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Crafts, Arts & More

5 Steps to Build a Photography Light Tent to Take Pictures of Small to Medium Items

Posted by Sheng Ye of Founder of PES. on

Follow these steps to create a photography light tent for taking photos of small to medium items.


  • Large cardboard box (thicker box will hold up to the abuse of cutting and working on it)
  • Several yards of white cloth (I got 3 yards)
  • Wide/Think Double stick tape (I used Shurtape carpet tape)
  • Thin double stick tape.
  • [2] thin poster boards
  • [3] Reflective lights (I got mine for $5 at Job Lot {Local discount store})
  • [3] Light Bulb (I am using standard 100 watt bulbs)


  • Sharp Knife (I used a heavy duty box cutter)
  • Writing implement
  • Straight Edge (I used a large shelf)

Give me your feedback and Please don't be one of those people who says, "there are already Instructables for light tent." I know there are and sadly I did not get inspiration from Instructables. I love whattrebuchet03said,"I personally think it's better to have each variant in separate instructables - -and link between them ;)"

UPDATE: I mentioned before that I was going to make a frame for this.

Step 1. Prepping the Box

  • To allow light to enter all sides you will need to cut open three sides of the box. GO from the sides and leave the top and the bottom the way they are.
  • I used a heavy duty printer box.
  • From all four corners measure in 1.5 inches and make a cross hair.
  • Using a straight edge line up the cross hairs on each corner and draw a line.
  • The completed lines on one side. Continue this on 3 sides. I cut out the sides that had the handles
  • Cut the box on the lines. I used the straight edge to cut. This works well when cutting against the grain of the cardboard. (warning :: as you are cutting the second and third side try not to push to hard. You do not want to crush the box.)

NOTES: After I was almost finished with the light box I decided to cut off three of the box flaps. I only kept the bottom one. So lay the box with the uncut side down and remove the Left, Right and Top flaps.

Step 2. Taping the Sides of the Box for the Cloth

As you can see in the picture, Tape inside the opening. This is where I used the Heavy Duty Carpet tape.

Step 3. Putting In the Cloth

Cut the cloth to the to the size of the inside of the box. I cut it an extra 1 to 2 inches just to be safe.

Remove the cover on the double stick tape. When you put in the cloth pull it as tight as you can. Obviously you don't want it loose or have any wrinkles. I had wrapped some of the covering from the double stick tape and rubbed it over the cloth to ensure the cloth was stuck in place. after I put in each side, I trimmed the excess cloth.

Step 4. Prepping & Inserting the Poster Board

This step is the backdrop for the light tent

  • Measure the inside width of the box and cut the 2 poster boards. Do not worry about the length of the poster board as you want it to over hang outside the box.(I used the straight edge to ensure I get a straight line.)
  • Place the wide double stick tape on the bottom of the box. One in the far back of the box and one at the opening of the box.
  • Place one of the poster boards flush with the back of the box.
  • Place the wide double stick tape on the upper rear edge inside the box.
  • Using the thin double stick tape. Place it approximately 1/4 the way from the back. this measure is up to your interpretation. It should produce a slight slope in the back. You don't want it to come out to far, you don't want to lose to much space.
  • Place the other poster board flush with the top tape and then the bottom.

Step 5. Final Product

Place the three lights about a foot from each side that has cloth. Don't get too close, it should not touch the cloth (FIRE HAZARD YOU KNOW). Place the item in inside and take some pictures. HAVE FUN.

I might be making a frame for the lights. I have some spare PVC pipe laying around and all I will need to get is some connectors.

  • photography
  • photography tent
  • how to build a photo tent
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