Photobooth fun

Last year, one of my BFFLs — best friends for life — began planning her wedding. Fellow gadget girl, Ness and I, were the bridesmaids and there began "The Committee" of bride and bridesmaids, as we were referred to, meeting regularly to discuss venues, music, outfits and entertainment. Ness proposed that we should have a photobooth, but given the cost of renting a commercial one, she thought that it was worth setting up one of our own. Over the year, we did just that, setting up booths at events, refining the setup for the big day.

Ness is the photography buff between us and wanted to use an SLR for a better result than we could get out of a tablet or PC webcam. She volunteered her equipment, complete with external flash attachment, hooked up to her Acer ultrabook and controlled through DSLRBooth. She even used a wireless SD card to automatically transfer photos to her iPad so people could look at the pics throughout the evening. We chose not to worry about print-outs, although there are instructions on the web if you'd like to go that far.
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There are many how-to articles if you do a google, so I'm not going to do that over. What I wanted to discuss was more around the environmental aspects of making this a success.
  1. Create a dedicated space: by the time you have the tripod(s), the masks and hats, a nice backdrop, the camera and controlling computer that's a lot of paraphernalia. We learnt early on that having a walled area to create the booth hides a lot of mess and also releases the participants to really get into the fun out of sight of non-participants. 
  2. Lighting is important: even if you have a flash, reasonable lighting is helpful so the quality of the pics is good and you won't need to do a lot of processing after. 
  3. Have signage: tell people where to look or they have a habit of looking at the laptop screen instead of the camera. 
Over time we've improved it. The wedding booth photos were great and everyone had a lot of fun but Ness has continued to set up booths at parties and now it's looking pretty slick. But for a one-off, family event, you don't have to get as fancy as we have to get a lot of fun and some pretty awesome mementos.

Some of the additional kit we've added include three backdrop stands, of the kind used by photographers, that you can purchase for around $50NZD each from online stores on TradeMe and eBay. Although it's fun to use colourful backdrops, if lighting is poor, try using a lighter background: recently we resorted to an off-white blind. Ness has also added a foot-pedal trigger purchased from DealExtreme. USB Foot Switch Keyboard Mouse Control Foot Pedal
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