Parchment Paper Light Box for Natural Light

Yes, you read the title correctly! Did you know you can use parchment paper for more than baking? You can! I use it for all sorts of things but, the most unique is for my photography. Let’s face it, you can have the most beautiful cookies in the world and they can look bad because of poor photos. I will never be a professional photographer but, I am always looking for an inexpensive way to take better pictures. I came up with a Parchment Paper Light Box to see if I could use it in natural light. It is not pretty but MAN it works for me! I might invest in “real” photography equipment someday but, for now, this is what I use.

I have been reading “Plate to Pixel Digital Food Photography & Styling” by Helene Dujardin. Her blog is full of amazing photos and I get lost in the beauty ever time I visit it. Anyway, in her book, she says natural light is her favorite to shoot photos in. I agree with her but, since I will never be a pro I don’t need to invest a fortune in photo equipment. I also work a full time job so taking pictures at the perfect time of day, when the light is right, isn’t always an option for me. Sometimes I take pictures at 3 am or when I run home for lunch so I need to be creative to get the best shot I can.

Do you remember Sunshine my first light box? She is what inspired me to make my Parchment Paper Light Box.

Here is an example of why I wanted a light box for outside or with full sun by the window. I took the first picture in the light box with only the sun shining. This picture has good light and no shadows unlike the second picture. The second picture is OK but, the shadows are really bad and the color is washed out.

If you want to make a light box with parchment paper for natural light photos, then follow the tutorial for Sunshine. Then, come back here for the final steps.

Once you have your box, you need a sharp knife to cut a window in the back, top and each side. It doesn’t have to be neat because no one will see it. Don’t cut the bottom board. It is the support that holds this baby together.
Then, using masking tape, apply parchment paper to the outside of each window you cut. The parchment paper will act like a thin curtain to filter the light. You will have natural light pictures but no shadows. I know this is not as good as the real filters you can buy but, this is a very inexpensive way to filter the sun.

Note: Learn from my mistake! See the bend in the top edge of the box? I have a habit of grabbing the box by the top when I move it and I bent the top edge. The cut windows are not very strong. If you pick it up by the bottom you wont have this problem.

Here are some other photography tips that helped me from Sweet Sugar BelleThe Pioneer Woman and RecipeGirl:

Sweet Sugar Belle- Cookie Photography For Dummies
The Pioneer Woman- What the Heck is Shutter Speed?
The Pioneer Woman- What the Heck is Aperture? Part One 
The Pioneer Woman- ISO Setting 
RecipeGirl- if you’re into food photography and styling…

Happy Creating,



  1. Lisa, this is a great tip, I also use parchment paper, or sometime tracing paper as that is not as thick and seem to let more light in when needed. Your box looks great.

  2. Lisa, this is so helpful! I was wondering what to do about those shadows. I’m going to try this. Thank you so much!

  3. Lisa, this is so helpful. I start to read photography tips and my eyes glaze over. No glazing here.
    Makes perfect sense to use the parchment.

  4. TriciaZ says:

    You’re a genius, my friend!!! Thanks for sharing all of your awesome ideas!

  5. Oh Linky, I really like this idea, but feel sooo bad for Sunshine. Mooncloud shed a tear to see Sunshine’s insides carved away, but for the love of a beautiful photo we could totally understand. (I do think Mooncloud has hidden all my knifes though!)

  6. Awesome idea. :)

  7. Sweetsugarbelle says:

    Uh oh!!! I feel a light box coming on!!! Love it!

  8. What a great idea. I also work full time and since I take the pictures at night I have issues with shadows.
    A homemade lightbox needs to be on my to do list.

  9. Great recycling of Sunshine! I had a Sunshine once too, cut hole out in the top and sides for lamps (covered in parchment) to shine through when photography at night. Still found that it left the white background looking a little yellowish. I like your parchment covered light box much better and will give that a try. Like you…it is still *maybe one day* before I invest in expensive lighting equipment and whatever works well until then is fine by me 😉

    • Try setting your camera on Tungsten lighting. It is a white balance setting. You can chose clouds, sun, shade, tungsten, or florescent light. If I leave my white balance set to anything other that tungsten when photographing in my light box, the pictures are yellow. Give it a try and you will amazed!!!

      Let me know how it works:)

  10. Lisa thanks so much for the tip on the Tungsten lighting setting. I will try it 😉

  11. Wow! I love this post! While I love decorating cookies, I love taking pics of my cookies and other food! You’ve inspired me to
    A-buy the book you mentioned
    B-get rid of shadows in pics,
    C-make a box!
    Thanks for sharing!

  12. Connie Beal says:

    The Light Box works! No shadows! I was lucky yesterday when I went to Michaels to buy the board it was on sale .99! I taped the corners with athletic tape first, bought it at the $1.00 store. Easy to remove without tearing the board. Then bought the white duck tape (cheaper than duct tape) at Wallmart $2.39 to tape over the athletic tape. Originally I made the cardboard light box (Lisa’s Sunshine) but used light muslin instead of the parchment paper. Lisa is right, be careful not to grab it in the middle when picking it up. It bent so I had to reinforce the inside cardboard at the top with stiff poster board. Going to replace the cloth with parchment. Will save this box for taking pictures outside in Sunny California.

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