DIY Mini Photo Studio

Our household is spawning blogs like bunnies. Since I need all the help I could get, I thought it would be good to up my photo game. We’ve been using a bay window to take some of our pictures. So I started researching a mini photo studio solution.

The goal was to combine a light tent and an infinity wall all in a desktop model. I started by mocking it up in Sketch-up.

All the wood was cut at i3 Detroit, my local hackerspace and brought home for assembly.

The hardest part was figuring out the curve. Sketch-up was a huge help and with little math I figured out the length while leaving a gap to wiggle it in. I used hardboard as it had the most flex and kept me from having to kerf plywood.

A few coats of flat white paint and some lights from the hardware store and this is starting to look like a little studio.

Cover the walls in ripstop nylon from the fabric store and you are all set.

Check out some more pictures here as well as the sketch-up files (right click save as).

Author Description


Nick is a cocktail enthusiast from Royal Oak, Michigan. His passion started in college by converting his loft into a tiki bar and equipping it with a selection of tools, glassware and liquors that rivaled most local bars. He currently spends his time researching uncommon and forgotten drinks, reading bartending books and building his ever expanding selection of bitters.

There are 30 comments. Add yours

  1. 4th September 2012 | Bethany says: Reply
    looks great - can't wait to see more pictures using it!
    • 4th September 2012 | Nick says: Reply
      Thanks! You are welcome to use it anytime too!
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  3. 4th September 2012 | Luke Townsley says: Reply
    I'm going to check out the Sketchup files. I've been thinking about building a light tent for my woodworking business. Thanks for posting. Luke
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  5. 5th September 2012 | kwixson says: Reply
    Instead of hardboard or plywood you could have used some white Formica from your local big-box home improvement store. Already white (flat white, actually, which is good), durable, waterproof and bends pretty well. To save space I have the Formica sheet tacked to the wall and when I need to set up for photography I pull the bottom out and clamp it to a bit of plywood on top of a pair of sawhorses. The drawback there is that there isn't the built-in mount/support for the scrim and lights that your setup has.
    • 5th September 2012 | Nick says: Reply
      Great idea. As long as it has a matte finish, which it looks like yours has, then you should be good. Sounds like your idea saves a lot of space too.
  6. 7th September 2012 | Tim says: Reply
    This is awesome. Is the back curve just a quarter circle, or is that some sort of parabolic thing going on?
    • 7th September 2012 | Nick says: Reply
      Yeah. Just a quarter circle which is about as much math and woodworking I wanted to mix. A parabolic thing would be cool.
  7. 7th September 2012 | Kim says: Reply
    Ohh that's fantastic! Reminds me of a skateboard ramp. I should have built myself one of these when I was taking pictures of all the drinks for my iphone app. Would have saved a ton of photoshop work. Do you have any tips for reducing pesky reflections off cocktail glasses?
    • 7th September 2012 | Nick says: Reply
      What are you shooting with? You could try a polarizing filter.
  8. 7th September 2012 | Eduardo says: Reply
    Hello! Can you please tell the dimensions of your mini-studio? Thanks!
    • 7th September 2012 | Nick says: Reply
      The exact dimensions are in the Sketchup file. I think it was 60" x 40" x 40". The height is based on the ceiling in my basement and you could scale it up or down. I would highly recommend learning Sketchup it's free and there are many videos on it. I was using it after about 30 min of videos.
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  10. 7th September 2012 | Saptarshi says: Reply
    Do you suppose this would be ideal for food photography? Or would it require more suffused light?
    • 8th September 2012 | Nick says: Reply
      It's really good for anything. It is a DIY version especially for the lighting so if you up the game on that a bit, it would be better. I'm using it for cocktails (similar to food), my fiance is using it for craft projects and my father is using it for HO trains.
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  12. 9th September 2012 | Kevin says: Reply
    Just wondering , is it possible , (for the really lazy people like me) to get sketch up to print out all the pieces you need annd then just take that list to the hardwood store ? or can I get a " parts list" some other way ? Basicly I need to just get all the wood cut to the right sizes and so forth
    • 9th September 2012 | Nick says: Reply
      No problem. I was asked to do a step by step which would include a cut list. Give me a week or two and you'll have your wish.
      • 21st March 2015 | Minna says: Reply
        Hi! Love this! I was wondering if you did post a step by step and cut list? I would love to attack a project like this!
        • 21st March 2015 | Nick says: Reply
          I did. I also have version 2.0 done but I haven't written the post yet. I'll keep you updated.
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  14. 10th September 2012 | Mark Crummett says: Reply
    Very nice, but seems little over done. How about just getting a light tent? They have up to 70 x 70 x 70 for less than $100.
    • 11th September 2012 | Nick says: Reply
      Certainly but where is the DIY spirit. :)
      • 11th September 2012 | dave says: Reply
        And the light tent that you have linked to, is not the equivalent of the light table that was built here. Two different products, two different uses.
  15. 11th September 2012 | Francis says: Reply
    If you've gone this far, you might as well go the next step and get yourself some real lights. A couple of used manual speedlights and a sync cord would do you good.
    • 11th September 2012 | Nick says: Reply
      Totally. That is the next step. I'm also using a really basic camera so that purchase will come too.
      • 11th September 2012 | peter says: Reply
        Speedlites(lights) are nice, but I think you could do just fine with the nylon diffusers and cheap work lights you've got (certainly makes all your lights one color temp, which is good). Looking at the images I think the next big improvement would be a better lens. A "nifty-fifty", 50mm f/1.8, lens on just about any used entry-level dSLR would cost only a few hundred bucks and enable you to really adjust the depth of field and get very sharp images for web use. To answer the question on why not just buy one of the ready-made "light tents" (other than the DIY!), those things are a bitch to clean and you better not spill liquids on them. Your mini-cyc wall will be much more durable. Cool project.
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