Build Your Own Photo Booth

DIY photo booth built in basementBlogging is hard work, and chasing sunlight to take good photographs is not always possible after a full day of work. Since both my wife and I are bloggers, we decided to build this mini photo studio in an unused corner of the basement. The project doesn’t have a set height, width or depth, which allows you to customize it to your space. Find a good location in your house—ideally the spot would be permanent, but nothing is stopping you from putting it on casters. Just allocate for that in your measurement.

Notes: My booth is very large and had to be constructed on site. If you plan on building it elsewhere, consider using no glue and only screws, or scale the project down so it will fit through a standard residential door opening (about 36”).

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Step 1

 Open Galleryillustration for photo booth designSketch your studio. I used Trimble SketchUp (previously owned by Google) to do the plans. It’s a surprisingly easy program to learn and I encourage you to take the time. The basic version is free and very powerful. (Feel free to use my files, which you can find at right.) Note: I only added one cross brace for each side as opposed to two in the SketchUp file. After adding the first one all around, it was more than stable and I opted not to do the second one.

Step 2

 Open Galleryboards cut for making photo boothDetermine your cut list, then materials list and tools. I’ve included mine and you can adjust as necessary based on the size of your studio.

Cut List:

  • Four 2″ x 2″s that are 5’6”
  • Two 2″ x 2″s that are 3’4”
  • Two 2″ x 2″s that are 2’9”
  • Three 2″ x 2″s that are 3’1/2”
  • One 2″ x 2″ that is 1’3”
  • Two 1″ x 4″s that are 3’4”
  • Three 1″ x 4″s that are 2’9”
  • Eight 1″ x 4″s that are 1’7”
  • Four 1″ x 2″s that are about 4’3” (optional angle cut)*
  • Three 1′ x 1′ plywood squares
  • One piece of hardboard 3’4” wide by ~5’ long**

 

* Cutting the angle can be tricky and you don’t have to do this at all.

** Since we are working with the radius of a curve the final size might need to be adjusted to fit. My plan calls for a board just under 5’ long and was trimmed to fit.

Step 3

 Open Galleryconstruct frame for top of photo boothBuild a 2″ x 2″ frame that is the top of the studio. Make a box with 3’4”s at the top and the bottom and 2’9”s at each side. Pre-drill a pilot hole and then connect with a screw at each corner. You can squeeze a bit of glue between the boards to help prevent spinning. The final box will be 3’4” x 3’1/2”.

Step 4

 Open Galleryaffixing legs to photo boothAffix the legs to each corner of the box. This should be done on the short side of the box, making the final dimensions 3’4” x 3’4”. Repeat the process of pre-drill, glue and screw. If your floor is not level, consider adding floor levelers. If you want to make this portable, consider adding casters. Do either of these at this time before your project becomes too heavy!

Step 5

 Open Gallerybuild the box for the photo boothBuild the 1″ x 4″ box that will be the base of the studio table. Similar to the top, we will connect one 3’4” each for the top and the bottom and one 2’9” for each side. We are also adding one additional 2’9” into the middle for extra table support. Then you will pre-drill, glue and screw two screws into each connection. For quicker construction, you can use brad nails for this—1.5” is a good size to get but they can be longer without too much trouble. Remember to wear safety glasses.

Step 6

 Open GalleryAdd ribs to the studio table. Place these 4-5” apart starting from the front of the table on each side. This will get you just over halfway. These are best just glued since it is tricky to screw them back to back. You can stagger them if you like so they can be screwed.

Step 7

 Open Gallerywhere to place table legs on photo boothAffix the table to the studio legs at a good working height for you. Somewhere around mid-belly was ideal for me, which is about 3’. Pre-drill, glue and screw twice for each joint. Your structure should look something like this now.

Step 8

 Open Galleryphoto booth constructionUse the 1” x 2” pieces for diagonal braces below the table. If you placed your table lower than 36”, adjust your braces accordingly. Remember to always aim long since you can trim it later. Pre-drill, glue and screw to attach them. Trim to the desired angle, if you like.

Step 9

Set you compass to a 2′ diameter curve. On each of your 1′ x 1′ plywood pieces, put the compass at one corner and draw an arc to the corner that is diagonally opposite. The parts you want to keep are the triangular “scrap” pieces from the circle, which will form your ramp. You could potentially get two cuts out of one board, if you are feeling adventurous. Cut the curves with a jigsaw. This could be done with a manual saw but a powered jigsaw will be much quicker.

Step 10

 Open Galleryphoto booth back bracesTake the remaining 2” x 2”s and use them to brace the back of the studio. Place the 3’1/2” just below the top and spaced about 5” apart. Pre-drill, glue and screw. Add the final 2” x 2” that is 1’3” to connect the table to the bottom rear brace vertically.

Step 11

 Open Galleryphoto booth curve braces constructionGlue the curves into the back corners of the table, pointing vertically. There really isn’t a great way to screw this in, but I recommend clamping it and giving it some time to dry—2 hours should be okay.

Step 12

 Open Galleryhardboard wedged into photo booth frameWedge the hardboard on the table behind the legs and test for fit. You will probably have to trim a few inches off using a circular saw or jigssaw. A circular saw will give you a straighter cut. This should fit by pressure along but some staples help. You can glue but it would be tricky. Use your judgment.

Step 13

 Open Galleryhandmade photo booth painted whitePaint the entire project in white paint. Flat is ideal since it will not create a glare on your camera. Allow time to dry.

Step 14

 Open Galleryripstop nylon draped over photo booth to shootDrape your ripstop nylon over the sides and top to create a tent. This can stay by itself but will be better with staples. Add some lights and you are done. These could be construction lights from the hardware store, lamps from your living room or professional studio lights. Make sure the bulbs are the same in each so as not to have a different lighting temperature mixing in the box. You will need three: one for the top and one for each side. Shine them through the ripstop nylon.

Materials

  • Eight 2″ x 2″ x 8′ boards
  • Four 1″ x 4″ x 8′ boards
  • Four 1″ x 2″ x 8′ boards
  • One 4′ x 8′ sheet of hardboard
  • Can of flat white paint
  • 3 yards of ripstop nylon
  • One 1′ x 3′ sheet of plywood (any thickness)
  • Wood Glue
  • Screws
  • Four Floor Levelers (optional)
  • Brad Nails (optional)
  • Construction Staples (optional)

Tools

  • Drill
  • Pilot Drill Bit (1/8” +/-)
  • Phillips Head Driver for Drill
  • Chop Saw or Hand Saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Circular Saw
  • Large Compass or Trammel
  • Optional (Pneumatic Brad Nailer)
  • Optional (Manual or Pneumatic Stapler)

Related Skills

Woodworking

About Nick Britsky 

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I am a digital account executive by day and seeker of new skills by night. Maker Faires are my passion, and I have built projects ranging from giant Twinkie cars ...

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