Photo lab technology continues to expand. Savvy event planners, print shops, and other business owners harness the power of digital capture and print technology to serve the event market with on-site photo booths. Weddings, corporate parties, and fundraisers of all sizes are ideal settings for this niche opportunity.
"The younger generation really love photo booths because of the instantaneous array of photos and the of fun posing. The older generation reflects on the nostalgic value that this brings to an event, and remembers the old Coney Island-style booths from their childhood," states Mark Ashe, president, Marx Entertainment. The full-service deejay entertainment company is based in East Longmeadow, MA.
Photo booths capture the personality of each guest. "While a professional wedding photographer captures the moments between the bride and groom, bridal party, and immediate family, a photo booth captures each guest," notes Austin T. Sweazy, owner/operator, Photo Fun Box, LLC. "It’s a great way to remember each person that came to the wedding," he continues.
A photo booth livened up a traditional cocktail hour for Karla Testa and Greg Casey’s wedding, held in Philadelphia, PA in the Fall of 2009. The couple hired The Wilmington Photo Booth Co. to capture memories of their reception and provide guests with a fun keepsake.
Photo booths get guests—from the youngest to the oldest—up and actively engaged. " People usually run around with a fist full of photos showing everyone what they did in the photo booth," explains Peter Marroni, owner, The Wilmington Photo Booth Co.
The DE-based photo booth rental company is celebrating one year in business. "Weddings are our biggest draw," says Marroni. "It’s fun. People love being behind the curtain and taking candid shots. A traditional photographer can only do so much, and their time is mostly spent with the guests of honor. A photo booth allows the guests to take fun shots and they can come in as many times as they want with different people," he explains.
Photo booth packages from The Wilmington Photo Booth Co. include delivery, set up, and break down. Two operators knowledge in handling the equipment are included in every package. Three hour packages start at $987. Guests receive a photo strip of multiple poses, 15 seconds or less after their photo session. "This is a perfect keepsake," says Marroni. "In some cases they also get a frame if the hosts choose the option. We have acrylic frames, which are a nice added touch."
Guests can also view and download photos online and order extra copies. "At the event, they receive a card from us with the event identification number and password for online access. Visitors to the site are not forced to buy the prints to gain access to the photos," he explains.
Photos are customizable with special text or logos to help guests recall the wedding or event. This is included in every package from The Wilmington Photo Booth Co. "We are very detailed about this. In fact, a week prior to every event we email a copy to the guest of honor for approval. We know this is an important aspect of our product," admits Marroni.
Prop packages are an additional option. At $119 each, The Wilmington Photo Booth Co. offer four different options. For sanitary purposes, props are not reused, so each time someone orders a package it is new and the guests keep the props at the end of the event. Prop packages from some photo booth rental companies include hats and wigs, Mardi Gras beads, feather boas, glasses, and more.
Marx Entertainment owns six photo booths. Packages start at $750 and reach over $1,700. Each package comes with a technician and free props. External viewing screens are available for an additional charge.
Photo Fun Box packages include an on-site technician, online photo hosting, a DVD, full rights to the photos, a custom designed logo, and color or B&W prints. The basic, three hour package is $1,000 and the extended package, which is four hours and includes a scrapbook, is $1,300.
Behind the Curtain
The make up of a photo booth consists of a booth structure, camera, and printer. The physical booth can be a refurbished, classic, carnival-style system or a homemade structure. Digital cameras capture images rapidly and send them through a USB connection straight to a digital printer or minilab for high-quality, high-speed photo printing.
Photo booths available from The Wilmington Photo Booth Co. weigh about 70 pounds and are approximately three by five feet and six feet tall. The booths feature a removable bench to accommodate wheelchairs. "They are modern with a classic feel," says Marroni. "The photos come out nice whether one person or 16 people—which is our record—are in the shot. We have various background colors, which enhance the experience." The booths also feature an external viewing screen that displays a loop of the photos for guests waiting in line.
The Wilmington Photo Booth Co. booths use Canon PowerShot S3 digital cameras to capture guest photos. The six-megapixel hybrid digital cameras feature Canon’s proprietary DIGIC II image processor, ISO equivalent speed ratings ranging from 80 to 800, shift-type optical image stabilization system, and retractable 12x optical zoom lens.
A Sony UP-DR150 Digital Photo Printer provides high-quality photos with a matte finish. The Sony printer produces guest photos rapidly, achieving up to 500 four- by six-inch prints per hour. It utilizes Sony’s dye-sublimation technology, and is designed to deliver quality, 334 dpi resolution prints and rapid turnaround in retail, studio, in-field event, and kiosk applications. It is capable of printing three types of print finishes—glossy, texture, and matte; on four print sizes—3.5- by five-, four- by six-, five- by seven-, and six- by eight-inch.
Clients continue to be satisfied. "We get many compliments on the quality of our prints, especially from those who experience other photo booths," shares Marroni.
Marroni doesn’t come from a background in printing, he was wowed by a photo booth at an event he attended. There began his new printing business. "What makes us better than the competition is not our experience but our willingness to fully commit to our product and our customers," he says.
Photo labs offer similar options in-house. The cost of the equipment, the transportation, and on-site technicians all factor into services provided by the aforementioned companies. Luckily, digital printing is becoming easier to use daily, creating an effortless way to provide long-lasting, high-quality memories for years to come.