$10, 10-Minute Folding Photo Studio . How To-sday

March 2, 2010 separator DIY Tutorial

If you have an Etsy shop, or even if you just like to play around with your camera, you need to try this. My apartment is tiny tiny, so I don’t have room to keep a light box around all the time. I’ve improvised and made on that folds completely flat, and it only cost me ten bucks!


  • 3 sheets white foam board
  • exacto knife
  • clear packing tape
  • pencil
  • optional: ribbon and tack
1. Tape two sheets of foam board together along the long side. Does anybody remember elementary school where you folded paper either ‘hamburger’ or ‘hot dog?’ Well, tape your boards along the hot dog side.

2. Tape the corners as well. Make sure everything is perfectly lined up when you tape so that it opens out straight. Now you should be able to fold up like the picture.
3. Now take your third piece, and lay it on your work surface. Lay the other foam board across it in the opposite direction, and trace a line. You want this last piece to be a square.
4. Use your exacto knife to cut through the line you traced. Be careful with the knife, and yes, I do realize that my hands like they belong to an 85 year old woman.
5. Here comes the sort of confusing-to-explain part. You want this little square to fold behind your top piece, so you have to tape it to the back of only the top sheet of foam board, just like you did with the original set. You can open your first set and hang one side over your table to make sure you don’t tape it.
6. When you’re done, you can fold the whole thing completely flat for storage. When your ready to use it, set it up next to a sunny window, and just fold everything up. If you’d like to really secure the loose edge, tape a piece of ribbon to the back, and then tack it to the other loose edge.


  1. Great idea and super cheap! It’s great for light bouncing. Another super cheap trick is to cut out a cardboard box on each side and duct tape a white sheet to give it a soft, more natural light feel. This works great for food photography! I’m passing your tutorial along in my FoodieBloggerForum. Chrystal @ YUMeating.com

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  4. this idea is absolutely amazing!!!! thank you so much for sharing, i am in loveeee!!!!!!!!!!! i have been thinking about ways to get the studio/ lightbox feel for ever and then (drum roll….) i found this!!! amazing!!!

    love K

  5. Exactly! You just need to do it that way so that it has room to open out. Glad you figured it out!

    – Lindsay

  6. I think I got it now; I was trying to tape the whole length of the seam with the pieces lying side by side, flat on a table. I am now taping it with the pieces facing each other, and just taping over the edges, almost like a hinge. Is that right? It seems to be working. Thanks!!!

  7. When I tape the seams on the outside, I can’t get it to fold up. What am I doing wrong?! 🙂

  8. Anonymous – The tape is all on the outside of the setup. You shouldn’t have any showing on the inside. Hope that makes sense. 😀

    – Lindsay

  9. I have been trying to make this for a while. Won’t the tape show up in the seam when you try to take pictures? How do you avoid that?

  10. I think this will work a helluva lot better than the lightbox I attempted to make at one point. It was something of a spectacular failure. lol

  11. dicey – It basically just means ‘long-ways’ or ‘short ways.’ Hamburger would mean that you fold it to be short and thick; hotdog is long and skinny.

  12. Hi,

    could you please clarify what you mean by ‘hamburger’ or ‘hot dog’ sides when it comes to taping the two pieces of board together. Thanks!

  13. After I saw your fish lantern tutorial I was going to ask how you got such a clean, perfect background for your photos. I’m glad I checked here! What a great idea!

  14. i’m not sure I get the instructions just from reading now but i’m gonna get the material, i’m sure it’s going to be easier once everything is in front of me. thanks for the idea, taking good pictures of my craft has always been a nightmare for me !

  15. If you have small objects to photograph, this seems to be a perfect solution. I still am trying to perfect my photographing techniques for my paintings….lots of work to do on that front!

  16. What a great DIY project! Thank you for sharing that…
    (never heard of taping “hot dog” or “hamburger” though…cute)

  17. Great idea, Thanks for sharing this tip. I desperately need to start using a lightbox.

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