DIY Lightbox for TPT Products

I'm just going to start this post off by saying - 'I am not a photographer; I'm not even good at photography.' Just so y'all know that the lightbox we made is some SERIOUS cracker jack box style!

After reading the Teachers Pay Teachers Forum, I came across a post about taking better photos of products. After lots of research, I discovered that product 'action' photos are better to pin to Pinterest and put on your blog than just using the product cover. I really didn't want to spend over $100 on a lightbox, so I turned to my husband who is the King of 'Southern Engineering.' Here are the directions for the one that we made, which cost us less than $40 (the lights were the most expensive items):


1/2 inch PVC pipe (we used two 8-foot sections)
Two 45 degree elbow connectors
Ten 90 degree elbow connectors
Eight T-connectors
Three clamp lights
Light bulbs for each of the lights (we used 75 watts- but there are others I think you could use)
One roll of 1-mil plastic drop cloth (like what painters use)
White masking tape (not sure if blue would work or not)

 Here's an example of what the connectors look like!

Here's a close-up of the lights and plastic drop cloth!


Top Piece:

The first step is to construct the top of the lightbox, which is shown below. My husband just eyed and measured everything. The final dimensions of the top base are 32" x 20".  But, you can make the lightbox as big or as small as you want.

Bottom Piece:

Once the top is finished, then you can start working on the bottom. Below shows 2 separate angles of the bottom piece. The measurements for the bottom part are 30" x 22" x 15".

The above photos show two separate angles of what the finished bottom piece looks like. *NOTE*: instead of the 90 degree elbow connectors, we used T-connectors with a small piece of PVC pipe sticking out from each side. I was super confused at first as to why my husband did that... WELL- it is so the top piece can slide forward more. The tiny pieces of PVC pipe sticking out actually give me more wiggle room to position the top light.

Assembled- almost finished:

This is what it looks like with the top and bottom set on top of one another. These should be kept in two parts for convenience (I'll get to that in a minute).  The next step is to attach the plastic drop cloth.

Cutting and Securing the Plastic Drop Cloth:

This next step is probably the most difficult part. First, unroll the plastic drop cloth (we only used a single layer for the top piece). When you're cutting the drop cloth to fit, MAKE SURE you leave a lip so you'll have something to attach the tape to when you secure the drop cloth to the PVC pipe- as shown in this photo below.
(Now- this is where you'll see some 'Southern Engineering' at its finest)!! Use masking tape to attach the drop cloth to the PVC pipe. There is no rhyme or reason to how or where we put the tape- just secure it so there aren't any gaps. In the bottom picture above, you'll see the finished top part! Now to the bottom piece! I have included lots of photos for this step because it was probably the most difficult.
For this step, we laid out the drop cloth in one long piece and doubled it. There was no particular reason we did that. So, that is totally optional. We fit the drop cloth to the frame, cut it, and taped it on each side, repeating those steps for all 3 sides of the bottom frame. 
Then, we rolled the frame along the length of drop cloth, trimmed the edges, and taped as we went.
Here is the finished bottom piece. The plastic drop cloth wraps around the outside of the bottom frame. Now, to join the top and the bottom. We kept the two pieces separate so that it would be easy to add backgrounds as well as the ease of moving it!
This is the ENTIRE lightbox sitting on our floor! The cord of the top light is wrapped around the top PVC pipe.  We bought two larger clamp lights and one small one. AGAIN... no rhyme or reason- We were flying by the seat of our pants! The disadvantage of using a small 'clamp' light is that there is NO clamp. Good thing my husband uses zip ties like teachers use Flair pens! HA HA - He just zip tied that sucker to the top of the PVC pipe. LOOK AT THE FINISHED PRODUCT!
I am still experimenting with the best background color and material. You're probably thinking- Yea, that's great and all, but DOES IT WORK? Yes, it does! Check out the before and after photos below:
The 'Before' photos are the reason I wanted a lightbox! Those shadows are HORRIBLE and the photos are too dark. The 'After' photos are by no means 'professional' and look much better in a larger format! But, you can see a huge difference in the photos before the lightbox and after. I can also take product 'action' photos any time of day, and I didn't spend over $100! I can tell you that the lightbox my husband and I made is VERY amateur-ish, but it works for me at this point in my TPT journey! For all of the photos, I used my iPhone 6 Plus. AND... before I go, I'd like to show you my husband's 'shop chair' (AKA- the chair he uses in the garage)! I just want you to know how much of a 'Southern Engineer' he is. I will warn you- it is the UGLIEST chair you have ever seen, I'm sure!  But, I still LOVE him!!
If you have any questions, feel free to email me or leave me a comment! 


  1. LOVE this post! My daughter and I made our own light box and it's no where near as good as yours! You go girl! And kudos to your handy hubby! :)

    1. That's awesome that you and your daughter made a lightbox. Thanks for the kind words, but I'm thinking the pictures make it look better!


  2. Wow....I am impressed. I am at the point where I need to do something about my pictures! Thanks for the great post about this...very helpful and eye opening.

    1. Paula- I promise a lightbox will change your pictures completely! It's so easy to work with, and I can use it any time of day- which is a huge plus! Thanks so much for your kind words!


  3. This was such a great blog post! I bought a light box from Zulily awhile back and I was kind of disappointed. After watching your light box setup I tried fixing mine more like yours and boom, much better! Thank you so much! Lol about the office chair- I think our husbands are separated at birth!

    1. Thank you, Amy!!! I'm glad my post was able to help you! Taking great photographs is super important, but I swear that's my drawback!

  4. LOVE this!!! THanks so much for sharing! I can't wait to try this!