Tips to Survive a DIY Photo Booth Experience
Most everyone has probably been to some type of event that had a photo booth set up for the guests. Photo booths seem to have gained a lot in popularity, especially at weddings, but you may see them at birthday or retirement parties, or a variety of other gatherings. They can be lots of fun and offer little pressure to those being photographed. Even those who generally don’t like sitting in front of a camera will often break out of their shell, garner a few props, and take a few silly photos. Not only is it a fun experience that will leave some fond memories, but the resulting photos can be a valuable keepsake for the guests who get involved as well as the event’s honorees.
Recently, I was asked if I could set up a photo booth at a big surprise going-away party. This wasn’t a paid gig, but rather a favor for friends and something I wanted to try out. After all, it’s just a matter of setting up a camera, a light or two, and letting people take pictures of themselves. Pretty simple, right? Well, there is a bit more to it than that, so I took to the internet to learn what I could about setting up a photo booth. What I found was information that was either over-simplified, using a point-and-shoot camera and maybe a flash, or a much more complicated system utilizing a full enclosure and lots of fancy (and expensive) gear that I don’t have
scout the Location
As with most types of photography, but especially where portraits of people are involved, it’s a good idea to scout out the location of the shoot to get a ‘lay of the land’. There are a few things to look for on these reconnaissance missions that will help you prepare your gear and to make sure you have everything you need when the shoot starts. This will help to increase your confidence level and also help to remove some of the variables so that you can focus on providing the best experience possible. For my particular experience, the event was being held in a location that I was familiar with, so I already had some idea of what to expect
OK, so it is Tip #2, but safety should always be paramount, especially when we are photographing people, and particularly for a photo booth, because there is lots of activity, with people coming and going. Be sure to eliminate or at least minimize any tripping hazards, such as cables, extension cords, tripod or light stand legs, etc. If anything is left unsecured, there is a chance it could take a tumble if it gets bumped or someone catches a foot on it in all the excitement
Establish Some Rules
This one kind of goes along with the previous tip. A photo booth will generally consist of lots of photography gear, including your camera, tripod, and lighting setup. People will be in and out of the photo booth all evening, so you want to be sure that equipment stays just as safe as the guests. Unless you plan to closely monitor the photo booth (and even if you do), it’s a good idea to set some rules beforehand. This is particularly applicable if there will be a lot of kids at the event. In all of the busy-ness, it can be difficult to keep track of everything that is going on and what each person is doing
Tips for Creating a Seriously Fun DIY Photo Booth
When it comes to wedding reception activities, photo booths are still as popular as ever and DIY photo booths, in particular, are perfect for couples looking to save a little money. You don’t need fancy equipment or a lot of extra stuff to make the perfect photo booth for your wedding. With these tips, we’ll show you how to create a seriously fun DIY photo booth that will encourage your guests to strike a pose and fit in seamlessly with your design aesthetic — all without busting your budget!
Get creative with the backdrop
The backdrop is the focal point of your photo booth, so you want to make sure it’s eye-catching without being too distracting. Think ribbons, curtains, banners, balloons, or chalkboard walls with cute phrases. You can keep it as simple or get as fancy as you’d like; you just need to give guests a designated area that will look cute in photos — and on its own when guests aren’t using it!
Light it up
When you’re putting together the lighting plan for your wedding reception, don’t forget to include lighting in and around the photo booth. This can be anything from clever neon signs to curtains lined with twinkle lights. If you’re hanging lights in the background, make sure to also place lights in front of the camera — pointed toward the booth, placed at average nose level — so that your guests’ faces are completely visible in the photos. A selfie light would be the perfect choice to add direct, high-quality lighting! For all our tips on choosing the correct wedding lighting and a handy checklist, check out our ultimate guide to wedding lighting.
Provide plenty of props
The best parts of any photo booth are the props, so make sure to provide as much variety as possible. Etsy is full of shops that provide signs, cutouts, and masks that would be perfect for your DIY photo booth (see our favorites linked below). But, keep in mind, you can also find hats, wigs, glasses, jewelry, and other accessories at thrift stores, second-hand stores, costume shops, or even your own closet. The sillier and more outrageous the better!
Set up in a highly visible location
The whole point of a photo booth is to capture all of your guests in a totally informal, seriously fun way, so you’ll want to make sure all your guests can see it no matter where they are at the reception. If possible, don’t shove your photo booth in a corner or set up in a separate room. There will be so many other things happening at your reception and, if guests don’t see it, they’ll simply forget about it. Think of this as another focal point for your design and set it up in an area that everyone can see but still gives people plenty of space to take individual, small group, or large group photos. Also, don’t forget to set up a directional sign pointing guests straight to the booth!
