Guest Blogger: Setting Up Your Own Photobooth by The Modern Tog

This week, please welcome Jamie Swanson from The Modern Tog!

Photobooths are becoming increasingly popular at weddings, birthday parties, family reunions and corporate events. With very little extra equipment costs, they can be a great addition to the services you offer your clients.

When we put together our photobooth kit, we wanted it to be easy to haul around and simple to construct since we primarily shoot weddings. It also had to be relatively small to fit inside our car.

Here’s what we use:

Photoflex Backdrop Stand- We picked this backdrop stand because it has a telescoping crossbar and a carrying bag that makes it easy to transport.

King-sized Fleece Blanket – This is what we use for a backdrop. Fleece is awesome because it doesn’t show wrinkles, and it’s way cheaper than buying a formal portrait backdrop.

Hand Clamps – We use these to attach the blanket to the backdrop stand. We pull it tight and clamp it to the stand. I’d suggest using seven. Put three across the top and two on each side.

Alienbee B800 – We use this as the main light source for our photobooth and connect it to our camera using the cord that comes with it, but you could also use a flash such as the Nikon SB-900 or the Canon 580EX II if you already have one.

60″ Photoflex Convertible Umbrella – We use one umbrella pointed directly at the subject that is positioned slightly above our heads. We do this instead of putting it off to the side in order to avoid people shadowing each other in the group shots. Sometimes the booth gets pretty full of people. We use a 60″ umbrella because that’s what we happened to have, but a 45″ umbrella would probably be sufficient.

We also bring a lot of fun props such as hats, feather boas, empty picture frames, headbands, over-sized sunglasses, and mustaches on a stick. We carry these (along with our fleece blanket and clamps) in a large plastic tote.

Tips for running a photobooth
Running the photobooth can be a TON of fun, but there’s a few things you should keep in mind when you do one.

1. Put your background stand against a wall. There’s been a few times when the guests got a little bit rowdy in the booth and leaned back into the stand. Without a wall behind it, it will go right over.

2. Put some gaffers tape down on the floor and tell people to stay within the box if they want to be in the photo. This helps keep you from photographing outside of the backdrop. I didn’t do this the first few times we did a photobooth and ended up having to clone out some parts of the background because people were too close to the edge.

3. Shoot in manual mode. This makes editing the photos a breeze because you can edit the first one and sync the rest because all the settings are the same. It saves SO much time.

4. Don’t be afraid to decorate your backdrop. Use streamers, banners, or other things that you can hang from the stand to give the photobooth a different feel. You may even find some fun shower curtains that could be used.

5. Post the photos to Facebook with a note telling people to “like” your business page to tag themselves in your images. This is an incredible way to market your business, as people LOVE using these as their profile photos. It also gives them the opportunity to download a copy for free. While some people may not want to offer this, we charge enough up front to compensate for the loss of sales and add a small website address to the bottom of the photo so that people know where to find us.

Jamie Swanson is a Wedding Photographer in Madison, WI and writes a blog with awesome business tips for photographers called The Modern Tog. She loves mathematics and created a Free Photographer’s Pricing Guide to help you determine prices for both weddings and portraits combined in one business. Click over and check it out.

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