DIY Photobooth (Lessons Learned)

Last year I got married and I built a portable photobooth for my wedding.It was a hit and it had all sorts of fun features. It talked, printed it, and we had a lot of fun. I learned a lot of lessons after doing it. Hopefully some of my lessons will help anyone considering to building their own photobooth.

Building versus renting

Just rent it. While building a photobooth sounds like it will save money, renting saves a lot of time. Second it’s a proven system used hundreds of times. Most DIY photobooths that can print run $500 or so, rentals should be in the $600-$1000 range. Sometimes video and photographers will be able to bundle one in even cheaper. If you’re like me and this still doesn’t scare you. Kudos. I built mine and it was a great experience.

Webcam or Digital SLR

Webcam is the easiest but the resolution will not be very high and you will need a constant light source like a lamp because it doesn’t have a flash. If you plan to print photo booth strips it will be enough.

Digital cameras offer great optics and flashes. The big catch is that most cameras do not have a intuitive way to send the pictures to the camera. This is definitely the best for photo quality but very hard to integrate.

I wrote my own custom software so I chose a webcam.

Size

Photo booths take up space. A lot of it. Make sure to call ahead and ensure you venue has enough room for yours. A sit down booth will accommodate a two people and take up little space. A open booth will make for better group shots, but take up 8’x8′ on average. In my honest opinion the open booths are better because people always try to do group or reunion shots at weddings. Also keep in mind the day of your wedding you will be wearing a suit. If its a summer wedding it will be really tough to move a big booth without sweating.

To Print or Share?

Printing is a huge plus for a booth. DIY Photo booths have a lot of issues with printing because the desktop printers run out of ink, paper and jam. Serious photo printers will start at around $500. Recently I’ve noticed a lot of booths do not print because of this issues. For a wedding this can actually work out. Some people are a disappointed, but most guest realize it’s for the album and the photos get uploaded to Facebook the night of. Not printing will have the lowest failure rate.

Props

Props are the best thing you can do. They make the booth feel more warm and fuzzy. I recommend lots of hats, over sized glasses and mustaches. I do not recommend; beads, too many tassles or stringy things that will get tangled. You can even add a theme like pirates or ninjas. People really let loose the second they see a photobooth with great props.

Power

Venues don’t have outlets everywhere. Also extension cords are ugly. The biggest limitation for your booth will be where you can plug it in. Plan ahead. The DJ’s will usually already chose the most convenient location with an outlet.

Talking Booths

Mute them. The last thing you want is a booth to start making sounds when your family and friends are making speeches. Mine spoke during the speeches and it was hilarious. If it wasn’t my own voice I don’t think it would have been as funny. It did stop the best man’s speech so I felt bad about that.

Multilingual

My wedding was hispanic, english, and chinese. A lot of people had issues understanding what a start button was and where to look for the picture. The signs were in English and I forgot some family and kids don’t read. A lot of funny confused pictures were taken because of it.

Speed

Even though photobooth venders will say unlimited prints, there is a human limit. The time it takes to get in and out and setup between pictures. A lot of photobooths that do multiple shots are too fast and kinda pushy. A lot of times you will see 3 distinct poses and a 4th repeat pose. If you have an option, chose a slower setting so you friends had enough time to think up that 4th pose.

Friends and Family

At the end of the day the only thing that makes a photobooth successful is your family and friends having fun using it. The line needs to be short, the gallery need to be public and the booth has to be kid friendly.

-The ten thousand effects are great, but it will take forever selecting the ‘right’ effect. People will scroll through all 100 before selecting. This takes forever. Usually the props will add enough diversity in photos. Plus people can select the props before they enter the booth. Just setup a nice bin outside of the booth.

-The photos that are taken must be stored digitally for you to upload or print extras.

-The booth must be easy enough for a kid to use. Kids love photo booths.

Summary

Well I hope these lessons learned will help you with your photo booth. Mine was a hit and I enjoyed building and writing about my experience. At the end of the day you will look at all these photos and love them. Your family will too.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.