A photo booth makes a great addition to practically any kind of social gathering. Not only does it serve as a way to keep guests entertained, but it also makes the celebration fun and extra memorable, especially when guests get to bring their photos home or find them online for social media sharing.
There are going to be plenty of holiday parties in the next few weeks, and photo booths are sure to be a big hit at any party
Your smart phone will work perfectly fine for photo booths, but investing in a more professional DSLR or mirrorless camera with manual settings can be the more convenient choice if you plan on saving your images for large prints or if you will be using remote-controlled lighting and/or shutter.
Find a sturdy yet affordable tripod that can support your camera throughout the entire party and can be extended high enough for eye-level and overhead shots. This way, nobody has to hold the camera and shoot for every shot by hand, and you can enjoy the party even when you’re manning the booth yourself.
Adding a remote shutter to your camera setup opens up the possibility of allowing your guests to take timed photos on their own. At the same time, you can be included in photos instead of playing photographer the whole time, plus you won’t risk any internal camera shake or image blurring caused by pressing the shutter button.
Some people do just fine without any external light sources, but your guests will thank you for the flattering lighting that a remote flash or spotlight can provide for your photo booth snaps. The usual option is an external flash that is supported by a light stand and can be triggered by your camera’s shutter. It’s also worth investing in a lighting umbrella for your flash to create a softer, more diffused light that will give your guests an attractive glow.
Props are crucial in making your guests’ photo booth experience fun and interesting. One of the first places you can look for props is your closet. Chances are, there are fun and fancy stuff there that you can use, like a feather boa or a cape from that costume party you once attended.
You can also ask permission to borrow from other people and look inside their closets for other interesting props. List down other props that you want to add and look for them in vintage shops and thrift stores to save a few bucks. Don’t forget to choose the ones that fit your holiday theme!
The size and accessibility of the photo booth site will dictate some factors in your overall setup. For instance, if the spot is too small to allow for lighting equipment such as umbrellas or softboxes, perhaps you’re better off using a small ring light. This is why you need to make sure to choose the best spot for your photo booth before going out and purchasing any items.
Make sure your chosen space is clutter-free. Ideally, the photo booth should be set up against a wall in a wide hallway or any spot where it wouldn’t be in the way of guests and the action. You can set it up near the entrance—sort of like a red carpet section—so that the guests won’t miss it.
The space should include the photo area for your guests and for all your other gear. The backdrop should be at least 5 feet across and 3-4 feet tall for waist up shots of up to 5 people, so consider the extra space that you’ll need for your operations—a chair, camera and tripod, light stand, laptop (if needed), and table or containers for your props.
Create a checklist (using the essential equipment list provided above as your guide) of all the electronic equipment, backdrops, lighting, props, and other items you will need for the photo booth. Gather everything on that list before the party to make sure you’re not missing anything. If you aren’t hosting the party, make sure to double (or even triple) check all the necessary items you need before heading off to the venue.
If using a printer, ensure that it has more than enough ink for at least a hundred colored prints. Do test prints and make sure your images are of good color and that they fit your digital frame and photo paper perfectly.
Photo booth softwares usually have a few pre-designed templates for you to choose from, but you can also design your own using that same software, or perhaps with Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, or any similar tool—just make sure to use the correct dimensions for printing.
There are a handful of photo booth apps and programs that you can purchase and download, should you choose to set up a more advanced and professional booth. These apps usually allow you to create and upload your own appropriately-sized photo border layout so you can spice up the look of your prints, aside from automatically creating a collage of 2-4 photos in each print.
Alternatively, you can order customized cardboard frames. Depending on the design and cut, you can stick your photo on it or slide your photo in. They may even have a foldable stand behind the card so that it can serve as a makeshift picture frame for your guests to display at home.
Hours before the party, take measurements of your wall space and make sure backdrop corresponds with that measurement. You can mark the surface with masking tape so that you will have a guide once you install your backdrop.
Make sure to move or remove any furniture or miscellaneous items that are in the area, and cover any windows with dark cloth so that light from the outside won’t interfere with your lighting during operations.
Attach your camera to the tripod and position it at your desired eye-level distance and angle. Connect it to your flash, remote shutter, printer, monitor, and/or computer. Do a couple of test shots with you or somebody else in front to make sure that the camera setup is working correctly, that the lighting exposure is good enough for solos and group shots, and that your backdrop covers the entire frame.
If you don’t have a monitor, use some tape to mark the floor area where your guests should stand during shoots. And finally, clean up your workspace, prepare your photo papers and frames (if any), display your props where they will be easily accessible to your guests (from the side or on the floor in front of them while standing in front of the camera), and hang up decorative signs to label your booth and provide instructions for your guests.
Sparklers are widely available during end-of-year holidays. And obviously, they look awesome in pictures! Why not try adding them as optional props for your photo booth? Of course, these would probably be more fitting for outdoor photo booths where you have an open space for smoke. Make sure you also use a faster shutter speed to capture those sparkle details.
And of course, safety first!
To add to your collection of cool props, make sure you add holiday-themed items. Some staples are wearable Santa hats and beards, reindeer headbands, elf ears, mistletoe, and other green and red-colored accessories. You can also add a few New Year-themed props, including glittery hats, “2019” glasses, cone party hats, and horns.