Box Photography: A Comprehensive Guide To Taking Pictures in a Box
Have you ever seen a Box Photo? Taking pictures in a box is a relatively new trend in creative portraiture. Photographers construct one large box and capture photos of their subject playing and posing in the box. The best shots are singled out and placed together in Photoshop. This composite gives the appearance of one large stack of cubes. It’s even more fun if it looks like the people in the box interact with one another.
I decided a few months ago that I needed to give this fun new trend of taking pictures in a box a whirl. My amazing husband set to work building me a box big enough to fit at least a couple of people inside. Not only did my box photography box need to be large enough, but also sturdy enough to hold the weight of several people.
But First, Pictures in a Box – Mini-sized!
Part of his process when constructing the big box was to create a mini-box to ensure his dimensions were all correct. He brought the tiny box home, and I had so much fun with it. It was an excellent opportunity for me to practice setting up and taking pictures in a box. I had a great time picking some fun action figures from my son’s collection to test it out. Not long later, I moved on to some wooden mannequins used for drawing models. They were even more fun because I could pose them like real people!
If you would like to have a mini box of your own and some figures to practice with, check this out! You don’t need a rock star husband like mine to hand-craft you a tiny box. You can get one right here.
And you can find the wooden mannequins here. Of course, some of your kid’s toys work great, too!
Back to the Big Box
Even though the little box is a lot of fun to tinker with, I can’t take pictures in a box with real people. I was getting excited to have the big box on hand. But first, there’s a problem! A box of this size is a BEAST to move around. It just doesn’t fit through any average-sized doorway, so the box needs to stay in one location. You can build your box for box photography to disassemble so that it can be moved and re-assembled on site. Well, when I ask, my husband answers. He created the perfect box for me, so it was time to get to work by setting it up in my shiny new studio space at home.
Pictures in the box – tween boy style!
Once I had the box set up, I called on my kiddo and his buddy to help me practice taking photos. Of course, tween boys are not always thrilled to be in front of the camera, but they had a great time letting me take their pictures in the box! I told them to have fun and then stood by while they directed one another. A simple PROMPT for them was to use their whole body to try to fill the box. I let them know that they should try to touch all sides of the box and keep their limbs inside. Don’t worry if an arm or leg or hand hangs out a bit, though, cuz’ you can use that during your editing!
Pictures in the box – tween boys all tied up!
Another fun experiment we tried was to place an item so that it looks like the boys were interacting with one another between boxes. In the box photography example below, I used a length of paracord to string between the boxes. I wanted the final image to look like the boys on the outside were wrapping the cord around the boys in the middle. They LOVED this, and in the future, I would choose to use a more oversized cord or rope so it would be more obvious in the pictures in the box. It’s fun to have one person handing something to the other person, also. The sky is the limit here when it comes to creativity. Enjoy taking all of the photos because the real work in this project is editing, which comes next!
My friends at Simply Snapping Mom show you another way to create box photos here: How To Take Photo Box Pictures
Now for the Hard Work…
If you’ve been reading my other posts, you’ll already know that only a portion of a Photographer’s work comes from the camera. There is a whole different world to be discovered in editing, especially in box photography! I recommend Adobe Creative Cloud, which allows you to use Lightroom and Photoshop for a low monthly fee.
Now that you’ve taken all of your pictures in the box, you can send your models home and begin processing them into one big image. Let’s take a look at how it’s all put together.
Just kidding… Editing is the Fun Part!
First, I choose which shots are the standouts, showing the most personality and character. Next, if I haven’t already decided, now is the time to determine how many images I will put together into the composite. It helps at this point to choose what configuration you’d like for your final composite. You can choose a large square, a pyramid, or a rectangle. Any shape that you can fit a series of small squares into will work!
Time to Talk Box Photo Templates
Once you’ve selected your border and your winning photos, crop each of them with a basic 1 x 1 crop and layer them in Photoshop underneath the main border layer. You can toggle the border layer off and on or lower the opacity in the layers section to ensure you’ve lined everything up correctly. Check out some stages of the process below:
Step 1 – Crop
Step 1 – Crop individual pictures in the box and roughly align them under the border layer. You can hide the border layer or make it transparent to align your boxes.
Step 2 – Draw
Step 2 – Draw cords in the center box (use the clone or brush tool). Don’t forget to draw the cord across the fronts of the boxes.
Step 3 – Layer Mask
Step 3 – Now, you get to make your template layer 100% visible. See how the rope is still covered and the bottom right box hands are covered? Here is where I turn on the layer mask and use the brush to paint out the areas over the hands and the ropes.
Step 4 – Border
Step 4 – And finally! For this composite, I chose to add a green border that coordinated with their clothing.
You can get more detailed instructions for processing your pictures in a box into one large composite HERE.
Now Let Your Creativity Flow…
You can see how much fun this process is. Again, creativity is your best friend when editing your pictures in a box. I have a friend who has 11 children from their mid-20s down to toddler age. It would be nearly impossible for her to get her family all into one place at one time. Can you then imagine getting 13 people all lined up and smiling perfectly in unison? What a fun project this would be for her family! They wouldn’t all need to be in the exact location at the precise time. Since my box is portable, I could easily set it up on-site and get the family in at their convenience.
Picture in the box – A class project
Here’s a peek at another creative box photography project I just completed. Since Kindergarten, my fifth-grade son has been attending the Dual Language Immersion Program (Spanish/English) in our Public School district. Because the program was new when he was in K, there was only one immersion classroom in a rather large district. He has been in the same classroom with the same 27 students for six years now. These kids are more like cousins than friends at this point. Next year they leave the safety of their small language-based school to move into the large middle school.
My son asked me if we could do pictures in a box photo with his friends, so we made it happen! The students were all allowed to bring in some props from home to use in their photos. Every kid loved it – box photography success! Now they have a memento to bring with them as a reminder of those first six years they were together.
Wrapping it all up!
You now have all the information you need to get started in creating your pictures in a box. Give it a try and show me your results on my Veronicajune Photography Facebook Group HERE!
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