FIND THE BEST PHOTO BOOTH FOR YOU
Five Tips to Help You Find the Best Photo Booth for You
A photo booth is a must-have for your wedding. There are multiple purposes for one including wedding favors, a guestbook, and simply a fun way to incorporate a memorable element to your big day. Each photo booth company will be a little different than the next. Not only do you want to find the perfect one for your wedding theme, but also you do not want to waste your money on a lackluster experience.
Do Your Research
Learn about whom they are, the type of events they have done, and if they are known in the wedding community Do the company and staff seem reputable on popular wedding sites? Read different reviews and customer testimonials
Don’t Settle for Subpar Quality Photos
Don’t be afraid to ask about the type of equipment (i.e. camera and printer) the photo booth uses. This will make the difference between lasting memories and mediocre photos. Most photo booths use either point and shoot cameras or digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras. DSLR cameras produce better images, however, if the company does not use this camera, there probably is a good reason – find out. (some even use webcams)A camera is only as good as its printer. Generally, photo booth companies use either dye sublimation printers or ink jet printers. Dye sublimation printers will result in better picture quality due to how differently the photos are processed. Dye sublimation printers require heat to transfer dyes while ink jets spray droplets onto the paper.
Request to See the Photo Booth Ahead of Time
Some companies sell you the photo booth experience but will show up with a tripod camera, portable background, and a laptop. This is probably not what you were looking for. By asking to see the photo booth ahead of time, you will have better peace of mind that your memories will be captured in the way that you imagined
A La Carte
While some photo booth companies advertise low prices and package deals, notice the fine print. For example, certain add-ons are extra charges that should be included. Typically
Photo Booth Tips to Rock Your Next Event
Rent, Don’t DIY
Setting up a DIY photo booth might seem like a great way to save a few bucks on an already-pricey event, but the money you save is rarely worth the extra hassle. When you do the photo booth yourself, you’ll be responsible for everything: setup, troubleshooting, breakdown, and making sure the printer has enough paper.
Know What You Want
Photo booths have come a long way since the 1980’s. There are a plethora of different styles, features, and colors that will either add or take away from your experience
Be Wary of “Cheap”
This is one of our most important photo booth tips, because the company that you use has a huge effect on your photo booth experience. A super-low price could indicate a newer (i.e. less experienced) company, poor quality cameras, a lack of insurance, or a bargain-basement package with nothing else included.
Consider Your Timeline
Most photo booth are rented for a period of four hours, but rather than starting your rental period at the beginning of your event, think about your timeline first
Look For Digital + Physical Images
Digital and physical photos both have their advantages, but when you choose one over the other, you miss out on a lot! With a digital image, you’re free to email, tweet, pin, and ‘gram to your heart’s content. And with a physical photo strip, you won’t have to scroll through a million selfies in your camera roll to find it.
Tips for a Fabulous Wedding Photo Booth Experience
A photo booth is a wonderful item to include in your wedding reception. It will help loosen your guests up, give them an activity to do when they need a break from dancing, and leave them with a fun souvenir from the fabulous night. I spoke with Nashville photographer Arline Beets of Ace Photobooths to learn a few handy tips for selecting a photo booth for the big day. Also, to learn more about Arline and her photography, check out an earlier interview we did with Ace Photography on creating unique photos for you and your groom!
Decide what type of photo booth you’re looking for.
Arline tells us that one of the first steps in photo booth success is determining what booth structure will best fit your needs. She explains that when people use the phrase “photo booth” nowadays, it can mean so many different things. For some, it’s simply a photographer with a camera and a fun backdrop. For others, it’s an actual booth guests enter to have their picture taken in that can be partially or completely enclosed.
Match the style of your photo booth to your wedding.
Are you planning on a glamorous black-tie event for your big day, or will it be more of a laid-back beachy affair? Will your wedding reception be in an enormous hotel with plenty of space, or are you planning an outdoor post-ceremony celebration? Arline tells brides it’s essential to figure out the feel of your wedding before deciding on a photo booth to ensure the styles of both will mesh. If you’re planning an outdoor reception, make sure you check to see if electrical outlets will be available to make use of your photo booth.
Find out if your booth will be completely self-contained.
Arline explains that a fully-enclosed or self-contained photo booth is usually the best way to go when it comes to wedding receptions. With all the equipment that accompanies the booth, extra tables may be needed to be set up near the booth to place cords and other pieces of necessary equipment. A self-contained both that contains the camera and everything else gives a much neater appearance and will take up less space in your venue!
Check to see if your booth has any special features.
With Ace Photobooths, Arline tells us that a large screen is provided outside the booth so guests who are waiting in line can be entertained by seeing what’s going on inside the booth. You’ll want to check with your photographer to see if the photo booth provides any extra features such as this to make your photo booth experience even more spectacular!