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               Searching for a Photobooth?
           Questions You Should Ask When 
                Researching A Photobooth       

When researching the renting of a photobooth for your event, you should have an idea as to what you want for you and your guests. Everyone is looking for a bargain, but price should not be the only thing to consider. Keep in mind if the price is low, usually additional services may be added at an additional cost, so it is a good idea to have a list of what you want and questions ready when you discuss this with the vendor. 

You know your guests and can anticipate what they might do at the event. The photobooth invites the crazy antics of “Uncle Billy and Cousin Annie”.  You want to be ready to capture those moments by making sure that the right photo booth services are included. The concept of the photobooth is to ensure that you and your guests will have a fun and memorable time, as well as providing your guests a memento of the occasion that they created.

With over 300 events under our belt, we have compiled a list of questions and some comments as to why these questions should be asked during your research.  Please feel free to use this in your search. 

Is the booth enclosed or open (no enclosure)?  My experience has shown that the enclosed booth is more personal. At your event, you would like all of your guests to pose for a photo. I make it point towards the end of the event to go from table to table to encourage the guests who have not had their photo taken to try it. Many of the shy ones are reluctant, but eventually step into the booth. If the booth is open, usually a curtain hanging on a wall, guests may be even more reluctant to pose or be less “creative” if they are in full view of the other guests during the photo session. I always tell them “What happens in the booth, stays in the booth” (until the photos come out). 

How many guests will fit in the booth? The more, the merrier. As the event progresses, the guests become less inhibited and become more creative. It’s not unusual for the guests to request a photo session with four or more people. Our booth can photograph up to nine adults without "cutting off their heads". Before each photo session, we always ask the next group how many people are in their group. We adjust the camera depending on the size of the group. We "work" the booth so that your guests will walk away with a great series of photos. 

What size prints do you offer? The most popular print is the four pose, photo strip with the guest(s) of honor's name, date, additional message at the bottom of the strip. One of signature services is that we produce a larger size photo strip. We produce an 8" x 2 1/2" photo stip. 
The industry standard print is printed on a 4x6” sheet of paper. The format is usually one classic photo strip with four poses (usually 6"x 1 3/4") or a 4x6" grid photo with four poses (one photo in each corner of the print).  I prefer a larger size photo strip to see the details of the individual's expressions and antics in the booth. Guests are amazed at the size of our strip.  Bigger Is Better!

Does the photo strip include a personalized message, date, names, etc. that I can add?  Yes. You want to have something to identify the event on the photo strip. For example for a wedding: 

How many photo strips do you print per session? Most photobooths usually print two strips: one for the scrapbook and the other print for guests to share. The question is, with a large group, who gets the one strip? I find it more rewarding by giving each guest photographed in the booth, a photo strip. They created it. They should each have a memento of the moment.

Can the photobooth produce black & white and sepia tone prints as well as color? Giving your guests this option offers some of the mature guests some nostalgia of the photo strips taken when they went to the amusement parks years ago. However, many of the younger guests like this option as well. 

What type of printing is used? This is important. This is a permanent memento of your occasion. You want to provide your guests a high quality photo. Will the images fade after 6 months, a year? Known as archival quality, you want the print to retain its color for years to come. Inkjet is the least popular because the inks will smudge and fade over a short period of time. By asking this question and doing a little extra research yourself, you will be able to verify the vendor’s response. I prefer dye sub printing. The prints can be handled as they exit the printer, are waterproof and the archival quality is listed at 100 years.

Can you send me a sample print so I can see the quality and durability of the print? Photos on a website may look nice and you may try to print it out on your printer, but it won’t do it justice. A sample from an expo or requested photo mailed to you is the best way to judge the quality. You are paying a high price for the photo booth service.  You should be getting the best quality possible. The only way to see this is by having their “product” in your hand.

What type of recording device do you use to capture the images? Lighting and the camera lens are the most important elements in order to produce the best quality image. A digital camera with a good quality lens is your best bet. Webcams are also used, but the quality and sharpness of the image may be compromised, especially if you want to make reprints or enlargements later on. Grant it, these are not professional portraits, but if you have a choice. You want the best quality for your guests.

