If you’re planning a wedding or hosting a party this holiday season, you have probably been brainstorming creative and unique ways to entertain your guests. Aside from enticing them with the energy of the dance floor and a spread of delicious food, you will want your friends and family to be excited, active and be able to take a memory of the night home with them.
Need an idea of how to get the party started? Let’s talk about creating your own DIY Photo Booth.
It’s no secret that parties are the perfect time for a photo opportunity. You’re dressed to the nines, ready to let loose and have fun with the people around you. While many of your attendees will be pulling out their phones to snap a selfie, group photo or take a picture of the aesthetically pleasing decor – this kind of memory making doesn’t necessarily bring your guests together.
A photo booth is a great way to have an activity that lasts for the entirety of your party and gives everyone a physical memory of the truly awesome event you hosted.
While some party planners may opt for hiring a photo booth operator, setting up and creating your own DIY photo booth can be fairly easy. Here are our steps to designing your own DIY photo booth.
Find the Best Location at the Party
Setting up your photo booth will require picking the best spot within your party layout. You should want your photo booth to be in a place that is openly visible to your guests, but doesn’t detract from the main focus of the event.
Choose an area at the party that has enough space for the actual set design, your photography equipment and plenty of distance in between for your guests to gather and pose. If you’re hosting a photo booth at a house party, try to avoid setting it up in a different room from the main socializing area. The booth will be too secluded and your guests may even forget that it is there.
As for weddings, place your photo booth in an area that is properly distanced from the dance floor and musical entertainment. You will want to create enough separation, so that people can enjoy taking their pictures without distracting or detracting from the other events of the night.
Choose Your Photography Equipment
Choosing your photography equipment may be the most important decision when creating your DIY photo booth. Because a professional photo booth company will have a specific system they use for their events, you will need to decide which way is the best for you to capture the memories of your party.
You have two options of photography formats when hosting a photo booth.
- Digital Photographs with a Photo Printer
- Instant Prints such as using a Polaroid camera
In both scenarios, you will need to have someone who is running your photography booth for you. This can be a photographer you hire for the event or even several different guests at the party who will help you run the booth. If you have full trust in your guests, you could even set up the camera to work on a self timer. For this option, photograph at your own risk.
If you choose to use a digital camera for your DIY photo booth, you want to use a wider lens such as a 24mm or 35mm to capture several people in the frame and have enough distance between your backdrop and where you set up your equipment.
To print your digital photographs on the spot, you will need to set up a connection from your camera to your computer and printer. To do this, you can purchase a simple tethering cord which will allow your images to directly load onto the computer as you capture them on your camera.
You can then grab the images from your computer and send them to the printer to be created on whichever sized photo paper you prefer. If you have these digital items already, then your main cost will be purchasing the ink and printing paper.
Additionally, you can always defer the cost of printing by offering your guests a digital copy of their image. This can be done by either sending the images as batch to the group after the party, having each guest enter their information into a system of emails where you can attach their image or even using a Wi-Fi enabled camera to directly send the photographs to their phones.
If a digital setup seems like an expensive option, you can also set up your photo booth by using a Polaroid camera. There are several affordable camera options that would be perfect for a photo booth including:
The Instax Wide
The Instax Mini
Each of these Polaroid cameras take film that is readily available and easy to purchase through platforms such as Amazon or your local electronic superstore such as Best Buy.
The only downside to a photo booth with Polaroid cameras is the cost of film. Each polaroid picture is about $1, so make sure to take this into consideration before buying several cartons of film. This type of set up can be great for small parties, but for a large wedding event you would be better off using the digital photo booth.
Set Up Lighting
In order to capture bright and well lit images, you will need to set up your lighting sources. If you can set up your photo booth in an area with plenty of light, overhead fixtures may suffice. Yet, if you feel that your location could be more illuminated – you can simply add more lighting sources to brighten up your the area of your photo booth.
To keep it simple, consider finding lamps you may already have, referencing donation stores with furniture or even purchasing a few cheap options to use for your party. A standing lamp is a perfect way to adjust the light source and direct it towards the faces of your guests. Do not worry too much about the color of the lighting as you can change your white balance in digital shooting and with Polaroids the color of the film will overcompensate for the fluorescent bulbs.
For your DIY photo booth, do not worry about renting expensive lighting equipment or purchasing anything too intricate. The whole purpose of a DIY project is to use the most of what you have and to keep the idea light and easy. Your photo booth images are meant to act as entertainment for your guests, so don’t worry if it doesn’t exactly replicate a professional photography production.
Search for a Backdrop
After you have decided how you will be capturing your photo booth images, it is time to design your set and backdrop. The set can be as unique and creative as you would like. You can choose to keep the backdrop simple such as a neutral colored cloth or design your own artistic background.
To find a backdrop for your photo booth, you should reference local thrift and donation shops in your city. A great example of a store that always has an abundance of fabric and material is Goodwill. Pull fabrics, textures and patterns that you find appealing – considering that the price of material at second hand shops is very affordable, you could even purchase a few to give your guests the option of choosing their background.
To be safe, you will want a backdrop that stands at least 6 feet high and 6 feet wide. The backdrop simply needs to be large enough to fill the frame and allow your guests to stand comfortably in front of it. You can make the backdrop any size you want, but the 6 by 6 ratio is the best place to begin for a group of 3 to 4 people. If you want to fit an even larger group, consider a backdrop of 10-12 feet wide.
Once you have sourced sustainable materials from the thrift shop, you will need to determine the best way to hang the backdrop at your party. While this all depends on where you set up your photo booth, you can hang a backdrop easily against a solid wall using tacks, a clothes line with safety pins or even purchasing a cheap background stand where you can clip the fabric into place.
Bring a simple backdrop to life by painting it or hand drawing elements that match the theme of your party. If you are throwing a wedding, you could write the name of the couple or a specific catch phrase from the event. If you are hosting a holiday party, create a backdrop with seasonal elements such as a bright red or green display for Christmas or sparkles for the New Year.
Add Props and Decoration
The final ingredient you need for your DIY photo booth are the props and decorations. Having a large selection of props and costumes for your guests to choose from will encourage them to dress up and embrace the party spirit.
You can always use personal items or find affordable and creative items from stores such as Flying Tiger, Target or your local holiday shop. For a photo booth, props such as glasses, hats, jackets, vests and facial disguises such as mustaches are always a popular option. As mentioned, you should also consider sourcing props and decorations that align with your event.
For example, at a wedding you can create little signs with the bride and groom’s name and the date of their marriage. If the couple met in a specific place or went to college together, you can also focus the props around elements that define their relationship.
If you are hosting a themed or holiday party, your props can match the purpose of the gathering. For Christmas, you can use Rudolph glasses or hats with mistletoe. For the New Year, you can buy champagne glasses, streamers and small horns to build up the excitement for the countdown.
In addition to props, don’t be afraid to add more decorations to your photo booth set. You will want your guests to feel the party spirit and what better way to emphasize this than through twinkle lights, confetti and anything that screams holiday cheer.
From choosing your photography equipment, sourcing fabrics for your backdrop and adding creative props and decorations, creating your own DIY photo booth is simple and easy for any party or wedding. Having a photo booth at any event is a definite way to bring your guests together and create physical memories that are sure to capture the moment.