DIY Photo Booth for Wedding / Party + Backdrops, Props & More
DIY photo booths have become really fashionable. You’ll see them at weddings, parties, and conventions everywhere. They give guests something fun to do and they really break the ice at any social event. Then you throw some fun / silly, themed props and a backdrop into the mix, and you’ve got some quality entertainment for the whole night.
But renting a photo booth for a party can get expensive. It can cost between $500 and $1500 bucks for a really good one for the night. But what if you don’t have the budget for that? And you don’t want a DIY wedding photo booth that takes bad pictures…
High quality photo booth DIY made easy
If you’re a photographer with some reasonably decent gear, you likely have almost everything you need for a professional quality DIY wedding photo booth. Even if you don’t, you can easily buy it all for under $500 (yes, the camera / flash / tripod /remote… EVERYTHING).
In this post, I’ll list out what you need to make a fully automated photo booth at parties (get ready for a lot of test shots of me). The setup itself is pretty much just a camera on a tripod, but it produces professional results. And because I own everything I need, I just reuse it at different events… Just mix up the background, lighting, processing, and props for a different experience each time!
As you can see, you can get really professional looking results with this setup if you understand lighting (which is the key). From an experience standpoint, having a remote control camera release shutter where anyone can just press a button to take the photo, makes the photo booth feel more professional too.
So what kind of gear do you need?
DIY Photo Booth Equipment list
- $155 – Any camera with a hotshoe that can be triggred remotely (Panasonic G3 for example)
- $29 – any tripod – the taller, the better
- $22 – remote trigger
- $36 – A speedlite flash (or continuous lights)
- $20 – softbox or umbrella for more professional looking photos
Grand total… $313!
DIY Photo Booth props
You can find great props for photo booths at the dollar store, craft stores, or any party store. Sunglasses, hats, balloons, streamers, signs, frames, and cutouts are all very popular. You can even buy ready made cutout sets for not much money at all.
- While almost any camera will do, most professional photo booths now have a screen that shows a preview of what the photo will look like. You don’t need buy a separate screen though… for my DIY photo booth, I just use a camera with a flip out screen, like the Panasonic G3, which can now be purchased on eBay for really cheap (~$155 at the time of this writing).
- If you use a camera with a screen on it, put a sign somewhere reminding them to look at the lens (or else you get photos of people looking to the side)
- Have extra batteries or an AC adapter handy! If your photo booth is going to be running all night, you need a way to keep it going.
- Having one or two remote triggers makes it easy for people to take photos of themselves.
- Wide lenses work best for photo booths – generally you don’t want to take up a lot of space. anywhere between 15mm-35mm is probably best (full frame equivalent).
- Getting properly focused images is often a challenge with a photo booth. It might be best to place an X on the floor, set a high aperture, and manually prefocus at the beginning of the night. You’ll be able to shoot photos much more rapidly. Sometimes, if you use auto focus, the lens will take a long time to focus / take out of focus images.
- Test your stuff the night before!
- Backdrop stands are not the most sturdy things in the world. you might want to weigh them down with weights or just tape your decorations to a wall. Background stands do not work well outside in the wind.
- Photo booths can get a little rowdy. With a camera on a tripod, you have to make sure that partiers don’t tip the whole thing over. It’s a good idea to partially block access to the camera with a table to help ensure that people don’t bump into it and so that you have a place to put the props.
Below is the softbox I linked to in the equipment list above. It’s really cheap and provides good light for a simple photo booth.
Here’s a quick test shot I took at a 28mm focal length equivalent, standing against a wall.
As you can see, setting up a DIY photo booth is pretty easy to set up. Just get a halfway decent camera, some good lighting, and a remote trigger, and you are ready to rock!