How to make a diy photo booth

I finally had a chance to pull together a little tutorial on how to make a diy photo booth like the one at my daughter’s Broadway themed birthday party.

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diy photo booth

 

It was really quite easy and inexpensive, and Miss G was so happy with how it all turned out.

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diy photo booth photo strip

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Photo booths are pretty trendy right now, so I knew I couldn’t be the only one crazy enough to think I could make one on my own! I did some research, and then came up with a plan for creating a diy photo booth that met our particular needs – i.e., one that could withstand the acrobatics of 10 tween-aged girls!

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diy photo booth sign

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Here’s what I used (the important stuff, anyway):

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  • Backdrop material: 3 cute plastic tablecloths from the Dollar Store!
  • Props: a basket of masks, mustaches, hats, etc.
  • Camera: my DSLR mounted on a tripod, with a shutter release remote.
  • Photo booth decor – string lights, cardboard chandelier, etc.
  • Poster board for the ‘Photo Booth Rules’
  • A bench

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diy photo booth props

 

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First things first: the backdrop.

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I decided to set up the diy photo booth in our basement mudroom since it’s a long and narrow space. You can get a sense of it in the following photo.  Unfortunately, it meant covering up the door, but it’s not our main entrance and was still easily accessible. If you don’t have a narrow space like this, I think you could easily just set up a backdrop (without covering the sides) on any wall in your home.  Just make it wide enough that you don’t get any wall in the shot, or move your tripod in closer. Covering the side walls here just decreased the chances of getting empty walls in the pictures.

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diy photo booth backdrop

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I wanted to do this as inexpensively as possible since it was just for a birthday party, so I opted to create the diy photo booth backdrop from 3 large (9ft) plastic table cloths.  They cost $6 total, gotta love it. I doubled them over so that you couldn’t see through them, and attached them to the ceiling using painter’s tape to make it easy to take it down without ruining the paint.

. backdrop for diy photo booth

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They worked perfectly fine, however the plastic did cast a bit of glare in the photos, so if you have a bigger budget (say, for a wedding), I’d definitely recommend using fabric as your backdrop.

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I dug the black and white polka dots, but to make the photo booth background even more pretty, I strung some white lights, and hung up a cute little pink holographic chandelier I found at Michaels.

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diy photo booth decor

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I also decorated the space with Broadway musical posters since the birthday party had a Broadway theme.

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diy photo booth Broadway decorations

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Next things next: the camera

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OK, so now your diy photo booth is simply gorgeous.  But what about the photos, right? Well, the choice you’ll need to make is whether you want the booth to be ‘manned’ (or womanned, lol) by a photographer, or whether you’ll put your camera on a tripod. I decided to use a tripod because (a) I have a tripod (b) I had other things to worry about at the party than playing photographer ;-), and finally: (c) I think participants let their guard down when there’s no photographer yelling “say cheese!”.  And that means you’ll get goofier, funnier photos which is what a photo booth is all about!  Case in point:

 

diy photo booth with tripod .

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Whatever route you choose, you’ll want to think about lighting, especially if your photo booth doesn’t get much natural light. Miss G’s party was in the evening and in our basement which gets little natural light at the best of times.  However, I was reluctant to use a flash because I’m really not a fan of the harsh shadows that a flash can cause. So I added some ambient lighting with a little lamp on the prop table, and the string of lights on the backdrop. That was actually enough, and I didn’t need to add my flash or spot lighting.  But because every space has it’s own variables, I’d recommend testing out different lighting scenarios in advance of your actual event. If you do need to use a flash, I’d definitely use a diffuser to soften up the shadows.

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diy photo booth lighting

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If you opt to go the tripod route which is what I did, you’ll want to invest in a nifty little $25 accessory for your DSLR that I had no idea about until I started looking into how to make a diy photo booth!  It’s a remote control that releases the shutter on your camera, called a remote shutter release.  I mean seriously, I take a gazillion photos…how did I not know about something so utterly fantastical?

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remote shutter release for diy photo booth

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I should mention that this thing is smaller than an Apple TV remote (if that’s even possible), so if you don’t want to lose it in the midst of all the photo booth fun, I’d recommend doing something like this which worked like a charm…

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diy photo booth remote control

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To get the remote shutter release to work, once your camera is on the tripod, you’ll need to change your DSLR’s settings to remote shooting mode.  You’re thinking, “Say wha?”, aren’t ya?  I thought the same thing when I read about it, but it was simple.

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On my Nikon, I clicked my ‘Menu’ button, and then selected ‘Shooting Mode’.  I scrolled down and then selected Quick Response Mode. This meant that the photo would be captured immediately once a photo booth participant clicked the remote. (I don’t know what the settings would be for a Canon, but I’m sure you’d find an answer with a quick Google search.) When photo booth subjects came into to space, they’d grab the remote, get situated on the bench, get goofy, and click when they were ready to take the pic. It seriously was as easy as that.

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Before you decide on the final spot for the tripod, have somebody be your test participant. Find the perfect height and position for the tripod to get your best shots.  If the subjects are going to sit on a bench, make sure your tripod is at that height. Just sayin’. ‘Cause I can’t imagine the disappointment of reviewing your diy photo booth pics after the party, only to find that you’ve over-shot everybody’s faces!

