathering all the needed parts and tools to make one, whether that means buying or borrowing. Building a wood light box is especially time consuming and requires power tools which you may or may not have to get from dad, swearing that this time won't end up with nails through the wall.

Hard to store. 

Whatever material you use and the size you decide to make, more often than not your homemade photo box is going to be bulky, and if made from wood it’s going to be heavy. Another downside is that yours may not be collapsible, which would be easier to store. Would you rather try to find a place big enough to safely store a large cardboard box or just be able to slide a collapsed one onto a shelf or inside a desk drawer?

Source your own lighting. 

When you build your own light tent, you will also need to buy your own light sources, and it may take some trial and error until you find the right sources and types of bulbs for your type of photo shoots. Again, this is more time you have to invest and possibly more money.

No top-down shots. 

Many bloggers and online shop owners need to take top-down photos of their food dishes and jewelry, but even those of you who aren’t one of those, you may need to capture photos from this angle of family history documents or of your most recent craft. Unfortunately, fabric light boxes can’t do top-down shots.

Not very durable. 

Durability is key, especially if you want a photo box that’s long-lasting. A cardboard box that uses white tissue paper and duct tape isn’t very durable. It can easily be damaged during use or while it’s being stored. And a fabric one can be easily ripped or torn.


So there you have it. The pros and cons of building your own photography light box that’s hopefully been helpful for you to make your decision.

  • If you’ve decided buying one is the better route,  check out our dependable, portable and collapsible SHOTBOX.
  • If you’ve decided to build one yourself, the following are some helpful resources telling you what supplies you need and showing you how to make your own photography light box:

Build A Light Box On The Cheap (video) 

How To Build A Photo Light Box For Less Than $10 (video) 

How to Make a Cheap Photo Light Box for Photography (video) 

How to Create an Inexpensive Photography Lightbox (blog post)

How to Make an Inexpensive Light Tent—DIY (tutorial) 

How To Build A PVC DIY Photo Light Box (blog post and video) 

DIY Photo Light Box (tutorial) DIY Light Tent (blog post) 

DIY Photo Light Box—Take Better Photos! (blog post) 

Do It Yourself Photography Light Box for Under $40 (tutorial)