Can I just tell you that I have a bone to pick with Mother Nature lately. She seems to sense when I’m just finishing up a DIY project that really needs to be photographed. Case in point, last week I wanted to photograph my “You Rule Valentines“, but we had 4 days of gloomy weather! 1,2,3,4! I shook my fist at the heavens and told that Mother that I wasn’t going to wait any longer. Then I took matters into my own hands…so there!

I built a little table top light studio, and now come rain or sleet or shine, I have control of my photography lighting!

Want to make your own? It’s super easy. Here’s how…


  • 3 – 30″ x 40″ Foam Boards
  • White Poster Board
  • 2 Clothes Pins
  • 2 sheets of Tracing Paper
  • Xacto Knife
  • Metal Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Packing Tape
  • Roll of White Craft Paper
  • 2 Lamps (clamp style or a bare bulb lamp)
  • 1 CFL light bulb
  • 1 Incandescent light bulb


Cut two sheets of foam board in half along the 40″ side.

Cut a window (slightly smaller than the tracing paper) into two boards with the Xacto knife. Tape the tracing paper over each window.

Tape the two window boards onto one board in between the two. (Put your tape on the outside of the light studio so the glare off the shiny tape won’t be visible.) Set the tri-fold boards on top of the uncut 3rd foam board.

Arch the poster board over the top of the light studio and use clothespins to secure the sides. (This will give you more head room to take downward shots of your subject matter.) Leave a gap in the back to feed the roll of paper through. Let the roll hide behind the studio set up. (I like having a big roll of craft paper so I can tear off any that gets marked, creased or dirty.)

Line up the lamps on either side of the tracing paper windows. Keep an inch or so between the paper and the lights.

Here’s a trick I learned in art school. To get more natural color lighting, use one CFL bulb and one Incandescent. The warm and cool will balance each other out. (You may still have to play with your photo color temperature in a photo editing program, but this will get you closer to a good mid-range white.)

Set up your subject and snap away!

For more drama, try turning off one light.

It’s the perfect set up for photographing teeny rings and jewelry.

And when you’re done, simply fold one side forward and one side back.

…and your photo studio can be stored away easily.

Take that Mother Nature!!! Of course, wouldn’t you know that the day after I made my table top light studio, the sun was out and shining in full force. That Mother, she really knows how to annoy a DIY blogger. 😉

What about you? Do you have any photo tricks for dealing with imperfect lighting?

Two other posts to help you improve your photography skills!

Lighting Tips for Indoor Photography

Lighting Tips for Indoor Photography

Take Better Photos with Better Composition and Lighting

Take Better Photos with Better Composition and Lighting


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DIY Photography Light Studio Set Up | Pretty Handy Girl

60 replies
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  1. dp
    dp says:

    What watt of light do you recommend? I need to set up a light room just like this, photographing cups with liquid

  2. Natalie
    Natalie says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I am off tomorrow morning to get the materials as I have been struggling so much to get my photos right! x

  3. Laura
    Laura says:

    I love the light box tutorial and all the tips. I’m confused on the light bulbs. what is the wattage on the bulbs.

    Please advise.

    thank you,

  4. Kim @
    Kim @ says:

    I am fairly new to blogging and my photography is a work in progress. I found your site while searching for photography tips and now I’m hooked! Thanks so much for this. I’m heading to Hobby Lobby today, because my indoor shots need lots of improvement. This just might be the fix I need.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] makeshift tabletop or booth but if you’re limited, Brittany has a tutorial for setting up a mini light studio in a convenient […]

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  3. […] Pretty Handy Girl – DIY Photography Light Studio Set Up […]

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  5. […] DIY Photography Light Studio Setup – A foldable DIY photo studio and great tips on lighting, such as combining a CFL and an incandescent bulb […]

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