Networks like Behance, where people post decent-to-amazing photos of their work, can really make your .jpg and .pdf portfolio look a little old. You’re not alone. I recently decided to step up from my free wix porfolio and move up the ranks. I made the cheapest and less-elaborate DIY lightbox in the universe (I checked). Here’s how you will spend under $5 and 30 minutes max to take better photos of your work:
What you don’t have to buy:
- Cardboard box (recycled from incoming mail)
- Masking tape
- Tissue paper
- A sheet of white/black paper for background
- 2 Heavy-duty paper clips
- X-ACTO Knife or scissors
Stuff you need to have/borrow:
- Tripod (important!)
Unfortunately, there’s no getting out of this one. Unless you want to use something else to prop up your camera (you don’t have to share with the class).
The point is to make a device that does two brilliant things at once: creates a lovely background for your images and diffuses light so your work doesn’t look like the forehead of a 15 year old.
STEP ONE: Disfigure your cardboard box so that it has openings on either side and optionally the top (depending on what angle you want to photograph from).
STEP TWO: Measure your tissue paper and cut out matching pieces that would go over your cut-out sides (they should be a little bigger to leave room for tape).
STEP THREE: Tape the tissue paper to the sides like below. Shine a light through it. If the light is too harsh, use another layer.
STEP FOUR: Cut a large piece of heavy paper (white/black) to fit the box. Make sure you use a long piece of paper that will not fold down the middle. Tape/clip the paper to the top of your box. Positioning the paper this way imitates professional studio considerations and helps create a uniform background that you don’t have to retouch.
YOU’RE DONE! Position some lights near your screens and shoot. That’s it. Unless, of course, you’re like me, and your box is too small for your work samples.
Adjustments (size matters):
After using the box for a second, I realized it was too small for my needs. All my images included the sides of the box.
SOLUTION: Cut the box and split it in half. Use a wider piece of paper and clip it to each half of your box. No one will ever know.
You will get mostly crisp photos. Here’s an example of one of my portfolio pieces looking like your usual high-brow blurred out image.
I have to admit, the lightbox looked bad and many of my photos needed editing (cause I skipped the tripod stage for the first few pieces) but I’m pretty happy with how it all turned out.