You are my Sunshine, (light box tutorial)

My only sunshine, You make me happy when skies are gray, You’ll never know dear, how much I love you. Cause you make my picture turn out great! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!)

This is my light box. I have named her Sunshine. She is my sunshine in the rain, at midnight or even at noon when skies are gray.  She has changed the way I take pictures FOREVER! This post is not filled with perfect pictures because I did not have my light box to put them in so please forgive me.

Want to see the difference she makes?

Both pictures were taken the same way and tweaked the same. Can you guess which one was in Sunshine? You got it! The second photo was taken in the light box!  Want to make a light box for yourself? It is simple and fast!


5 sheets of White Foam board 20 x 30 x 3/16”
Masking tape or Duct Tape-I used white Duct Tape
Sharp knife

Before we start let’s talk tape. I looked online before I made this box. I read about different tapes that were recommended. Some people recommended masking tape and others recommended painters tape because they are easy to remove and reapply. This would be good if you don’t intend to leave your box set up all the time. If you live in a small space and want to take your box apart and store in a closet or under your bed, I suggest masking tape for you.

I use my box almost every day. I want a tape that will be sturdy and take the wear, tear, and abuse I intend on putting it through so I used duct tape. Choose what works best for you.

First, you need to gather all the supplies listed above.

Then, place one of the sheets of foam board on the edge of your table. The long edge should be hanging over the edge.

Next, you need a piece of tape the length of the board. I tried to hold two pieces of foam board and apply the tape at the same time and I quickly found an easier way. If you apply the tape to the edge of one board it will be easier to assemble. Leave about half of the tape hanging off the edge.

See! This is much easier that holding both and applying tape at the same time.

Make sure the edges are flush so the box will be sturdy. See the second picture for a guideline.

Line up the two boards and push down the tape.

Next, apply another board the same way you did the first two. When you get these three pieces attached set it aside.

For the next steps, you will need the ruler, pencil, tape, knife, tape and two boards.

 For the size foam boards I used, I need the sides to be cut into a 20” x 20” square. Cut your sides the size you need.

 If you are lucky like me your foam board will have the measurements on it. I knew mine would be 20” x 20” before I measured.

Now carefully cut the board with your knife. 

Once you get the boards cut, place tape on three edges.

Next, get the 3 full size boards you tapped together earlier and apply the 20”x 20” piece on one end.

Turn the box around and apply the other 20”x 20” piece to the other end.

You could stop there but my go big or go home attitude makes me apply more tape! I am going to hang lights to one side and the top so I need this baby to be sturdy!!!

More tape on top!

More tape in the corners on the inside!

I even covered the edge where I cut it with the knife with tape. (Insert the Tim the Tool man Talyor grunt here!)

Then you can insert your favorite background board. What? You don’t have one? I will do a tutorial on those soon so you can have your very own:)

Here is what my Sunshine looks like with the lights attached. You can use any lights you want but these work best for my needs. As you can see this is not attractive! This is a good reason to use masking or painters tape so you can break it down when your mom or mother-in-law comes for a visit.

I had a few questions about the lights I use so I thought I would share that information with everyone. I use clamp lights that I bought at Wal-Mart. You can also get them from Amazon or Home Depot. I use  regular bulbs with the wattage that was recommended by the manufacturer. I know these are not professional photography lights and maybe someday I can afford a studio with all the bells and whistles but for now, this is what I use and it works for me.

 I know most people are like me and have a hard time taking pictures this time of year. There is a very small window of time when the sun is shining just right to get a good cookie photo. Now I don’t have to watch the sky to see when I can take pictures.  I thought you might need a little Sunshine in your life and for your pictures!

NOTE: When you take photos in your light box, you need to set your camera’s White Balance setting to “Tungsten” or your photos will turn out yellow.

Happy Creating,



  1. Wow! You are so sweet to put this out there for everyone. What a difference this makes! I was wondering why my pics were so ugly! (that’s why I don’t have any up yet). You rock! Thanks!

  2. Well I know what’s doing on my to-do list. Living in Alaska, its hard to get good pictures of my treats these days. Thanks so much for posting the tutorial

  3. Jody - East Coast Cookies says:

    Lisa! I am loving your new blog!! Congrats!!
    So nice to see all your new cookie creations too! This lightbox is great – Makes me want to make one too! Do you use any special settings on your camera?

    • I bought the book Plate to Pixel by Helene Dujardin. Her book is wonderful. I learned how to get my camera off Auto so I could get the picture the way I wanted them. I would recommend it to anyone.