Are props included? What kind of props? You want your guests to have fun. Props add to the fun. My estimate is that at least 95% of the guests use the props. Feather boas, hats, masks, crazy sunglasses are commonly used.   It always amazes me how many men will wear a feather boa.

Is the photo scrapbook included? The scrapbook is very popular. It usually includes one photo strip from each session, placed in a photo keepsake where the guests should be able to write their name and add a sentiment, if they wish. 

Is the scrapbook an actual scrapbook or electronic? Viewing the scrapbook online can have its drawbacks. You have given your guests the password to view the scrapbook online, little Johnny and his family are looking for their photo. Prior to their photo John and Mary’s photos are in the scrapbook and they had a few drinks and are very “creative” with their poses. Also do you have complete control of the images? You don’t want John and Mary’s photos all over the internet. Call me old school, but I provide a hardcopy scrapbook and CD to the couple or guest of honor. They have the control of the photos.

Can my guests view the photos on the internet? If so, how is it protected from ending up on someone’s social website? Same reason as above.

What is the cost of the photo CD? Most vendors include this as a complimentary service. The photo CD should include a file that has all of the individual photos. You may want to have reprints made of your favorite photos later on. Also, I have had guests call me directly after an event, wanting to purchase the photo CD from me. Because I don't know who I am talking on the phone at the time, I do not sell the CD to guests. If a guest requests a CD, I refer them to the person who contracted us and the client can then "burn" them a copy from their CD. Just a way of protecting our client and guests from images ending up somwhere where they shouldn't. 

What experience does the booth attendant have? How long employed? This is your special event. There are times when a large group wants to have their picture taken, especially at weddings. The attendant should make sure that the guests are positioned in the booth safely and make recommendations so that the best photo can be taken. Once the curtain is closed, they are on their own. For large groups, I make adjustments to widen the camera lens to include up to nine guests and then reset the lens for the smaller groups. The photo booth is a device that requires all of its components to work together. Sometimes with the transportation of the booth to the site, a plug could get disconnected, a component could be damaged or something goes wrong with the booth. The reception occurs during a limited time, so any possible situations must be handled as quickly as possible, either through photo know-how, photo booth knowledge and diplomacy. There is no rescheduling of the event. “I don’t know” or “we’ll give you a refund” is not an acceptable remedy.  

Tell the vendor where the event is going to be. Indoors in a room surrounded by windows? Outside on a patio? In the middle of a field? Most events are held indoors, with a controlled lighting environment. By informing the vendor of the booth within the facility will help the vendor anticipate any unusual situations and allows him to make adjustments. Lighting is very important when taking a photograph, so the vendor should be prepared before the event to overcome any unusual lighting conditions. As for me, I prefer to preview the location at least a week in advance and try to schedule that preview at the same time of day as the event. This way I can get an idea as to what to expect and, if necessary, either make a suggestion to change the location of the photo booth at the event’s location or prepare the booth for any unusual situation. This way there are no surprises the day of the event and I won’t have to try and track down the event coordinator while they are trying to handle the other last minute details. 

What other services do they offer?  Most photo booth vendors offer a standard package for a set price. Many times, they will also have some additional services that could add more fun to the day's events. Even though they list these services on their website, this is an ever changing business. New ideas and services may be in the development stage, but by the time your event rollsaround it may be available. It doesn't hurt to ask.

 Do you have a special request that you want to be included with the photobooth? Can they accommodate your request? This is your event and you may have some ideas of your own that you feel will add to the entertainment. Your special requests are appreciated by the vendor. Whether they can accommodate you or not, it may be an idea that they never considered. Keep in mind, in most cases, if it is a special request, it will  probably cost extra.

The photobooths have been around for many years, but since the advent of computers and dry printing, the combination of the two allowed the photobooths to be more compact and mobile. This has created a new and fun attraction to entertain your guests, while providing them a with memento of your wedding, reunion, party, etc. that they created. Because your event is a onetime event, limited to a few hours, you don’t want to spend that special day finding out that you are not getting “this” or “this is not what I expected”. In the case of a wedding, you’ve got a thousand and one details running through your head that day. By asking the right questions and know what to expect, the day of the event will be memorable. Good luck in your search.

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