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How To Make A DIY Photo Booth For Your Wedding Or Event

If you are looking to include a photo booth at your next wedding, party or event then you have two options; pay for a professional photo booth company to come and manage the service for you, or create a DIY photo booth yourself. With over two decades of experience as a professional photographer, I’ve had the pleasure of setting up photo booths for various occasions. This article will guide you through the process of creating a fantastic DIY photo booth that will deliver professional quality photographs. I’ll share valuable insights and practical tips to help you create a photo booth that will entertain your guests and capture unforgettable moments at your special gathering.

DIY Photobooth

Choose Your Photobooth Theme & Background

One of the most enjoyable aspects of creating a DIY photo booth is coming up with the theme and aesthetics to best match your event. This is your opportunity to get creative, let your imagination run wild and create something that is going to allow your guests to capture some amazing memories.

Choosing the right background can significantly enhance the theme and overall ambiance of your event, especially if you can tie the photo booth theme in with the theme of the event. This might be something as simple as having a matching colour scheme to something a little more grand in scale like an entire flower wall, vintage campervan or festival tipi.

Think about things like the logistics of how you are going to get the background you are creating to your venue. There is no point creating something large and complex if it doesn’t break down for travel and you have no way of transporting it to the venue.

Also keep in mind that costs can easily start to rack up quite quickly if you need to buy hundreds of artificial flowers for a flower wall, or kit out a vintage campervan with relevant props so set yourself a budget and stick within what you can afford.

Here are some backdrop ideas to consider:

Plain Colour Background
For a classic and timeless look, use a photographers roll of backdrop paper in a colour to match your event. This can either be mounted on a backdrop stand or cut the paper off to the right height and use masking tape to stick it up on the wall. Alternatively, a piece of fabric pulled tight can create an effective solid coloured backdrop too, though you may spend a fair bit of time ironing or steaming our the creases and folds with fabric.

Flower Walls & Greenery Backdrop
A popular backdrop idea for weddings and parties is to create a wall of flowers or leaves and greenery. We created ours using a roll of artificial grass which we mounted to a photographers backdrop stand. The beauty of this is that artificial grass is super sturdy which meant it didn’t break easily when drunken guests knocked into it. It also has hundreds of holes already cut into the grass for drainage purposes so mounting our flowers was as simple as pushing the stems of the flowers through the existing holes and leaving the flower heads showing on the front.

Balloon Walls
In a similar manner to the flower walls you can create a wall of balloons which creates a very impactful looking backdrop. Use ballons of different sizes and match the colour palette of the ballons to that of your event and you have a backdrop that really stands out. I always add a word of caution to balloon backdrops because they obviously pop quite easily which could ruin the display… how much do you really trust all of the guests that are attending  your event?

Other Photo Booth Backdrop Inspiration
There are literally thousands of different ideas for photo booths out there and your only limitation is your imagination. A great resource for finding inspiration for your photo booth is on Pinterest.

Christmas Photo Booth Cornwall

Good Photographs Require Good Lighting

Lighting is the cornerstone of great photo booth photos. The Greek translation of the word “photography” literally means Drawing With Light. Needless to say if you do not afford your photo booth a good amount of light then the photographs will not look so good no matter how much effort you have put into creating an amazing backdrop and theme.

There are a few accepted rules in photography when it comes to light, the two main ones being the bigger the light source, the better the quality of light; and diffused light often gives a nicer looking image than direct light because it eliminates the shadows.

You will want to ensure consistent, well-distributed light to create flattering images. With this in mind, let’s have a look at your photo booth lighting options

Window Light
Consider utilizing natural light if your event takes place during the day where there will be lots of natural light available anyway. Position your photo booth opposite a large window or glass door to make the most of natural sunlight. It creates soft, even lighting that’s perfect for portraits. The only downside to this is if your event will continue into the evening where you will lose the natural light, if this is the case your going to need to add in some artificial lights

On Camera Flash / Speedlight
You can use an on camera flash to light up your photo booth subjects, but the small one built into your camera is probably not going to cut the mustard. The problem with the small on camera flashes is that they are so small they won’t produce a big enough coverage of light and they only point directly forward, meaning your going to end up with a lot of harsh shadows on the backdrop and potentially over people’s faces as the light gets cut off from the props being held up in front of them. The answer is to use a speedlight, this is a light that fits into the hot shoe on a camera and is directional, meaning it doesn’t always have to point forward. The best way to achieve an even coverage of nice flattering light is to point the speedlight up into a white ceiling. The light from the speedlight will bounce off of the white ceiling and fill the room with light in an even manner. The effect of the light bouncing off of the ceiling acts as diffusion and will help eliminate all of the strong shadows in the photograph too.

Studio Lights / Ring Lights
What most of the professional photo booth setups will use is an external light source similar to what you’d use in a photography studio. These might include studio strobes, constant led lighting, softboxes, ring lights, etc.  For a DIY setup these would obviously add a significant amount of cost to the build so have a think about who you know that likes photography or video making as it’s highly likely they will own some sort of lighting equipment that you can perhaps borrow.

