Photo booths are one of the most fun and entertaining things you can add to any party. Whether you have selfie mad friends, crazy uncles or just love the idea of some more candid memories, a Photo booth will get your guests out of their seat and talking about your party for ages afterwards- whatever their age!
However just placing a photo booth in the room isn’t always enough to ensure you and your guests get the most from it. Over the years we’ve seen many couples and events, where simple things have been overlooked and its resulted in not many people using the photo booth at all, limiting the number of unique memories everyone gets to look back on.
We’re all for making sure you get the most fun with the best value for money, so checkout our below list of things to consider when deciding on your photo booth hire, to avoid being disappointed.
1. Which photo booth is best for you?
We get asked all the time, 'Which photo booth is the best?’ and there really is no answer, other than ‘The one that’s right for you.’ Many companies have a range of different booths to choose from because of this. Photo booths come in all shapes and sizes and have different advantages to each. To get the best idea you need to first ask yourself a few questions:
Do I have much space?
Is there a lot of other activities going on?
What features am I particularly keen on?
Do the guests have any limitations on what they can use?
These sorts of questions will help you understand your event, your layout & potentially remove any of the impractical options from your decision making it easier for you. If you are unsure, or just want guidance then speak to the potential supplier. They will know the pro’s & cons of each set up and be able to advise you.
Yes, I do have my personal favourites & options I’ll go to if the client leaves it up to us, but I know what I prefer isn’t the same as someone else. If the venue is small, then our giant inflatable photo booth won’t physically fit, and if you’re looking to take a lot of big group selfies our oval booths simply won’t accommodate you all at once, so an open booth is the way to go. However, if you want the photo booth going near the stage, then the open booth will be affected by the stage lights so one of the enclosed booths will be better suited. It really does depend on you and the event.
Finally, if you select a certain photo booth and it’s not practical when the company arrives to set up, they can’t just go to the van and pull another option out the back due to the amount (and value) of equipment needed- meaning you most likely will miss out, and probably still be charged. Therefore, it’s definitely worth thinking about it all before hand to avoid disappointment.
2. What time shall the photo booth open?
To be able to maximise how much fun your guests have with the photo booth, the photo booth must be open when they’re most active. Open it too early and your guests will be too busy saying hello to everyone to acknowledge it, yet if the photo booth is open too late, guests will have gravitated towards the dancefloor.
A secondary factor to consider is who your guests are. If there are a lot of children or elderly at the event, they tend to arrive as the party starts & drift away before the end of the evening, so an earlier photo booth makes sense. Similarly, if your guests are predominantly middle aged, they tend to arrive a little later but stay until the venue locks up- so a later opening time will suit the event better. The third There is caution to consider though, as having the booth open too late will increase the possibility of one or more guests having had too much to drink and becoming a danger to themselves and others. It’s all a question of balance.
The previous section describes what we’ve seen for evening only events. Weddings are a bit different. Usually, we would suggest an earlier opening time for weddings as the guests are already there & settled in from being there all day. Weddings are also long days for everyone involved so guests are more likely to drift away or relax into longer discussions.
3. Where shall I place the photo booth?
The third most important thing to consider is where you’re going to place the photo booth. Firstly, you have to make sure it will fit the area, so make sure there is enough space, you avoid low hanging lights, slanted ceilings or obstructions such as pillars.
Secondly it needs to be in a practical location. For example, somewhere near a plug socket to avoid trailing wires, and not in the way of corridors and fire escapes. Most venues have a preferred location for photo booths now, so speak to them if you’re unsure. Thirdly you want the photo booth somewhere near the action. Back rooms, or alcoves look great on paper as their quiet, out the way & with plenty of space, but if your guests can’t see the photo booth, they won’t think to use it. The events that get the best usage are the ones where you can get dragged in on a whim whilst passing (e.g. just off the dance floor), rather than having to decide to visit it (e.g. at the back of a big hall.)