  4. I’ve always wanted to make one of these….thanks so much for the tutorial….I just read your post to the hubby….(he’s a builder….) so surely he can help me!!!! LOVE, LOVE all your cookies by the way!!!Dying to make your penguin cookies for my little guy’s first birthday…..but this weekend it is all about firetrucks for my middle man’s birthday!!!!

  5. You are so sweet naming this box Sunshine!!! Love you!! It really makes a difference, the colours pop! Since Pam made hers I’ve always wanted to make one, but I need a place to store it, lol… I bought Helene’s book and am loving it, Lisa! Now it’s harder than ever to take pics I like enough to share :) I took some pics for a tuto on my granite counter and didn’t like them at all, so I bought a sheet of wood, cut it in half and painted one side with white acrylic paint (it wasn’t easy ’cause I don’t have much experience and still have 3 sides to paint!). I’ll shoot tomorrow and hope my pics look better… xox

  6. Hi Lisa! Thanks for the tutorial! What kind of light bulbs are you using?


  7. This is just wonderful, Lisa! So clever and so perfectly described! Your whole blog is just fantastic! You have just such an incredible amount of talent, my friend.

  8. I desperately need to make one of these. With my full-time job schedule, I’m never able to take pictures during the daylight. This will be such a lifesaver!!!!! Thanks for sharing!!

  9. FANTASTIC! Wish oh WISH I would have seen this before investing in the lowel ego lights…..*sniffle*…….what a great tutorial.

  10. Lisa, I love your blog!


  11. Thanks for the awesome tutorial! Was wondering, what kind of lights do you use and where can I buy them?

    • Melissa, I have added the light information and some links where to buy them at the end of the tutorial. They are common clap lights you can get at Wal-Mart, Home Depot or Amazon.

  12. Mighty Morgan says:

    I love this….I never, ever, ever thought to even go something like this!!!! Your do smart :0) Thank you Sooooooooo much for sharing!!!!

  13. Yay! You posted just in time! I bought my foam boards before the holidays and am just finally getting to the point I have time to work on my box. Thanks for inspiring me to take better pictures :) I REALLY hate trying to catch the right sunlight.

  14. Wow! Thanks so much. This is such a boon of information.

  15. Elizabeth L in Apex, NC says:

    Perfect timing, I am just preparing to build a light box, too! Many thanks.

  16. Lisa, I just found you through SugarBelle’s post on FB and I can’t tell you how happy I am that I did!!
    I knew this post was for me when I read the first few lines – my son and I used to sing that to each other when he was a toddler – great memories!!
    I am so needing to bring my photography to the next level and I know this box would definitely help me.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

    • Awe Lynne, you are so sweet! I am glad that song brought you good memories. I hope you sing it all day! I am happy you are going to make yourself a light box and hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoy mine.

  17. OH MY GOSH!!! I finally figured out what that the cookie cutter I saw at micheals is!!!! I have been racking my brain!! its the pengiun!!! You have just solved a mystery for me!!! its too cute too!

  18. One of my New Year Resolutions is to take better photos of my cookies — thank you so much for your post — this couldn’t have come at a better time! (Hayley from HayleyCakes and Cookies recommended your post on this subject) Thank you for sharing your Sunshine!

  19. I love this idea but have a dumb question. How did you photograph the penguin cookie inside Sunshine (shown at the top of this post)? I don’t have a photography background but to me, it’s a straight on shot. Did you prop up the cookie inside the box and shoot it from outside the box? I would love to know how you did it because what a difference it makes using the box! Thanks!

    • Hi Anne, I did prop the penguin up with 2 jars of Disco Dust stacked on top of each other. I didn’t want it flat on the board. I use whatever is on hand and is the right height for the photo. If you plan on eating the cookie make sure you use a food safe item for propping. I take all the photos from the outside of the box. Hope this helps.

  20. That helps a bunch! Thank you for answering so quickly – I will be constructing my own Sunshine this weekend. No more yellow pictures!


  21. Kimberly (Sweet Creations) says:

    Lisa, are you using Fluorescent Bulbs? Thank you for sharing how to do this. I had to take pictures early yesterday morning cause the cookies were leaving early and my pictures where aweful. I am going to make one of these!

    • Kimberly, I hate your pictures didn’t turn out the way you wanted. I am using fluorescent bulbs because that is what I had. I am sure there are better bulbs for photography out there but for now fluorescent is what I use. I am going to do some research soon and compare pictures with different bulbs and do a post on it so keep checking back for updates.

  22. I am so glad you posted this. My photos have been in need of some light. My husband and I put this together this afternoon and I am just thrilled with my new “toy”. Thank you!

