The Fool-Proof (and Fun) DIY Photo Booth

Hint: You don't even need a "real" camera

When Michael and I got married, it was at the very beginning of the DIY photo booth trend. I had a DSLR, and a tripod, so I figured what the heck. I could probably make a professional-looking photo booth, right? Except, our venue was dark, and it turns out we had the wrong tripod mount. So what we ended up with was a fancy backdrop that mostly hid boxes at our venue. C’est la vie. In hindsight, I realize now that what we were trying to do was rig a professional-looking photo booth without being… professionals. Which might have been our first mistake.

DIY Photo Booth Tutorial

So, in order to help you avoid my pitfalls, we asked veteran wedding photographer and general badass, Mark of LeahAndMark & Co. for his best tips on DIYing a wedding photo booth. At first I was surprised that his advice wasn’t chock full of fancy equipment and lighting equipment recommendations. But then it dawned on me: I was still thinking like it’s 2009. Technology has changed and digital cameras have improved so much that you don’t even need a “real camera,” as Mark calls it, to get awesome photos from your photo booth. And unless you know someone who owns and understands DSLRs and lighting equipment (or you have a burning desire to learn), trying to figure it out on your own is going to be more trouble than its worth, and renting or buying all that equipment can quickly get close to the cost of a professional photo booth. Plus, with this method, there’s no getting chased down by guests looking for photos that are sitting on a memory card while you’re on your honeymoon. So with that, here is Mark’s guide to an awesome, fool-proof DIY photo booth setup:

The Fool-Proof DIY Photo Booth

DIY photo booth tutorial

1. Make a backdrop. Your backdrop doesn’t have to be fancy. It definitely should not be complicated. Start with a blank solid color wall. White. Black. Blue—whatever. If you want a pattern—have a pattern. If you want a mountain landscape—do it. Make it 6 feet x 4 feet, and it will match the dimensions of most camera formats automatically (which are 3 x 2 horizontally). You can either affix the backdrop to a wall using gaffer’s tape, or you can just purchase affordable backdrop stands such as these.

DIY photo booth tutorial

2. Provide as much light as possible. Instead of fiddling with any kind of camera flash setup, just make sure your photo booth area is very, very, very well lit. I’m talking strangely, glowingly, bright. It can be in a well-lit separate room or just partitioned off—but make sure you provide lots and lots of light. If your reception is during the day, then this won’t be a problem at all. If you need to bring in lamps and plug them in—do it. (For an easy and decent lighting hack, you can use one of those cheap dorm lamps with any bulbs that say “daylight” on the package or have a color temperature of between 5000K and 6500K for a super bright light that mimics daylight. Both are available for cheap at most big box stores.) Oh and the lighting doesn’t have to be boring white light either. You can have colored light—just make sure the area is still very well lit.

DIY photo booth tutorial

3. Get some props. Props. Toys. Costumes. Whatever you think will make it more fun and interesting for your guests. The weirder, the better. Always. Except feather boas. NO FEATHER BOAS. Ever. (They’re just too messy.)

DIY photo booth tutorial

4. Make a hashtag for your wedding. I know. Maybe you don’t want to be those people with a hashtag for their wedding. But it’s okay! You’re only having the hashtag so that you can collect and find ALL of the photos that people took at your wedding. And they’ll probably post their photo booth pics on social media anyway—so you’ll want them to use your hashtag! (Because otherwise there is no way to get your own copy of these photo booth pics.)

DIY photo booth tutorial

5.  For printed photos, buy an Instax Share SP-1 photo printer. This printer enables anyone with a smartphone to print their photos right on the spot at your wedding reception. Sure you have to buy the instant film cartridges, but depending the number of your guests, you’ll spend considerably less than you would if you rented a professional photo booth. It’s a super simple process that the majority of your guests won’t have a problem completing. They just need to download the app onto their smartphones. Then, using the app they’ll take a selfie photo (or have another guest take the photo for them) and then upload it to be printed. Boom. Done. Photo booth! Of course, remember to purchase enough film and enough batteries for the printer. Oh and maybe task a person to periodically check up on the setup or post an instructional sign on how to change out the film. Still, all very easy and convenient.

DIY photo booth tutorial

6. Or buy any other Instant Film camera. For an even simpler, more lo-fi options, grab one of these cameras. And since you already setup a great backdrop and lots of light—the photo booth pics are guaranteed badass. Guests can either take photos selfie-style or have the person behind them in line take a quick photo. AND THEN IT PRINTS OUT (I mean develops!). Photo booth DONE!

No matter what camera you have, or how you decide to print or develop the photos, all you really need is a backdrop, and plenty of light. So there you go! Easy, done, fool-proof.

Did you have a DIY photo booth at your wedding? Share your tips and best practices in the comments!

