Selecting a photobooth supplier

The photo booth has fast become the “must have” item for the modern wedding around the world!

Since 2007 the number of photo booth operators in Australia has increased exponentially. Flashback Photobooths was one of the first to start up in Australia, and since then many new operators have entered the market to leverage their success.

What makes a photo booth such a hit is that it fills that niche of being entertainment as well as providing long last memories for both guest and bride/groom alike. Everyone loves to have their picture taken, what they don’t always like is other people watching – so with no photographer or audience, users feel uninhibited within the safe confines of the booth, allowing them to be the most wacky versions of themselves that they can! The addition of a prop box including wigs, tiaras and feather boas makes this conducive. The result is some of the most candid and fun shots you can imagine of family and friends. These photostrips are then usually captured on USB or CD for the hirer to keep post event. Many operators also offer as standard in their wedding packages, the option of a guest-book whereby users place one copy of the photostrip (usually there are two identical copies of each photostrip printed) in the album and leave a message with one of the gold or silver pens provided. This guest book makes for the most amazing memento and is something brides will cherish forever.

How to choose a photo booth?

Do not try and make price your first step as you will only make the choice harder and more confusing!

The first thing you need to do is to research reputable photobooth operators and make a short-list of companies that operate in your area. Be sure that the companies you research are reliable, prompt, professional and still going to be in business come your wedding day! Over the years I have heard of too many operators double booking, not turning up, forgetting the film roll or just being hard to deal with. Bridal websites and blogs, wedding expos and talking to past brides and venues about their experiences are the best sources of research. A very reliable starting point is the Australian Bridal Industry Academy (www.abia.com.au). All of the suppliers on ABIA have been rated by their past customers so you can check each company’s rating and even see if they have won any awards. Another really important thing to do is check the operators ABN (www.abr.business.gov.au) – this will tell you how long the company has been operating for and that they are registered as a business.

Now that you have your short-list the next thing to decide is which size/style of photo booth suits your theme or venue. From the smaller traditional all-steel cabinets to the marquee sized tents; these days the variety and styles of photobooths on offer is immense. Some operators offer a blow up booth or one that looks like a spaceship which may be great for a birthday party but not so well suited to your wedding.

Be mindful of the floor space the booth and peripheral items (e.g. table for the guest book/props) will require. There is a misconception that biggest is best but this isn’t always the case. Aside from possibly being the elephant in the room, often the intimate effect of the photobooth experience is lost as the booth gets larger and larger leaving the pictures looking no different from a group shot by a photographer. Users’ facial expressions often respond better to a more intimate, fun setting. Full body shots can result in awkward poses as people are often unsure what to do with their torso and legs. Finally the colour of the booth should be taken into consideration – try to choose something that works in with your theme/venue. Black and/or white are timeless colours which suit all occasions but you may have a particular colour theme you want incorporated. Many operators offer a change of curtain colour or backdrop so this is another way to personalise your booth.

So now you’ve decided what size, style and colour you’re after you can start thinking about features! Not all booths are made equal so don’t assume all booths offer the same features.

Things to consider are:

  • Does it offer colour and black/white photostrips as standard? Can this be changed each shot if desired?
  • Does it print and cut double strips each time?
  • Does it have an interactive LCD screen so the user knows what options are on offer, and most importantly they can see themselves in frame during the photo taking process?
  • Is an attendant required? If so, do I have to pay for their meals?
  • If no attendant is required – are the booths fully automated so you /your venue doesn’t have to worry about anything?
  • Do their photo-albums require an attendant to glue the strips into the album or are the albums set up with pre inserted sticky tabs so that this isn’t required.
  • Does it have video functionality?
  • Does the operator take care of all the venue liaison or is it all up to me?
  • How fast is the print cycle and how many strips can I expect for my hire duration?

Attendant versus no attendant?

An attendant is usually in the form of one or two people, whose primary role is to cut and/or paste the photostrips into the album, monitor the use of the props and ensure no harm comes to the photobooth by way of over-excited guests. An attendant is also there as a back-up should anything go wrong with the photobooth. The down side to the attendant, particularly at weddings, is that they require being fed which you need to pay for, in addition to hire cost, so be sure to factor this in when comparing. They also generally set up just before and will pack down straight after your hire so there is a likelihood of interruption to proceedings, which may not be ideal. Also bear in mind that if they run into traffic issues they may not even be set up when your guests arrive! You’ll also want to clarify whether or not the person will be suitably dressed on the day.

A small number of operators offer no attendant, if going with this be sure that they offer automated booths. An automated booth is one that turns itself on and off via an internal timer removing the necessity for the venue or yourself to have to do anything. The advantage of this is that the booth can be set up well before your event and not removed until well after the event or the next day so interruption to your night is avoided. Also, an automated booth means your guests will be less inhibited and free to have fun in the booth resulting in the most candid pictures possible. Be sure to also check that they offer a photo-album with pre inserted sticky tabs so your guests don’t have get messy with a glue stick.

Video messaging functionality

Video messaging functionality can be great especially if you don’t already have a camera-man on the day and want to capture some fun live action! Things to consider though are that video messaging does take up a lot more time than just getting photos taken in the photobooth and will result in relatively less photostrips (close to 30% less photo strips) than if you didn’t have this feature. Also think about the likelihood of you actually watching the videos later. Most people will sit down and look at a filled guest-book as its readily accessible whereas the videos may not receive that much future attention. You need to weigh up the worth of this before deciding you definitely have to have it.

Terms and conditions

As you’re most likely going to be booking months or years in advance it’s very important you read the Ts and Cs before handing over any money. Most operators will require a deposit at time of booking with the balance not due until closer to the date. Be sure to read the fine print and understand what portion of the money you pay is non-refundable as this differs greatly from operator to operator. It might also be handy to see if you can pay your booth hire off over time in instalments so you’re not hit with all the big expenses at once.

Summary

A professional photobooth isn’t always cheap but it is worth it. Unlike other aspects of your wedding’s set up this is the item that keeps on giving long after your special day is over. Be sure to research thoroughly before you decide on the right one, and you can’t go wrong. Your guests will thank you for it!

3.2.1……. Smile!

Flashback Photobooths provide high quality photo booths for private and corporate clients in Sydney, Regional NSW, Melbourne and Brisbane (including Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast), and have earned a reputation for a friendly, professional and reliable service. Producing high-quality colour, sepia or black and white, double print photo strips in seconds, Flashback Photobooths provide essential fun for all events including weddings, formals, birthdays, corporate events and product launches.

Contact us at www.flashbackphotobooths.com.au