- 6 years ago
- Wedding: June 2013
Sorry. This is a long post. But I’m trying to put everything I had to search the web for in one place so you hopefully won’t have to spend time researching…
1) old HP laptop
2) canon SELPHY CP900 printer (and three 108 print cart/paper packs) –> can print via wi-fi or USB
3) USB cable
4) props from the dollar store and thrift shop
5) SPARKBOOTH photobooth software
6) Old external computer monitor
7) Logitech webcam (8 MP)
8) Wireless keyboard
alternative: You could just use an old desktop computer and do the same setup
THE LONG VERSION:
I recently got married and didn’t want to pay a photobooth company hundreds of dollars for a few hours of pics (along with all the hidden fees for “extras” like a USB drive with all the photos, props, a photo book…)
So I made my own “open air” photobooth. It went over really, really well, and if you want to save some money by doing your own booth, here’s how I did it.
1) I was married outdoors and used an old tool shed as the “booth.” It was great and added a rustic feel to the pictures. If your wedding in indoors, just do an open-air booth with a backdrop. The Dollar Tree sells curtain rods and shower curtains if you want to go cheap.
2) Old laptop –> I used an old HP laptop which worked great
3) External monitor –> again, I used an old external monitor so guests could see their pics as they are taken
4) Logitech webcam –> If you don’t already own a webcam you might as well go big and get the logitech C920 (around $80 on amazon or target.com). You won’t need a better webcam than this ever. I used a slightly older model that took 8 MP pics which were still excellent quality.
5) Printer: Here is the biggest headache when trying to figure this out on-line. You read a billion posts about the best printer and blah, blah, blah. After much searching, I settled on a Canon SELPHY CP900.
This prints using dye-sub technology. The quality is as good as I’ve seen from a pro booth. And you know how many pics you will get per cartridge. For example, you can buy a package that does 108 prints: it comes with 108 4 x 6 sheets and 3 carts that print 36 pictures per cart. Whether you print a 4 x 6 that is a black line or a picture that fills a complete 4 x 6 with a rainbow of colors, they both “cost” 1 print. Plain Jane simpel English: no matter what you print on a 4 x6, each cart is worth 36 4 x 6 prints. I had a big wedding, so I bought enough to do 324 pics (which cost around $100). The pics print in less than 2 minutes. It’s really fast. I had the personal attendent round every once in a while to change the paper and carts if need be. 36 prints per cart seems like a little when you have at least 200 guests, but it never became an issue. It went flawlessly. If you are anal about these things, hire a fried for $50 and food and beer to stand there all night and run the show. Seriously, a monkey could run this system.
If you are at a venue that prints wirelessly, you can easily configure the printer to print via wi-fi. Leaving nothing to chance, I bought a USB cable and tethered the printer to the laptop.
6) Software –> SPARKBOOTH
I have a new mac laptop. I didn’t want to use it for the booth because I was worried it would either get stolen or broken. So I used my brother’s old HP laptop. Sparkbooth costs $60. So at first, I really considered using my mac still, so I could keep the software on my own computer. I soon learned that for 60 bucks you get THREE (3) license codes. That means for 60 bucks, you can download SPARKBOOTH on up to 3 different computers. That’s pretty freaking awesome. So I downloaded it on the old HP and on my new mac. The sweet part was that now I had a backup computer in case shit went south during the wedding. Always gotta be prepared.
Cool things about SPARKBOOTH:
a) there are billion templates to choose from
b) The bummer about the SELPHY printer is that it does not print photobooth strips. But since it prints on 4 x6 I set up SPARKBOOTH to print 2 x 2 top 4 x6 portait.
This way guests would get 4 different poses that printed to 4 squares on the top of the 4 x 6 and at the bottom I designed a graphic of our names and the wedding date. This way whenever they looked at it, they would remember that did it at our wedding. Nostalgia!
c) The graphic was actually the hardest part. You can set up the 4 x6 to print in a billion different templates. Some will take enough prints to fill the whole 4 x 6 with pictures. But I thought the graphic with Mr. and Mrs. *insert wedding date here* looked better. I had no clue how to do this. I found a how-to video on the sparkbooth website. If you choose to go this route, simply google “sparkbooth custom background.”
I don’t have photoshop. On PC you can use paint.net using the link above. If you have a mac, download pixelmator which has a free 2 week trial. I used pixelmator and saved the new template and transfered it to the HP laptop. It worked really well.
d) You can set up sparkbooth to upload all the pics to facebook automatically. I did not do this because the last wedding I was at my friend had a buddy write a message to the bridge and groom on his ass and took a photo of it in the booth. Nobody wants their hairy balls on facebook. I think…
e) You can upload all the pics to a private pic hosting source and supply the guests with a link so they can either save their pics to their computer or print them off themselves. This would save you from having to spend money on a printer and paper and carts. But trust me, people loved having pics to bring home.
f) Sparkbooth does save all the photos automatically to a file on your hard drive so you can look through all of them after the wedding. My wife and I looked through them all the day after while drinking wine. We laughed so hard we cried. You might want to make sure your guests know that you will be able to see the pics later. Or maybe you don’t
g) It was so awesome to see all the pics of all the guest letting loose and having fun in the booth. It’s really cool to not see everyone up tight and in staged pro pics. I’ve never seen some of my relatives letting loose and smiling that way. Plus I got a picture of my parents kissing that I will cherish until the day I die.
h) You can set up sparkbooth to automatically print 1 photo.
i) I didn’t want people farting around with the settings or the computer in general. With sparkbooth, all you need to do is hit SPACEBAR and it counts down from 3 and starts taking pics. I set a wireless keyboard next to the printer and it went off real slick.
7) Set up and props:
I wanted the laptop hidden. So I took a small old bookshelf, removed a row of shelving, and set the laptop inside. I faced it toward the wall, with the back of the case pointing at the guest. I covered it with a table cover from the dollar store. I set the external monitor on top of the shelf and ran a monitor cable from the laptop to the monitor. I set the logitech webcam on top of the montor, and fastened it using velcro strips from Walmart. I put an old bedside table next to the shelf and covered it with a similar cover and placed the printer on it. I ran a usb cable from the printer to the laptop.
You will proably want a surge protector for all the plug ins.
I bought 30 dollars in props from the dollar store. Fun sunglasses. Fake mustaches. Googly eye glasses. Hula girl coconut bras, sea shell bras (super funny in pics). Cowboy hats.
I found huge old fashioned picture frames at a thrift store. They had nice woodworking. Guests held them up and were able to fit three people inside so it looked as if they were inside a photo frame.
For lighting, I found 2 lamps at a thrift store. One had 5 bulbs that were adjustable.
Worked really well so I could adjust the lighting.
Most of the work of the booth was research. Using everything above, it went off without a hitch. I spent less than $300 probably overall and got to have the booth for my entire wedding. I have pictures that no photographer would have ever captured that are priceless and worth the extra work this took. If you don’t want to spend the money or energy on printing pics for guests, just do everything that was outlined above and forget the printer. Sparkbooth saves all the pics to your computer or you can load them to an image hosting service automatically and guests can access them on-line. If you wanted you could print off all the pics via Walgreens or something and send them out to each guest in their “THANK YOU” cards.
But trust me, for less than $100 bucks you can get 324 pictures printed and the guests LOVE, LOVE, LOVE having a picture to take home.
Feel free to ask questions about the DIY booth.