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  • Lawyerette510

    Wish I would’ve known about the Instax Share printer a year ago, it would have been an awesome addition to our DIY photo booth. We used a friend’s DLSR and rented the sturdy tripod, remote shutter and a light set from a photography/ videography place in San Francisco. They were really helpful in talking through with us what we needed (such as the light set, which was only $20 additional cost) to make a photo booth. We used cheap black curtains from Ikea and gaffers tape to tape them up. The only real cost is our remote location and Monday wedding meant we had to do a 5 day rental, so the cost was about double than if we had been able to have a friend pick up the stuff on Saturday morning and then have someone return it on Monday. However, it was still significantly cheaper than a professional photo booth and they turned out great, examples below.

    Also we used the photo strip feature on Social Prints to print out and share them with people a few weeks later, which was a huge hit.

    • VKD_Vee


      • Lawyerette510

        Thanks! Also, I’ve been missing happy hour, so missed any updates on if you’ve moved, how that’s going, how you’re doing etc, but I hope you’re very well!

        • VKD_Vee

          thanks, petal! we’re still here in vancouver, but massively preparing for the big move east at the start of september. husband is in the process of selling his business, i’ve given my notice at work… some days i’m super excited and other days… well, there has been crying!! i’m hoping by some miracle to find and befriend an APW commenter from Thunder Bay, Ontario before we the road! ;-)

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    • Kama

      Do you mind me asking which photography store you used in San Francisco? My sister is getting married in the bay area and I’m looking into a DIY photo booth for her.

      • Lawyerette510

        We used Adoph Gasser, mainly because their location worked for the friends who were picking up the equipment for us. They were really nice and are the ones who suggested the lights to help with the quality and the lights were a huge addition to the quality of the photos.

      • Lawyerette510

        Another tip, I wish we would’ve written out instructions and done more encouraging of some of the guests to use it. Because it was out of the way from the main space some people missed it.

  • Grace from England

    The weddingparty app has a very cool photo booth feature!

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  • Chelsea

    We found a wedding themed SMASH book at Michael’s on clearance (score!), purchased a Fujifilm Instax, lots of film, and washi tape. We had our guests take selfies and tape them in the book with a little note. My uncle and cousins went around taking pictures too!

  • Thank you for posting such a great article.

  • Still very tempted to set something like this up at my wedding. Also tempted to just post a sign with a hashtag and let people go at it themselves, since everyone seems to have a smartphone these days. IFTTT has a recipe where it will automatically save photos with your chosen hashtag to Dropbox (or google drive, or wherever)

    • Lawyerette510

      I’m so glad we had a “photobooth” at our wedding. Some of my favorite pictures are from it. Also, it’s nice to have all of the pics, instead of counting on your reveling friends to share and post pics (I was actually really surprised/ disappointed at how few photos my friends posted).

    • Sebastian Champagne

      Hi there! What’s IFTTT? Thank you!! And thanks for all of these amazing suggestions!

      • Short for “if this then that” –
        It’s a site where you can link apps you use with other apps to create interesting & useful automated actions.

  • KPM

    I love that this set up kind of gives you multiple backgrounds. We ended up renting one through our DJ as it was very inexpensive with him. I’m really looking forward to seeing all of them!

  • Cool idea! This will not just lessen the wedding budget but it can also have a personal touch if you’ll be the one to do it. White backdrop is nice but if it will be my wedding, I’ll make it big yellow roses with our big pre wedding picture on the side. Just make sure to pick a wedding venue in Hong Kong that will allow you to set up a backdrop for photobooth. One Heart Wedding planning service can help you with this.

  • What a great way to capture memories from your wedding day. The backdrop in your pictures is absolutely stunning by the way! I would’ve loved a DIY photo booth at my wedding!
    Visiting from

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  • xaphod

    Got an iPad? Check out WiFi Booth at It can connect to your DSLR’s wifi and is designed for large events like weddings. It prints albums, uploads to dropbox, tweets, lets guests enter email addresses, and can even be remote-controlled by an iPhone, iPod or Apple Watch. Guests get their photos immediately and so do you, because they’re on your iPad.

    This is how you get pro quality with only DIY materials.

  • Mr1978

    A great app that allows for easy DIY photo booth setup and remote starting and has a remote slide show mode is PG Booth… check it out :)

    apps store:

  • MrPGBooth

    Hey All! I am the person that made PG Booth, the iPad photo booth & iPhone Photo booth. Wanted to join in the chat and say I have been working a ton on it. The UI has been updated and I have added TONS of features! I have tried my best to make the most affordable and customizable photo booth app for weddings or any other get together. Check it out and let me know if you have any questions…

    a couple examples of the many layouts and photo count options:

  • Sham

    what store do you recommend for good backdrops?

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  • Rich Ward

    Hire a photo booth company and get it done right. Anymore they are very inexpensive 400-500 dollars and you have professional quality, they handle everything and you have zero concerns / headaches. Enjoy your special day leave the details to others.

  • couturefamily

    Hi love all of it! I especially love the paper flowers…do you have a DIY link on how to make the backdrop?
    Rach from NH

  • Greg

    The link in #1 brings you directly to amazon’s home page.

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  • DIY wedding photo booths just keep growing in popularity! I would definitely setting up an iPad app as a kiosk to handle the flow and also create digital copies of your photos. You can find more info about how that works at