How To Create Better Lighting With a DIY Scrim

Shooting portraits outdoors in direct sunlight can lead to some pretty gnarly shadows. To help soften the natural light, photographer Kevin Kubota suggests using a scrim. Professional scrims can be a bit on the costly side, so Kubota suggests building your own to save you some green:

DIY Scrim Supplies

  • 3/4 inch PVC pipe (three 10-foot pieces)
  • PVC T-Fittings, unthreaded (4)
  • PVC Corners (4)
  • Measuring Tape
  • Permanent Marker
  • Knife
  • Scissors
  • PVC Glue
  • Elastic Cord
  • 1-inch Elastic
  • Rip-Stop Nylon (Parachute Material) in White
  • Sewing Machine or Needle and Thread

diy lighting

Constructing a Scrim

1. Lay the PVC pipe out on the floor in a large rectangle with a cross bar in the center.

2. Glue just one side of each of the T-fittings and corners to the pipe. Mark the ends without glue with a Sharpie to guide you when you’re disassembling the scrim.

3. Before attaching the tubes, you’ll thread an elastic cord through the perimeter. This way, the whole apparatus can collapse down so you can take it anywhere.

window scrim instructions

Run elastic cord through the frame.

4. You’ll need to use your sewing skills to attach the 1-inch elastic to the rip-stop nylon. This creates loops that secure the fabric to the frame of the scrim.

lighting fabric

Sew elastic onto the corners of the fabric.


5. The scrim can stand on its own if you build a couple of legs, or you can simply attach it to a light stand with a clamp.

scrim lighting

This sort of scrim lets you make soft “window light” no matter where you’re shooting.

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