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Jessica Joy

Knitwear designer, teacher and author

I don’t know about you, but I find it difficult to shoot nice bright product photos in my little city flat. It’s especially hard in the winter when the sun just isn’t around at a convenient time. Imagine if you could create your own little photography studio in a box and never have to worry about the time of day, or what the weather’s up to. Well, I had a go at doing just that. This photo is the not so attractive result; please excuse the kitchen paraphernalia.

It was surprisingly quick to make and works by diffusing artificial light around your items to avoid those harsh shadows.


  • Cardboard box
  • Tracing paper or thin cotton material
  • Tape
  • Sheet of white paper or card
  • Scissors/scalpel
  • 2 x Lamps with daylight bulbs
  • Props (optional)
  • Reflective material (optional)


  1. Cut a 2″ border around the top and two sides of the box.
  2. Tape tracing paper over the holes. You could also use a thin cotton or muslin fabric and it’ll have the same effect.
  3. Line the box with a plain paper backdrop. Aim for a larger size of paper so that you can curve it along the floor of the box and up the back. This will avoid any noticeable horizon in the backdrop. You could also hang a pretty fabric or decorate the inside of your box with bunting and props.
  4. Position the lamps at either side, or from the top of the box if you only have one.

You may need to line the box with white paper first anyway to cut down on the orange-y box glow. You can use a reflective material such as tinfoil, or mirrors to work the light into awkward corners around your item.

The essential part to this set-up is daylight bulbs. Normal bulbs will result in an orangey glow in the final picture. You can counteract this a little by setting the white balance on your camera to tungsten (artificial lightbulb), but it won’t look as good as daylight bulbs.

Have a play with props, styling and backdrops to really bring out the character in your products. I hope this is useful and let me know if you have any top tips yourself – what do you use to photograph your own items?

  1. Rachael 1 November 2013, 4:25 pm

    Thank you so much for this – it’s lovely when people share quality information like this. It’s very much appreciated. I will also be sharing :-)

  2. Bruninho 20 April 2014, 5:01 pm

    Man, that looks like a job! I sure wouldn’t want to do that sevarel times a day Love your new site by the way, and it’s great to be able to leave a comment.

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