How to Set Up a DIY Photobooth (It's easy AND fun!)

How to Set Up a DIY Photobooth

How to Set Up a DIY Photobooth

One of my talented & uber-crafty friends Rebekah Apotre wrote this tutorial about how to set up a DIY photobooth. She’s been running some summer camps and has been doing some really fun photobooths with the kids as a part of it. I LOVE her tips and wanted to share!

A DIY Photobooth is a fun and easy way to add a personal touch to any party or gathering.  This is my favorite way to capture friends and family having fun, acting silly and smiling, like really smiling. Ditch the formal family photos, grab some props, your camera and shoot away.

How to Set Up a DIY Photobooth

Before the Photobooth day gather a few things and prepare with some basic equipment to make this project easy to set up and the photos easy to share.

Easy photo sharing– I use Flickr where I upload the photos. You can set the viewing permissions if you don’t want the photos to be public and just share them with family and friends.

Camera + Tripod (optional)– I use a Nikon D40, but you can use whatever digital camera you have. I like to use a tripod as so can adjust the height and invite kids to snap a few photos too.

Photo Printer– if you have guests who will want to take home photos, or you want to print them out and leave them as party favors (great for b-day parties) a simple photo printer like the Canon SELPHY is my recommendation.  I did a photo booth for my friends wedding and printed out photos for the guests, which made the best wedding present (a direct quote from the bride).

Extra tools to make it even easier– get yourself a remote for your camera so you can capture yourself in some shots, your guests can use it too and free you up to enjoy the fun. I got mine on Ebay for about $4.  The Eye-Fi wireless memory card makes uploading photos to your computer and Flickr automatic.

Backgrounds– I’ve used a number of different things for photo backgrounds and they set the mood and ground your photos, adding color and theme.

Family gathering such as an anniversary– vintage quilts hand made by family members are a precious way to add a sentimental touch

Theme Weddings and Parties– use a thrifted sheet and pin up star decorations, or inexpensive party decorations

Outside or Causal events– use a colorful printed vinyl shower curtain or printed fabric

Seasonal Parties– wrapping paper, flags, streamers are easy to find and easy to string up or tack up on a wall. In the photo above I used a roll of cute wrapping paper taped up on a closet door.

Props– I’m always on the look out for fun photo booth props. Halloween, Mardi Gras and Easter are the best time to stock up on silly stuff. I have made some of my props too and I store everything in a vintage suit case to keep everything in one place.

My list of must have props:

Hillbilly teeth, funny sunglasses, lots of silly wigs, mustache on a stick, feather boas, pirate hook, dry erase speech bubbles or mini chalkboards for people to write messages on, scarves, funny hats, fake bloody knives, clown nose, nerd glasses, devil horns, angel wings, and of course anything oversized.

Extra special props can include: large picture frames, cool vintage lawn chairs, large beach balls, vintage cameras, guitar or ukelele, and any handmade props

Tips for taking great photos:

Note- I didn’t edit or crop most of these photos so you can check out my set up. I put up a shower curtain on a swing set and held it in place with some wood planks.

Feel free to direct your subjects, but also let people do their thing and have fun interacting with each other in front of the camera.

A great way to keep people in front of your camera is to suggest actions : “Jump! Keep jumping! Throw your props in the air! Everyone switch wigs! Switch again!”

– I love asking people to pose and “Work it!” , ”Love the camera!”  I’m always surprised when I put on a Zoolander type voice and people of all ages respond with the best poses and faces.

– Keep it moving: if you sense a lull in the action tell people to get in front of the camera.

–  Groups of friends will naturally find their own ways to use props. In a group setting don’t try force people who don’t know each other into a photo together

– Set your camera shooting mode from single frame to Continuous so you can shoot many photos quickly.  Check out digital photography school to learn more about shooting modes and other cool camera stuff!

– Hold the camera in a position that you can get good photos and start to click away, but look away and talk to someone beside you. Your subjects will be acting silly and posing, thinking you aren’t taking photos. This is a great way to get amazing photos of shy people, especially kids.

–  If you are using a DSLR with an adjustable lens, set your shooting mode to auto, but your lens to manual. This allows you to keep shooting and get the proper exposure and focus super close to your subject or further away especially if you want to capture a lot of action quickly, use this in conjunction with continuous shooting mode for awesome “live action” shots!

– If at all possible use natural light. I prefer to shoot outside or by a large window so I don’t have to use my flash. I actually don’t really know how to get really beautiful photos’ with flash/ low light/ night time. I’m hoping to be able to learn more about lighting and flash photography this winter.

Editing and Sharing your photos

– The photo editing tools I use most are the cropping and re-sizing features. I was taught from a teacher who’s philosophy was that a good photo is taken, not edited to look like it’s a good photo.  Because I come from film photography background, I remain a purist when it comes to taking the perfect picture in my camera.


After with cropping:

– you can order prints online right from Flickr and many other photo sharing sites like Photobucket and Picassa.

– upload photos to Facebook and Flickr to share

burn photos onto disks and send them out to friends and family as a thank you for attending your event

– if you like to scrapbook, you can create keepsakes and add photos from your photo booth.

Each time I do a photo booth I fall more in love with my camera, photography and the amazing tools available online. Doing photography this way has built my confidence and made me much less shy about taking photos of people.

You can check out the rest of my photo booth photos on Flickr

A big thanks to Rebekah for letting me re-post this fabulous tutorial! 

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