After Intern Lauren mentioned how much she wanted a photobooth at her wedding, and how out-of-reach that seemed to her cash-strapped self, I thought it made sense to lead off our How-To Series with a post on DIY Wedding Photobooths. The excellent Emily (pictured at left, how cute is her dresssss?) sent this in. The post is so Team-Practical-spirited that it cracks me up. At the end of writing her wedding photobooth tutorial, Emily says basically, “Hey, we forgot to charge our camera, so the pictures didn’t really turn out so well… but here is the How-To anyway. And um, charge your camera.” The girl is so un-shaken by her photobooth going a little wrong, that she’s willing to write you a How-To post about it. And I LOVE that. L-O-V-E. So, this tutorial ended up being a bit of a collaboration between Emily (who provided the words), and Cara (who’s amazing photobooth you’ll remember from The Wedding In 73 Seconds movie, one of my favorite things I’ve ever ever run on APW), who provided the pictures. And um, may I suggest that if you take this project on, you DELEGATE it to someone else altogether on your wedding day? Yes. Do that. So without further ado, the DIY Wedding photobooth.
PhotoBooths were one of the blog-chic wedding features that I absolutely fell in love with. I love photographs and had grand plans of making a photobooth station in which guests would sign a card, take their own picture, and then I would later assemble a gorgeous scrap-guestbook with all the photos. This later got downsized to just having the photobooth and I set my budget for this project at $50.
Here’s what I decided and what worked for me:
1. Use a DSLR. I’m a bit of a photo snob and felt I needed to honor that aspect of my personality. Luckily, I have a friend who owns an old DSLR that she rarely uses so I didn’t feel bad about borrowing it. If you don’t have such a friend and don’t have your own camera to use (you likely won’t use it that weekend anyway), a regular digital or film camera would work fine.
2. There must be a remote shutter device. I think it’s important that people can sneak over to the booth and take their own pictures. This is especially important for kids who might get embarrassed making silly faces at the camera in front of their moms or strangers. The remote allows for surprising pictures.
3. The tripod setup must be sturdy. You don’t want anybody knocking over the camera after a few glasses of wine.
4. A viewing station where guests could click through previous photos did not work. The viewing station is an amazing feature, but was too expensive or didn’t work with my DSLR requirement (Party Booth software).
My solution was a combination of borrowing from friends and using the expertise of a photography store. In Baltimore, that place is Service Photo and their help was invaluable. If you don’t have a photo store in your town, call these guys and I’m sure they can help. They have catalogs that detail which accessories work with which cameras and they can also recommend off-brand accessories that are just as good. Service Photo rented me a big sturdy tripod for the entire (3 day holiday) weekend for $17. Renting a Compact Flash card for the quirky ancient DSLR was $5. They also sold me a 6 foot long remote shutter for about $15. Studio lights were $70 so I nixed that and figured guests would just have to stand still!
Here’s how it worked:
My brother and one of my bridesmaids (the owner of the camera) set up the “booth” in about 5 minutes.
1. We hung a piece of fabric over a door at the hall and that was the backdrop. We are not mustache people, so we didn’t have any cute props, but obviously those could be added. Felt or construction paper and a few wooden dowels or bbq skewers would probably work nicely.
2. The photobooth was set up in a corner. This was to minimize the impact on the rest of the room (surprising pictures must be somewhat secluded, after all) and also to minimize the likelihood that somebody would bump over the tripod or walk off with the remote still in hand.
3. A test shot or two was necessary.
4. I jumped into a couple of shots to get the party started. As soon as we took a few, everyone wanted in.
5. Unfortunately, I failed to charge batteries for the camera (ha!), so we only had about 2 minutes of the proper photo booth. My brother took over and shot some family poses with his camera that turned out to be awesome. But seriously, charge the batteries, yes? CHARGE THEM. The end.
Intro photo by Gabriel Harber.