May 19, 2021
Back when it was invented in 1925, the photo booth was so successful that 280,000 customers flocked to the first booth in New York City’s Times Square in the first six months. Due to its immense popularity, photo booths soon became a commonplace sight at game arcades, five-and-dimes, amusement parks, state fairs, and bus depots. If you ever crowded into one of these compact booths with friends, a loved one, or kids, you know how much fun they provide. There is something magical about hiding behind the curtain and capturing silly expressions, quick kisses, or goofy antics and waiting for the strip of photos to come out of a slot. Although most of these booths have vanished from the American landscape, you can recapture the nostalgic magic by setting up a home photo booth.
A DIY photo booth setup isn’t literally a self-standing cabinet with a curtain, however, you can still recreate the fun the original ones provide. Wedding photo booths are trendy, so it’s easy to find any number of articles discussing how to set one up at receptions. Weddings aside, the sky’s the limit as far as photo booth ideas and themes. While you need to consider the type of event, age of your guests, and location to guide the theme, backdrop, and props, most of the equipment applies to any DIY photo booth.
A basic digital point-and-shoot camera is ideal for a DIY photo booth. A tripod is essential for taking focused shots, especially in lower-light situations. If you want to mirror a true photo booth experience, a remote shutter release allows guests to take their own photos. If you don’t have a digital camera, a high-quality smartphone will suffice, but you’ll need a special bracket to attach it to a tripod. You’ll also need to purchase a Bluetooth camera remote shutter for smartphones to provide guests with the ability to take their own pictures. Regardless of the setup, it’s important to test the method repeatedly to avoid photo booth meltdown on the day of the special event.
If you’re looking for simplicity, a roll of non-reflective seamless paper tacked to the wall works well. Streamers, balloons, fabric, and paper décor are fairly inexpensive ways to add pizzazz to your background. If the event is outside, you can add a string of lights to foliage, drape fabric, or hang colorful paper lanterns from nearby tree branches.
Thrift stores are a good source for unique vintage props – look for cameras, globes, suitcases, musical instruments, telescopes, large animal figurines, pottery, or anything else large and bold enough to stand out in a photograph.
Although your guests won’t get a nifty little photo strip, you can create a digital photo album and upload it to the cloud, then share the link. You can also email a photo individually to each guest, or print it and send it with a thank you note as a special keepsake.
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