How To Create Your Own Photo Booth

photo booth  5How to make your own photo booth.  Yeah, we’re doing that.  Do you know how much it cost to rent a photo booth?  Like 500 bucks!  We don’t have that kind of money.  Do you know how annoying it is to walk around at your party all night trying to snap pictures of your friends while replacing their empty beers with fresh ones and refilling the spinach dip?  We don’t have that kind of time.

I just [miraculously] shoved 75 people into my apartment for a Christmas party, do you really think I had a free moment to take pictures of them all too?  Heck no!  And neither do you.  So that’s why we’re going to build our own photo booth.  What do ya say?  Let’s make some memories!

Here’s what we need:

  • A space removed from the main party area with a big blank wall.  Opposite that wall should be another wall where a camera can be mounted, or space for a sturdy tripod.
  • A simple to use camera.  I just stick with my point and shoot.  If you are serving alcohol or inviting kids to your party [because drunk adults are basically the same thing as children] I do not recommend using your fancy DSLR camera or even a point and shoot that you are particularly attached to.  Let’s face it, accidents happen.
  • A tripod or small shelving unit to mount the camera.
  • A prop box.  I fill mine with loot from the dollar store and junk that I have laying around the apartment.  It probably cost $20 total to fill our entire box, and many of the props can be used from year to year.
  • A scene setter or other appropriate back drop

photo booth 39

Let’s see how easy this is:

  1. Identify a contained space with a large blank wall to designate as the photo booth.  I use a small 10ft x 5ft hallway where I keep my washer/dryer.collage1
  2. If you plan to use a tripod, set it up opposite the blank wall.  Mount your camera and take a few test photos with NO ZOOM.  Ask a friend to stand in front of the blank wall to help you adjust the tripod to the correct height.  Be sure to give plenty of headroom in the photos for taller guests.  In my photo booth, I don’t have space for a tripod.  Instead, I mount a small shelf (I picked it up for a few bucks at the hardware store).  Just like with the tripod, mount the shelf at a height that will capture guests of all heights without needing a zoom.collage2
  3. Once the camera is mounted, hang the scene setter on the blank wall.  Take a few test shots on the camera to make sure that the backdrop fills the entire [or at least most of it] viewfinder of the camera.  Be sure to select a scene setter that is at least 5 feet tall, or it will be dwarfed next to your guests.collage3
  4. Hang an instruction poster explaining both how to use the photo booth and how to set the self timer on the camera.  Ideally, use a camera that has a permanent self timer setting.  Unfortunately my self timer has to be re-set each time, but it still works!collage4
  5. Place a prop bucket out of view of the camera.  Fill it with odds and ends from the dollar store including funny hats/headbands, sunglasses, feather boa’s, mustaches, and necklaces.  The possibilities are endless and can be themed to your specific party.collage5

It’s time to use the photo booth!

First and foremost, make sure your camera battery is well charged before the party and that your SD card is clear.  [Both rookie mistakes that I’ve made]  Prior to guests arriving, take a couple of practice shots in the photo booth to make sure that the lighting and focus are exactly what you want.

Once the party starts, I typically have two rules for the photo booth:

  1. All guests must take at least one photo in the booth before the end of the night.
  2. No peaking at the pictures until the party ends. [as the hostess, I typically check a couple times  during the night, just to make sure its working ok, but no peaking for guests!]

photo booth 22

I just run a quick autofix on the photos to adjust the lighting, and crop out any stragglers that may accidentally be popping into the photo.  Otherwise, these photos are untouched, and a great example of the fun that YOU can have in your own home photo booth!  If you have any specific questions, leave them in the comment portion of the post!

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