The best way to take great photos of small to medium-sized objects and products is using a photography light box or tent. If you have a lousy photo, you’re selling yourself and your potential customers short.
Whether you’re a food blogger, Etsy/Ebay 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, the questions is, should you buy a photo box or should you try and build your own?
Some people believe the best option is to make your own, but speaking from experience I found that it was not only time-consuming but also not super effective. Here is a simple pro-con list to help you make your decision.
1. 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 will cost anywhere between $100-$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.
2. 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, or get in your car and drive to the store. 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.
1. 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, or quickly run to pictureline or your local camera shop and pick one up. Time spent includes actually 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. Either way, it’s quite a time-consuming task, and more so if you’re building a wood light box and don’t have power tools because now you’ll have to go over and borrow them from your dad, and then you’ll have to go back and return the tools you borrowed.
2. Hard to store.
Whatever material you use and 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 made to collapse, and light boxes that can collapse are more easily stored. 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?
3. 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, as most professional lighting is not cheap.
4. 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, if you decide you want a fabric light box, you can’t take top-down shots.
5. 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. In our opinion, building one can be a great short term solution, but if you're trying to make a business off selling products or will need to be taking several shots, buying one is well worth your money.
If you’ve decided buying one is the better route, check out this dependable, portable and collapsible SHOTBOX.