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What is a Lightbox?


As you have gone through various stock photography agencies, you may have noticed that they have “lightboxes,” but maybe you didn’t know what you would use that for. We will address that topic here, as most agencies use lightboxes for the same purpose throughout.

As you peruse the images through the various stock photography agencies, you will be given the option to put an image in your lightbox. If you don’t know what that is, then you are probably less likely to use it. But we think that it will be very beneficial to you, so we want to explain to you why you should use it.

A lightbox is essentially a place where you can save the images you are interested in, and later, go back to decide if you want purchase a license for it. Lightboxes most often put the photo you are interested in ahead of a solid background, often black, to enhance the features of the particular image and filter out what other images may take away. Your lightbox allows you to take some time to review the images, compare the images and examine them thoroughly before purchasing a license. Once you have spent hours performing your search, you don’t want to have to go through them again to decide on the one you want. The lightbox allows you to separate the ones you are interested in from those you don’t need.

In other terms, you could essentially think of your lightbox as your “cart.” Though you most likely won’t plan on purchasing everything in your lightbox, you are more likely to purchase something from the selection you have put into it.

Another use for a lightbox may be a presentation to others, as far as what is available for a project you are working on. You can compile a gallery of images after you’ve filtered through everything else, and have a discussion based on the images in your lightbox. Along the same lines, if you work remotely with your other coworkers, you could compile those images into a lightbox and share the lightbox with a contact via email. By being able to narrow down the images prior to others taking a look saves time and money for your company.

Image © Sophia Winters –


About the author

Amos Struck is the founder and editor of Stock Photo Press, a publishing company which operates several German and international stock photo online magazines, including (buy photos), (sell photos) and He is also creator of the Microstock Photo Plugin for WordPress, and – a company introducing stock photo venders to new sales outlets. He’s committed to shaping the future of the stock photo industry through innovation and strategic investments.

  • Spicy Spirit

    Dear Amos,

    I have a client who is a light box manufacturer. It is a signage indeed (e.g. A led light box panel: removed)

    I also know lightbox is a java script. So I’m wondering that are you talking about the latter or there’s a 3rd definition of lightbox? Please kindly advise. Thanks.

    • Amos Struck

      Thank you for your comment!

    • Amos Struck

      What should i explain? There are several usages for Lightboxes, we only explain one.

  • Matthew – What is a lightbox?

    If you want to see a pretty example of a lightbox with multiple overlays, you can come see this example (click on the name).