4. What features should I have set up on the photo booth?
You may or may not know that photo booths have now evolved beyond just taking pictures. Our photo booths for example have a range of fun and exciting features for people to enjoy including various green screen features, ability to record video messages, creating gifs, wearing digital props & even singing their heart out to karaoke to record their own music video if they’re are brave enough. These can all be a lot of fun and offer really unique ways for you and your guests to enjoy your evening. As such it’s not uncommon for people to want everything turned on for their event. However, this approach can cause a few problems people forget to take into account.
Firstly, more features mean more options to choose from. If guests aren’t used to photo booths (or computers in general) or have had a few to drink, having to go through several steps and wrong options is confusing and annoying. Generally, people are aware that a photo booth, takes Photos and only find out about the other features the first time they use it, this keeps it simple for everyone. Although there is an assistant watching and helping guests use the photo booth, they’re not in the booth with them, and I’ve lost count how many people have missed the ‘Take Photo’ button, got confused and pressed anything else, only to get annoyed it’s not taking a picture.
The second problem with having too many feature options, is that it can increase the time a group is spending in the booth. That sounds great- more usage means more memories! Not exactly. More often than not, when people spend longer in the booth, it’s not because they’re taking more photos, it’s because they’re discussing which feature to use, then deciding on the appropriate props, changing their mind when someone picks something else out the prop box, and finally re-doing the shot as they don’t like the finished result. If it’s a single photo the entire process may only take a minute or two, but recording a karaoke song, a drunken video message, or by using multiple features (e.g. photos followed by a video message) guests can be in the booth for a lot longer, which is not so fun for the queue of people that have been standing outside the booth waiting for their turn getting increasingly bored and frustrated.
Personally, I would suggest picking your favourite photography settings (eg backdrop, number of shots etc) and one or two other features you really want to use at most. Probably with 99% of visits to the photo booth, people take pictures and ignore everything else. It’s simpler & more effective to cut out the confusion of too many options.
5. How can I ensure the photo booth runs smoothly?
From an operational point, leave that to us (or the company that you hire.) We’ve run a lot of Photo booths at various events so know how to get your guests engaged. However there is one thing you can do, that helps us massively- Speak to the venue and let them know you have a photo booth for your event!
Venues are no strangers to photo booths these days, and many will have preferred locations for the booths to go & can offer tips and advice for you. Many venues also want additional information from us before the event (e.g. Insurance & PAT certificates.) If they don’t have those documents, they have every right to refuse us the right to work on their premises. Thankfully this has never happened, and we always have a copy of the usual paperwork required to hand, but it only takes a manager to be away or a ‘jobsworth’ employee to throw a spanner in the works- something you definitely don’t want just as your parties starting.
Finally, by telling the venue there is a photo booth coming, they can plan for it (especially hotel events where everything is prepared to the letter). Let them know the area required and they’ll build it into their plans, that way the space is available to set up the photo booth when we need it. There is nothing more disruptive for the host than us arriving at an event, and then needing to move the entire room around to accommodate the photo booth- ‘Let’s move this table there, remove that table, the sweet cart will have to move over to that alcove as that area’s reserved for presents, and the cake will have to go at the other end of the buffet.’
So what does it all mean?
Overall, we understand that in some events the photo booth will be a massive hit & constantly busy even if you ignore the 5 points above, and similarly you could plan them to the max and people still only use the booth once- unfortunately this is the unpredictability of us as humans, so we can’t guarantee a huge success by following the guides. However, we believe that with a little bit of consideration (and we don’t suggest spending ages going over and over the above points!) it will go a long way to making your event smoother, making sure your guests get the maximum fun out of a photo booth, and that you get fantastic memories and amazing value for money.
Speak to us!
We always like to hear from people that have read the information we create, so If you’d like to discuss anything we’ve mentioned above, have any questions about how these could impact your event, or would like to enquire about us running a photo booth for you, then please get in contact Click here!
Look forward to speaking with you soon!
South Coast Pictures have been photographing weddings in Portsmouth and the surrounding areas since 2007. Having expanded into photo booths as well in 2015 we've helped hundreds of couples get the most from their big days.
To answer any questions you have, or to see how we can help you, please click here.