  23. Lisa – this is just brilliant!!! I will be trying my best to make Sunshine’s sister, Mooncloud! Wish me luck! xo (Kim)

  24. Do you have any info on your background board yet? I just made my light box tonight and can’t wait to explore how I’d put in different backgrounds too! I was thinking about using different designs of tablecloths or napkins…but after doing some shopping, the idea of a “board” verses table linens sounds much more affordable!

  25. Hi Lisa,
    Just found your website and this great tutorial explaning “Your Sunshine Box”. Thank you so much for sharing. Now my hubby has a project to tackle this weekend. I was going to mail my sample cookies to my cousin in New York (I live in Alabama) so she could take professional pictures for my album. Thanks to you I will try to photograph them myself.
    Thank you again!

    • I am so happy you don’t have to mail them! I always stress so much when I mail cookies. I have only had one to break but it was the main one to that set.

      Let me know if you have any questions:) You will have your very own Sunshine:)

  26. This is great! I guess my pictures are terrible. I can try this once I get my cookie closet set up. Yes, I will have a closet. I figured taking over my daughter’s bedroom would be mean. I’m going to take some pictures using the light box next time I make cookies. Thanks so much!

  27. OMG Lisa, you are not officially my hero! I’ve been stalking light boxes online, dropped hints etc. I’ve also looked at making my own, but this is way easier than anything I’ve seen. Now I have a new project to do. Thanks chicky!

  28. Thanks for sharing. I thought all bloggers lived in fancy all white houses that lead to the perfect pics. I would just have to find a spot for it!

  29. LISA!! Mooncloud arrived today – earlier than the doctor expected! So excited, once I figure out how to put it together I’ll let you know if I have any luck! :) Well, actually you should be able to tell by my photos if it works! HA HA

  30. Home Girl says:

    I have been wanting a tutorial on making a light box for soooooooo long and now I have found yours!! Thank you so much. I had been struggling with the light issues until I figured out where the best light is in this house and how to use it, but on those rainy days or at night and I need light…now I can have it. Awesomeness!!!!

  31. Thanks for sharing. I often spend quite a good hours editing my photos. This will definitely save up a lot of my time :)

  32. Hey! Wanted to say that I went out and bought all the items to make this- only to think, how am’i going to take shots of my items without having to prop it up? The box looks fairly big. Is it tall enough to get the camera inside and take shots from the top? For things that lay flat, ie: hair bows, it seems this may still be hard to do. Please tell me this works without having to prop items up. For those wondering about lights, Get daylight bulbs. Get the highest wattage your lights will hold, 90 watt or even 100 watt. The brighter, the better…

    • I have taken a lot of pictures in the box. Sometimes I put the camera in the box and sometimes on the out side of the box. If you want a picture from above, stand the box on it’s side.

  33. Wanted to share that my mother in law came over to help put this together! I Love it! It is nice and roomy in size. she was going around the room to get things to snap photos of for practice! lol! I believe “sunshine” will be my new best friend. For those looking for lights, I had a hard time finding them.Walmart did not have them. Lowe’s only had 75watt bulbs. I think the lights will be bright enough and the photos can always be brightened up in the Picassa3 i use.
    Thank you soooooooooooooooo much!

  34. Thanks so much for this tutorial.

  35. Hi, my camera doesn’t have the tungsten setting.. is there another name for it?

  36. Helen Bailey says:

    My Nikon coolpix S9500 has the white balance as an auto setting?
    Any ideas?

  37. Svetlana says:

    Hi Liza. Do you still use this method? Your photos are fantastic. they are very beautiful. I want to do the same box and ordered the same lamps.

    You magic fairy) Thank you.

    From Russia with love. Sveta.

    • Hi Svetlana,

      It is funny that you asked me that. I am going to update that post this week! LOL I will try to post it tomorrow for you. 😉

      I will say that light box helped me so much the first few years of blogging. I don’t use it now since blogging is my full time job I decided to invest in some lights to help me shoot at night. I will tell you all about it in my post.

      • Svetlana says:

        Oh, thanks for such important information. :) I’m going to look forward to. You are so responsive ! That’s awesome! Thank U Lisa.
        Sorry, I’m in the previous post misspelled your name. I am very ashamed. In Russia we have a name Lisa, but it is pronounced Liza.Sorry again. :*

  38. This is just what I need😆 do you use a dslr camera?

    • HiLindsay,
      I do use DSLR camera. I love natural light but sometimes you just have to shoot at night. This has really helped me. Let me know if you have an questions.

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