A First Timer’s Journal, My First Photo Booth Gig

I am writing this the morning after my first photo booth event as an AAR (After Action Review),  so I don’t forget what I learned and what I need to tweak for my future events.  I hope that you find this “entertaining and instructive”.

Let me summarize the event quickly.  IT WAS A HIT!  The event was from 5:30-7:30PM, when my daughter and I got home from the event at 8:45, my wife had already received a call from her mother, who had received a call from someone who had been at the event, they said “how much better  the quality of the prints were than other booths she had seen recently at several events”.

I learned a LOT by doing this event.  The following is what I learned in no particular order.

It took me 6 trips to get the equipment into the event.  It took me 4 to get it out.  The next time I think I can do it in 3, 2 possibly if the doors are wide enough!

Bring DOOR STOPs.  This sounds so simple, but when you are trying to bring in $1000 printer, you don’t want the door slamming into it if you don’t have anybody to hold the door for you!

Packing the van (2010 Town & Country) was interesting.  I had NO space left in the van, except the driver’s seat when packing for the event.  On the way back, I had to have a seat for my daughter who was dropped off at the event but now needed a seat to go home.  A re-thinking of the packing, made more than enough room.

I had too many “bags” of STUFF with me, I will consolidate a couple of the bags, (tools and extra computer accessories) to help with this.

The Rock n Roller R10 cart was AWESOME!  It is because of this site that I chose that cart.  Many thanks!

DRIVE RIGHT UP TO THE DOOR, STUPID!!!!!!!  I pulled up to the curb and unloaded.  I thought it might be rude to jump the curb and back up to the door.  I watched the DJ do this and no one said anything.  It would have cut my unloading/loading time by 10 minutes because of the extra distance I had to travel.
It took me 1 hour and 10 minutes to set up, 45 minutes to tear down.  This will continue to get better with practice.

My daughter was a huge help.  I stuck her in a seat by the printer opening.  She was in charge of the prints and the business cards.  I had problems with kids wanting to grab the prints until I put her in a chair there.  After that, it was not a problem.  My daughter is a “rule follower”.  Nobody was going to get those strips without her “say-so”;o)  She did not hand kids business cards, only the adults.

I had several guests ask me specifically for business cards.  Four of which had upcoming events that they wanted to talk to me about.  There is a possibility that I might have scored an event for next week.
The DJ came up to me and asked for several cards, he stated that he does a ton of Christmas parties that were looking for “something different”.  Make a concerted effort to talk to all the other vendors at the event, you never know where your next contact might come from!

I need to make an Open / Closed sign for the booth (for booth maintenance), I also need to a sign that has the times for the booth to be open and closed for the event.  This would cut down on the “Are you open?” and “Have you closed, yet?” questions.

I did not use the touchscreen as a touchscreen, only as a monitor.  I fired the booth for each session using an RF remote.  I really liked it.  It allowed me to meet and greet every guest and to foster relationships with the “repeaters” (repeat guests).  I don’t think I would have been able to talk to as many people if they would have fired the booth themselves.

The session was configured for a 3 picture format.  We were able to do 173 sessions in 2 hours and 15 minutes.  This would not have been achievable without my facilitation of the booth sequence.

The monitor outside the booth that showed what was going on inside the booth was a huge hit!  This monitor really helped “train” the guests waiting to use the booth.

I had no social kiosk or picture gallery at this event.  At this point, I am not sure how I am going to go with that.  Tablet vs touchscreen vs LCD projector vs combination of the three, there are a several ways to go.

I have got to make a travel case for the printer!  I am going to check with a local road case maker to see what it would cost me to have him make the case vs what I can make it for.  I have lots of ABS left from the booth build.  I will make it big enough to hold extra media as well.  For this event, I “seat-belted” the printer to the front seat.  I don’t want to do that again.

For those of you newbies out there that are where I was less than 24 hours ago, I say, “KEEP AT IT!!!”  I have come to realize that there are just some parameters of this business that you can’t plan or design for until you have done it at least once.  There were times that I got myself bogged down in minute details that after last night, made so much more sense and now realize too much time was wasted trying to figure them out with no data or experience to solve.  MY ADVICE TO YOU IS GET YOUR BOOTH BUILT AND DO AN EVENT!  PERIOD!  Pro-bono, if you have too.  The minute details will fall into place when you have some data to go by.

For those of you looking for a time line on how long it took me to get into the business, here you go.   From the day I first thought about adding a photobooth service to my existing computer consultation company after talking to a good friend of mine who was getting married this summer and wanted a booth at her wedding, to developing  a business plan, to designing the booth, and then joining this site, it was just shy of a month.  Once the first of a long line of shipments of materials arrived in the mail, it took almost three months to the day of my first event to complete the booth and all its accessories.  So this was about a 4 month adventure for me.  I had several schedule delays because, well…“LIFE HAPPENS”.   I built what I consider to be a very professional “manufactured looking” booth for about ½ the amount of a commercially available booth.  I also believe my print quality is one of the highest in my market from my research.

