Considering a photo booth at your reception? Check out these tips first!
Never underestimate what a Batman mask and some giant fluorescent sunglasses can do to improve a wedding reception, birthday party, or other event. Where bands and DJs fail to entertain, a photo booth, stocked with fun props, can provide literally hours of fun, and the resulting prints can double as take-home gifts and/or as a keepsake for the hosts.
Photo booths have come a long way since the boardwalk days of smushing as many of your friends as possible onto a tiny bench and hoping your eyes were open when the flash went off. You’d have to guess if your hair looked OK and wait, and wait, and wait for that tiny black-and-white strip of four pictures to spit out, and then fight with your friends over who got to take it home.
In the last several years, new versions of photo booths have become popular entertainment at wedding receptions and other parties. Many of them don’t even include “booths” anymore, and most come equipped with digital preview screens, and multiple full-color print-outs. Quite an improvement.
Expect guests to be intrigued when they first see your photo booth. One or two brave souls will walk over in the first 10 minutes, maybe ask a few questions. Perhaps they’ll even go for it and pick out one small prop to use for their first set of pictures. And that’s all it takes, really! Once those one or two people to break the ice, everyone else sees the unlimited fun possibilities, and gets in line.
Grandma picks up the giant golden Elvis-inspired glasses and throws her arm around Uncle Joe, who’s wearing a cowboy hat and boa, and boom! A priceless photo that your family will cherish for generations is born.
So, there’s no doubt that a photo booth is a great idea for your next party, but before you hire one, or (danger! danger!) take matters into your own hands and try a do-it-yourself booth, there are a few things to keep in mind (for you and your guests).
1) Don’t DIY.
Photo booths are one of several items that you should not attempt on your own, but rely on professionals to set up and operate. It seems so simple – you’ll just set up a camera on a tripod and a backdrop, hit the party store for a few props, and it’ll all take care of itself, right? Well, that’s not likely to work out too well for you. First of all, you’ll want guests to have prints to take home, so you’ll also have to set up a printer. And buy photo paper. And figure out how to get the camera to print to the printer. And… well, there’s just too many things to list here. Trust me. It’s more complicated than you think, and worth the money to hire a pro.
2) A booth operator is a definite must.
Before you hire that pro, make sure the company you choose offers a photo booth attendant. No matter how many written instructions are posted, no matter if the booth has one giant button with “Press here” posted in giant letters… lots of people will not be able to figure out how to use it. Truth! And then there’s the prop box. It looks so clean and orderly when the night begins, but after a few users, it’s impossible to find the fake mustaches piled under the alien mask, which is twisted and thrown under the table near the Hawaiian leis.
3) Keep it clean.
Booths-that-aren’t-booths are a great option, with respect to this tip. Even when you remind guests that everyone will be able to see their photos in an online gallery after the event, some people forget that and, ahem, go for the gusto. When the booth has a curtain or door that you can hide behind to take images, all bets are off. If you’re hoping to avoid seeing a topless pic of your bridesmaid, opt for a booth-less booth.
Words by Molly Fellin Spence
Photos provided by silly station by Spence Photographics (www.sillystation.com)