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Also, I highly recommend taping down your tripod to the floor, especially if you are dealing with excited kids.  That’s a whole lotta camera sitting atop your tripod, so you’ll want to protect it.(OK, so maybe I overdid with the tape, ya think?!?)

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tripod for diy photo booth

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The really fun part: The Props!

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Once I had all that technical stuff figured out, I got to the super fun stuff: organizing the props!  Since our daughter has been amassing a collection of costumes since she was little, it wasn’t hard to find a bunch of great stuff around the house.  But also purchased a few at the Dollar Store and Michaels, and I couldn’t resist making some mustaches-on-a-stick. I organized everything on a little table so that you could find a prop you liked without too much searching.

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diy photo booth props table

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. diy photo booth mustache

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diy props for photo booth

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The necessary part: Photo Booth Rules!

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I wanted the photo booth to be fun, but let’s face it, I wanted my camera equipment in one piece after the party. As well, I didn’t want any of the girls feeling left out. So I put together a few photo booth rules for the ‘rule-follower’-types, and hoped they’d help sheriff the others, lol.

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photo booth rules .

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Last things last: Photo Viewing

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I racked my brain trying to figure out how I might display or process the photos during the party so that the girls could see them before they went home.  There were certainly a few feasible options, like tethering my laptop to the camera. But ultimately, I decided that I’d have to be superwoman to make that happen with everything else I had on my plate (food, games, etc.).  So instead, I opted for a less stressful alternative.

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I reviewed the photos over the following few days, and did some light cropping of the ones that were off-center . Then I put them all together in a little slide show using Windows Movie Maker, uploaded it to my Drop Box, and e-mailed the link to the party participants.  It was a fun little party memento that Miss G will surely cherish.  I also plan to put the photos in a little album for her.

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,To make the photo strips, I simply grouped photos of with the same particpants, and used a photo editing program like PicMonkey to pull them into a collage.

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So there you have it: everything you need to know about how to make a diy photo booth!  This is such a fun idea for any occasion – birthdays, weddings, family reunions, and more.  I promise you’ll end up with truly memorable photos!

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Did I leave anything out?  If you have questions, I’ll try my very best to answer them.  Just shoot me a line in the comments section!

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.Until next time,

Kerri

 

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Comments

  1. Thanks so much for this tutorial! It was really helpful. I’m planning to make a photobooth for a charity op-shop ball, and I’m so glad I found an easy tutorial. All the other ones I found had me setting up an umbrella and a flash–WAY to complicated!

  2. what is the printing situation with these pictures.

    • Hi Dani

      Because this photo booth was for my daughter’s birthday party, I didn’t set up ‘real-time’ printing; I simply printed them after the fact. But I’ve seen other tutorials out there on how to set up a printing station for events like weddings and things. Try googling it – I hope you find something that is helpful. ~Kerri

  3. Thank you for sharing your info! I used it for my son’s 16th birthday party this weekend. It was a huge hit!!!

    Thanks so much!

  4. I am unable to see your photos. please help…..

  5. What are your thoughts on connecting a printer? I am thinking about using it for my guest book for my wedding/photobooth during the wedding and want them to be printed? I may just need to keep them on the computer and do something different for the guest book, but I would love your opinion!
    Thanks!

    • I think I read about ways to achieve this while researching diy photo booths, but I decided to keep it simple as I was also running a birthday party at the same time. I’m sure if you google it, you might find a tutorial on how to do this seamlessly. However, the more technology you add, the greater the chances that something will ‘go wrong’, and I don’t think I’d want that worry on my wedding day. It might be better to keep in simple? Kerri

  6. Yahoo! Thanks for this cheap and easy tutorial! I’m making a photo booth for my upcoming ugly sweater christmas party. I want it to be THE party of the year, this will definitely put me in the ranks!! The other tutorials I read were very complicated and had you making an actual, physical photo booth..what the heck would I do with it afterwards?! Store it in the garage and tick my husband off with yet another fun little tool taking up valuable car space?! Thanks a mil!

  7. do you think I can use a nikon shutter release for a canon camera? Or do I need a canon one and if so, do they sell them for canon?

    • Hmmm…I’m not sure about that. Does Canon have a version? It’s probably best to ask a camera professional, or consult the Canon web site. Sorry I can’t be of more assistance! ~Kerri

  8. Stephanie says:

    OMG! Just made one of these for our annual Halloween party last night! Such a hit and so easy to make. Thanks for your prep work and for sharing it with everyone. We had a ball!!

  9. Love this idea! I have a Nikon DSLR as well, although mine has an auto shut-off after so long?? Did you have any problems with that?

    • Hi Kerri! I have the same question with the ML-L3 remote!

      The longest you can set “Remote On” for Nikon is 15 minutes, once the time expires, you have to reset the camera to detect the remote again. The camera does that to save batteries, but it’s not the greatest feature if / when I need the booth to be ready to go for an entire evening where there might be long periods of inactivity.

      Did you have the same problem and how did you solve it?

  10. How much did this cost to make?

    • I’m not exactly certain, but it wasn’t much (less than $75?), as long as you have the right camera equipment already. The only real costs were the Dollar Store table cloths and the props which you can find or make inexpensively.

  11. You rock! Thank you I will do this for my wedding

  12. I literally let out an audible squeal! This looks like sooo much fun :)

    Can’t wait to meet you at Haven.

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