To all you veterans on this site, thank you for all the advice and wisdom you have helped with over the past several months.  Last night would not have become a reality without the help from this SITE.  THANK YOU.

 


 

lucktech photoboothsJon Luckey has been a middle school business teacher for 15 years and a small business / residential computer consultant with a specialty in geriatric computing services for 13 years (Luckey Technologies).  Jon is happily married to Elizabeth and they have two daughters.


Jon was raised on a large dairy farm operation in Northeastern Indiana.  He holds degrees and licenses in Elementary Education, Social Studies Education and Computer Education.   In February 2012, Jon had his 20th Anniversary as an Amateur Radio Operator ("ham") with an FCC Amateur Extra Class license.  LUCKTECH PHOTOBOOTHS is a service of Luckey Technologies and services areas within a 100 mile radius of Fort Wayne, IN.


 

  • vegaswolf

    nice share!!!,I'm about there also,just did a Valentines Party for my friends friend,it was my first one,boy did I learn alot.It went well but I know what you mean about the kids and the prints,they would all run to the printer after the shots.I too got the R12 cart,what a life saver.This site has helped me out so much as I'm in it almost 5 months now and launching my site this week.I hope to get better with time,Robert

  • Bob H

    my Kingdom Photo Booth is 2 pieces (plus drapes and printer)and fits nicely in my 2010 Kia Soul

    only takes 2 trips with a GruvGear dolly and I'm set up in 5-10 min total..love it good luck to you in future jobs, its a great industry!! Bob Raleigh,NC

    • LiZDOT

      Hi Bob, we are looking at starting a photo booth business. To buy or to create, that is the question. Having just looked at the Kingdom booths I would be interested in your opinion and which one to begin with... if any.

  • Minh

    Door stoppers, why didn't I think of this lol

  • DianeM

    Thanks for the post Jon! I totally relate when you mention all the trips back and forth to the car! That is such a pain! Before I built my road-case style Photobooths, I had so many boxes and parts to haul in and out. I designed the road case booth right after an event in in a pavillion the middle of a public park. No vehicle acces. I hauled all the parts in, and when it was over some of the guests offered to help me haul things back to the car. Their suggestion of getting enough people to move it all in one trip was great--i counted the people as we were walking to the car--it took 11 people! It made me rethink the design and the time I was wasting in setting up and breaking down. Add that to the packing the car and unpacking it when you get home. You are correct-- we learn and perfect as we go!

  • Glad to hear your first event was a success! We started out doing charity events (Relay for Life, local zoo) last year and used those to build up our confidence for bigger events like wedding receptions. The charity events were nice because there was very little pressure and it gave us a chance to iron a lot of the kinks out of our procedures and our equipment. Our booth is in two pieces, and both pieces are on wheels - tilt back and roll like a hand truck - which has been very handy.

    One of the things that we didn't have early on were large signs - we were just printing them out on our laser printer at home - and we got lots of feedback like "there was a photo booth at the event"? We ordered some 24x36" banners from EmpireBanners.com and noticed that we got a lot more attention! The other thing that made a big difference in our business was promotion - we took part in a local bridal show this year, and we're booked every weekend from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

  • poseandpout

    Great post John, we're almost at the same stage as you and sounds like exactly the same experiences. Took 3 months to get from deciding to go ahead with the venture to building. We launched in January and did our first party for a friemd two weeks later. Afterwards I redesign the booth slightly, and also built a new seperate box which holds the printer, laptop and spare media, which they all stay in during use. This saves alot of setting up time as all the wires are already plugged in inside the box. Just need to connect 4 wires when in place and job done. So far we have 4 other bookings and more potentials. good luck with your venture! James

  • It truly is a great post. Anyone interested in sharing their experiencing please contact me and let's share them with the community!

  • Serena

    I just had my first event last night and i used your experience as a guide.. thank you..and.. IT WAS A HIT!!

  • eggwhite

    I just found this site, and this is the first post I read!

    Wow it was just the thing to help me continue my pursuits. I've been under construction for a month now and see light at the end of the tunnel but also started to get lost in the minute details. You encouraged me to push on and get-r-done and get-r-going! Thanks! I'll look into joining this group too!

  • Ron

    Iam also geting ready to build my booth can you email me direct I have a few questions I would like to ask you. You can reach me at Ronpinerophotography@gmail.com Thank you and it was a Great Post.

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