Does this sound familiar? You had a dream to start a blog. Not just any blog, but a blog where people would love to visit. You'd get tons of visitors a day, and they'd leave encouraging comments and laugh at your witty humor and fun posts. You'd share the things you love and help others in the process.
So, you did it. You started your blog. You gave it a catchy title, and you poured your heart and soul (and tons of time that your really didn't have to spare) into every post. You stayed up late, you neglected housework, you fed your family fast food (a lot), but your dream just didn't seem to work out. You built it, but nobody came. (Did you catch that Field of Dreams reference?)
How do I know about your failed dream? Easy. It was mine, too.
Don't give up yet! This month I'll be sharing some ideas to build your blog. Today my focus is on improving photos for your posts by using a light box. Before I started using a lightbox, my visitors were mostly my friends and family. Even though I linked up to tons of parties each week, I rarely got featured or pinned. My first post using a light box was featured 9 times!
Think about it. When you are browsing pinterest, facebook, emails from websites (or whatever source you use to find ideas), what is it that makes you want to click on a link and visit someone's site? Is it a catchy title? Is it their opening line? Most likely, it's the photograph. Now, think about your site. If you took away your text and title, would someone visit your site because of your picture? If not, this tutorial is for you!
DIY Photo Lightbox
The key to good photos is good lighting. Ideally, pictures should be taken outside in indirect sunlight (at a sunny time of day, but in the shade). Natural lighting is the best. I don't know about you, but I rarely get to work on projects during the day. Most of my work is done when it's already dark outside.
Want to know how to make your own lightbox? It's surprisingly easy.
You will need:
- A large cardboard box
- White paint or paper
- Masking tape
- *White muslin fabric (Blythe suggested in the comments that tracing paper will also work instead of muslin. Thanks, Blythe!)
- A box cutter
- Metal ruler (You can use wood or plastic, but metal works best with the box cutter.)
Need more details than the photo provides? Here you go:
- Select a box large enough to hold the majority of your projects, and paint the inside white. (You could line it with bright white paper instead)
- Cut windows in the right and left sides of the box--leaving a two-inch border all the way around.
- Cut the top flaps off completely. (Do not remove the bottom flaps.) Cut a window in the front of the box--leaving a one-inch border on the sides and top.
- Stretch muslin over side windows and tape in place. (To stretch it tightly, tape opposite edges and corners first.)
- Tape all the way around the muslin so that there are no holes.
- Put your box back together and secure with tape. (Fold the bottom flaps back together to make it sturdy.)
- Tape muslin over the entire top of the box.
- Cut white poster board to the width of your box and slide it in from the front. Trim the bottom so that it fits in the box. (The poster board can easily be replaced as it gets dirty. I tend to spill on mine when I photograph food!)
You're done! Now you just need lighting.
Go ahead and laugh, but this is how mine is set up. That lamp is sitting on top of my sewing machine, and those are really bright flashlights propped up on buckets to light the sides. I would love to have three lamps, but flashlights are much less expensive! (These are super bright ones from Costco.) I covered up my calendar and cleaned off the desk a bit for the other picture. This picture is reality. To take a well-lighted picture in a lightbox, your house doesn't have to be clean, and it doesn't matter what kind of clutter surrounds the box (as long as it doesn't cast shadows on the box)!
Just a couple more tips:
- For natural light, you should use a full-spectrum light bulb. I use GE Reveal 60 Crystal Clear Color Enhance Full-Spectrum bulbs.
- When taking photos in a lightbox, turn off the flash on your camera.
Want to see the difference with and without a flash? It's kind of amazing, don't you think?
(See the food stains on my cardboard? Time to replace it!)
I hope this tutorial is helpful. I'd be interested to know if it worked for you. Special thanks to HowtoWired.com and NinthandBird.com. I combined their ideas to make my own!
*Disclaimer: I need better lights. I would love to have a large, rectangular light for the top and more for the sides. Because my lights aren't perfect, I do sometimes have to lighten my pics in photoshop. To see better light fixture options, check out the links above.