Photo Booths
Article thanks to Lauren Sargeant Bride Online Columnist

How to: Hiring a Photobooth

Opting to hire a photobooth ensures two things when it comes to your wedding: a) pure, unadulterated entertainment, and b) fab photos for you to include in your photo album(s). But the significance of these booths isn't that it simply provides these outcomes, but that it guarantees them at such a high quality. The kind of entertainment that these booths allow is completely determined by you- meaning that it really is a unique experience that everyone's bound to enjoy. The photos themselves will also not just be 'more of the same' wedding photos, but will help to give you a more detailed and well-rounded feel of what your wedding celebrations were like, for years down the road. 

With no photographer watching, users feel uninhibited within the safe confines of the booth, allowing them to be silly and more expressive than with a live photographer. With the help of a prop box full of wigs, silly glasses and hats even the most serious of people will loosen up and thoroughly enjoy themselves. What you end up with is some of the most fun and candid pictures you'll ever see of your friends and family. 

So where and how do you begin the hunt for the right photobooth for you?

Find Out What's Available and Narrow Down What's Right For You 

Sweep the local market, and find out which companies offer which variety of photo booth. Do your research about what styles and functions are available, and get to know what your preference is. The best way of determining this- as counterintuative as it sounds- is to completely disregard your budget. Once you feel you've got a good idea of what's on offer, make a list of your absolute essentials. This should include both 'must haves' and 'cannot haves', as well as your desired features that you're more willing to be flexible about.

Find Companies Whose Products Match Your Needs 

Speak to any sales consultant about your 'essentials' list, and find out which options would be appropriate for you.  Now's the time to compare price points!

Do Your Background Checks

Ask your potential hirees for references, portfolios, examples of pictures, testimonies, and anything else to help you put your mind at ease that you'll be dealing with a reliable, professional company. Look online for less controlled references, and pay attention to details that can easily be glossed over by the company itself, such as whether the company is easy to work with, communicates well, is timely, etc. Dealing with a difficult vendor will often sour the whole experience, and impact on your wedding day. See our list of photobooth vendors for some of the most reliable and high quality service in the country. Additionally, check out the operators' ABN (Australian Business Number) to see whether the business is registered and how long they' ve been operating for.

Get the Details of the Photo Booth Right 

Photo booths come in a wide range of styles and set ups, so make sure you know exactly what you're booking before you book it.

Some of the more popular setups include:

- Automated machines placed within a closed off booth 
- Automated machines that have a privacy curtain hanging in the place of booth walls
- Automated machines that are placed within an inflatible room
- Operated by a cameraman, within a small booth where curtains are used instead of walls
- Operated by a cameraman, within a larger area of space, such a marquee

Although it goes without saying, consider how much venue space the photobooth, guest book's table and props will take up, and how that'll impact on the night as a whole. If you're tight on space but set on having a photobooth, consider hiring out another small room or area near your reception venue, if at all possible, or even placing the photobooth outside if you have access to a close-by outlet and weather permitting. 

Many photo booths come with minimal decorations, interchangeable coloured covers or curtains, and even interchangeable backdrops. Ask if the vendor provides this or any similar service to help you to personalise the booth for your wedding. 

Choose your features

Almost no two photo booths offer the exact features, so take the time to make sure that you get exactly what you want. Some aspects to think about include:

- Does it print and cut duplicate photostrips each time?
- Can you play around with the photos before printing them? Can you add text, little illustrations, or change the photo's background?
- Does it offer the user the choice of colour and black/white photostrips as standard? Can this be changed if desired?
- 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?
- Does it have an interactive monitor so the user knows what's happening, and most importantly they can see themselves in frame during the photo taking process?
- Do their photo-albums require an attendant to glue the strips into the photo album, or are the albums set up with pre inserted sticky tabs so that this isn’t an issue?
- Does the operator take care of all the venue liaison or is that up to me?
- How fast is the print cycle and how many photostrips can I expect for my hire?
- Can it take videos in addition to photographs?

Read your fine print before signing a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g!

As you're more than likely going to be booking months in advance, it's very important you read and agree with the operator's terms and conditions before booking or making payment. Most operators will require a deposit at time of booking with the balance due shortly before your hire. Be sure to read the fine print and be aware of what portion of the money you pay at any given time is non-refundable, as this differs greatly from operator to operator. If you'd feel more comfortable, ask if there is an option to pay your photo booth hire off in instalments to ensure that you're not hit with all the big expenses at once.

Hints and Tips:

- Biggest isn't always best. Part of the fun of a photo booth is having small groups take photos individually. This often encourages less reserved behaviour, has a more intimate feel, and will allow you to give individuals more attention in photos than you would them in a big group shot.

- People tend to be less inhibited when faced with an automated machine, as opposed to a photographer. Pick your preference according to how formal your event will be, and how you expect most of your guests to react. 

- People tend to make most use of the photobooth towards the end of the night, so don't pressure any of your guests to make use of the booth. Their true feelings about not wanting to be in the photo will show up on camera.

- If an attendant doesn't automatically come with the photo booth, consider hiring one. They'll ensure that neither the photo booth nor the props are damaged (potentially saving you big bucks down the line), can cut and paste the photos into your album, both set and pack up the booth and props before and after the event. If you are interested in hiring an attendant, inquire about their age- many teens are hired for this very purpose, and there may be an issue with having an underage attendant at an alcoholic event. 

-Copies of all the photostrips are normally saved on CD or USB for the hirer to keep afterwards. As standard, some operators also include in their wedding packages the option of a guest-book; whereby users place one copy of the photostrip (proper photobooths print two identical copies of each photostrip) in the album and leave a message with the gold and silver pens provided. A guest book makes for the most amazing keepsake and is something brides and grooms alike will cherish forever.

- Consider how necessary a video feature is if you've already got a videographer taping the reception. Videos can clog up the photo booth, which can result in less photos being taken, and are often not actually watched after the wedding day. This tends to be a more expensive feature, so think long and hard before you decide on opting for it. 

Although a luxury when it comes to wedding planning, the photo booth is absolutely one of those gifts that keep on giving. But be sure to do your research to not only get the best bang for your buck, but to feel good about your choice, long after your wedding day is over. You'll not only appreciate the work you put in, but your guests will thank you for it!

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