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The Photo Booth!

November 3rd, 2010  |  Published in Shoot

Okay, I’ll admit it– I absolutely love it when my clients ask me to set up a photo booth during their wedding.  Why?  The photo booth adds a dash of fun and spontaneity to a reception and can give you coverage of interesting groups of people (random groups that you may not have put together otherwise) or people that may not be particularly fond of dancing.  Of course, the photographs are often extremely entertaining- they make the editing process fly by!  Here are some of my favorite photo booth shots- be sure to scroll down to read more about the equipment and setup.

Photo Booth

There are many different methods out there from a real booth to an actual photographer manning a camera. There is no wrong way to do a photo booth!  Personally, I like the “photo booth-that-isn’t-really-a-booth” because it can accommodate fairly large groups of people.  I like the setup that doesn’t include a photographer because I find that people will get comfortable and crazy in front of the camera if they are taking the photo themselves.  I prefer to go simple and portable because I shoot so many of my weddings solo, I travel great distances to get to them, and I don’t want to lug a ton of gear with me.

Basically my photo booth consists of the following: a Canon G11, a Canon flash, a wired remote release, a tripod, a box of props, and a backdrop and stand (if needed).   Why the G11?  It has a swivel LCD screen that can be maneuvered to face your subject.  You can swivel the screen around so that they can see themselves before they take the photo to frame it up and after the photo is taken (everyone loves instant gratification!).  There are other options as well- you can certainly use a digital SLR and hook it to an computer or free-standing screen.  You can even use an iPad if you have a foolproof wireless network!

Here is how I set up my booth:

Step One: TALK TO YOUR VENUE. Find out where you can and where you cannot set up your station.  You don’t want any nasty surprises the day of your wedding, so make sure that you and the venue are cooperating.

Step Two: Choose your location. I like to pick a spot that is both out of the way but in a traffic pattern of some sort.  I don’t want people to forget all about the photo booth, but I don’t want it to become the center of attention.  I want everyone to see people having fun at the photo booth, but I also want to give them some privacy.  Of course, I am also looking for a simple, single-color wall because if I can find one, then I don’t need to set up the backdrop.  Occasionally I will also add a chair or piece of furniture into the mix.

Step Three: Set up your tripod and camera. Pick a heavy-duty tripod because you don’t want it knocked over by the drunk frat brother who trips over it or pulls the wired remote a bit too hard.  Some people have chosen a wireless remote to avoid the latter, but I prefer a wired remote because it won’t wander away from the camera in the middle of the night.

Step Four: Choose your camera settings. My photo booth is in RAW and all manual, all the time.  If the lighting changes in the reception (this happens quite often after the first dance or during open dancing), I adjust my booth settings.  I bounce my flash, and that is set to manual as well.  Make sure that you choose a flash that is powerful enough for work in a dark reception (especially if you  choose a camera that is not a high-ISO performer).

Step Five: Set up the box of props.
Almost anything can be used as a photo booth prop.  I once left a roll of duct tape with my props (I used it to secure something to my tripod) and that roll of duct tape was used in so many of the shots that evening!  Encourage your couple to bring their own props, too!  Anything goes- from the mustache on a stick to the sombrero, from a dry-erase board to fedora hats and big sunglasses.  Props can add so much to your photo booth shots!

Step Six:  Announce the booth. I like to have my couples grab the microphone to announce the booth.  I have found that participation is much greater if the couple asks everyone to be in at least a handful of shots.

Step Seven: Edit the pics and prepare to laugh!

Post by Maine Wedding Photographer Michelle Turner.

About Michelle Turner

Michelle Turner has written 19 post in this blog.

Michelle is a professional wedding photographer who splits time between Maine and Puerto Vallarta.


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