I asked the experts at Special Events Photo Booths to tell us about the lighting in their photo booths and told us:

“For an energy-efficient and versatile lighting solution, consider using LED lights. LED’s allow you to easily adjust brightness settings throughout the day, ensuring your photo booth looks its best in various lighting conditions. They’re an excellent choice for longer events where the photo booth will be in use for an extended period, as they generate less heat compared to other lighting options. Additionally, LED’s can be creatively employed to create atmospheric mood lighting, enhancing the overall aesthetic of your photo booth.

Whether you’re setting up a professional or DIY photo booth, you’ll often find ring lights in use. These handy devices help eliminate unwanted shadows and can be accommodated even in the smallest of photo booth spaces. Larger ring lights can be strategically positioned to allow the camera to shoot through the center, effectively eradicating shadows and ensuring your subjects are well-lit for stunning photos.”

How To Make A DIY Photo Booth

Choosing The Right Photo Booth Camera

There is no denying it, a mirrorless or DSLR camera is going to deliver the best quality photographs out of all of your options, so if you already have one of these cameras then you are already good to go. If you don’t, consider asking friends and family if they have one that you can borrow for the event.

You’ll want to place your camera on a tripod, this will help eliminate blurry photographs and also means you just need to get the camera setup in the right position once and you’ll have consistent shots throughout the whole event. If your photo booth will be manned throughout the event then they can take the shots, alternatively you’ll need a remote of some sort so the people in the photos can trigger the camera themselves. Remotes are not expensive and you just need to ensure you get one that will work with your make and model of camera. Using the cameras in built self-timer is an alternative to using a remote trigger.

If you cannot get your hands on a DSLR or mirrorless camera then using a smart phone can be a good alternative. Phone camera technology has come on a long way and they are very capable of producing great results these days. You can either have a phone at the booth that everybody uses and you forward them on the photographs at a later date, or ask everybody to use their own phone and forward you on the images. If using a phone, you could also consider using a selfie stick for guests to use, though I think I’d still opt to have the camera set on a tripod for consistency and quality purposes myself.

A final option would be to have a polaroid camera available at the booth for your guests to use which will deliver printed photographs immediately. Polaroid cameras are still very popular and deliver a feeling of nostalgia which your guests will love. It’s worth remembering though that the cost of film soon adds up, so it might be worth limiting your guests to one photograph each.

Whichever camera setup you decide to use, remember it is only going to perform at it’s best if you have added enough light to the scene in the first place.

Choose The Right Photo booth Props

Props and outfits are where the photo booth experience becomes truly enjoyable and creative. They add a unique touch and help your guests express their personalities and most importantly have fun. Your props should match the theme and colours of both your photo booth and the overall event itself.
Here are some ideas:

– Consider stocking up on hats, wigs, and quirky glasses. These can instantly transform your guests and make for hilarious and memorable photos.

– Create signs and speech bubbles with funny sayings or event-related messages. It encourages your guests to get creative with their poses.

– To add a touch of glamour, offer colourful boas and scarves that guests can drape around themselves or others.

– For those feeling crafty, make your own props like mustaches on sticks, paper crowns, or superhero masks. This personal touch can make the experience even more unique.

– Some of our most popular props have been full head masks. We have in the past often included horse, wolf and pug masks which gives the person in them a little bit of anonymity, this certainly seems to encourage more creative poses in the final photographs.

DIY Photobooth

Provide Easy To Understand Photo Booth Instructions

To ensure that your photo booth is a hit at your event and that everyone has a fantastic time it’s important to let everybody know what they need to do whilst using the booth and after they have finished.

Creating a simple and clear instruction sign near the photo booth is crucial. Guests of all ages and backgrounds should be able to understand how to use it without any confusion. Phrases like “Press the button to take a photo!” or “Grab a prop and strike a pose!” not only simplify the process but also add an element of fun and excitement. Make sure the instructions are prominently displayed and well-lit so that they are easily noticed.

Consider having a friendly and knowledgeable photo booth attendant on hand to assist guests, especially if your setup involves more complex equipment. An attendant can guide guests on how to use the photo booth, change props or themes, troubleshoot any technical issues, and ensure a smooth experience for everyone. Their presence adds a personal touch and ensures that your photo booth runs seamlessly throughout the event.

You can enhance the overall experience by offering guests the option to share their photo booth pictures digitally if they used their own cameras. You can set up a dedicated sharing station where guests can email or upload their photos to social media instantly. Additionally, consider providing a physical photo album or printed copies of the pictures as souvenirs if they are using your camera. These tangible keepsakes help keep the spirit of your event alive long after it has finished.

Have Fun With Your Photo Booth

Setting up a DIY photo booth is an excellent way to add excitement and capture memorable moments at your wedding, party or event. It is an excellent accompaniment to your wedding photographer. By paying attention to lighting, backgrounds, cameras, props, and placement, you can create a photo booth that will be the highlight of your gathering.

Embrace the fun, let your imagination guide you, and watch as your guests create moments they’ll cherish for years to come. This DIY photo booth isn’t just about taking pictures; it’s about crafting an experience that reflects the essence of your celebration and the joy of those who are a part of it.

Have fun, get creative, and let those smiles shine!