Although photo booths are usually reserved for weddings or other high-end events, a DIY photo booth is also a fun addition to your little one’s party. Let’s face it, most of us don’t hire professional photographers to capture birthdays, and parents are left to capture the precious moments.
A DIY party photo booth is a simple way to get shots of your little one’s special day without taking time from the fun yourself. It’s a great way to help your guests (grown-ups and kids alike) break the ice and get creative. Plus, you won’t have to worry about party favors when guests can take home a unique picture of themselves.
The best thing about DIY photo booths is that you need almost no experience with photography or crafting. You can go all out with décor or keep it simple with a backdrop. You can also accentuate your party’s theme by adding props to keep the kids (and parents!) entertained for hours.
First, assess your building and crafting skills and how much time and effort you’re willing to commit. There are many possibilities with a DIY photo booth, but you don’t want to bite off more than you can chew.
Choosing Your Camera
You can’t have a photo booth without a camera, so it’s important to take a moment and consider what you’ll use. What kind of camera you use will depend on what you already have, your budget, and what is age-appropriate for your guests.
One popular option for photo booths is to use a DSLR camera. DSLR cameras can be quite pricey, but they will produce the highest quality photographs. While you can adjust settings such as aperture and shutter speed, you can easily set the camera to choose these settings with every click automatically.
If you don’t need DSLR options and prefer a less bulky camera, you could also use a digital camera. Digital cameras are cheaper and much more beginner-friendly to use than DSLR cameras.
Another fun option is to use an instant photo camera, like a Polaroid or the popular Fujifilm Instax Mini.
FUJIFILM INSTAX Mini 11 is a sleek and fun instant camera that produces credit card-sized prints. It automatically adjusts for different lighting and has built-in flash for low-light conditions.
These cameras add some vintage flair and a pop of personality to the finished product. They’re also easy to use! Plus, what kid doesn’t love watching a photo develop in real-time?
Would you believe me if I told you that you don’t even need a camera for your DIY photo booth? It’s true! One option is to ditch the camera altogether and have parents use their smartphones to snap selfies and portraits with the photo booth as a backdrop. You could also use an old smartphone or tablet that you’re not currently using.
Depending on what kind of camera you use, it is essential to consider what you’ll do with the photos, and where they will be stored to access them. Keep reading for more tips on this!
What kind of materials you need will depend on your space and the type of camera you choose to use. Here’s a list of things you might consider:
- DIY or store-bought backdrop
- Paper tape or temporary hooks and fasteners
- A photo album or other storage solution
- Camera (optional)
- Tripod stand (optional)
- Photo printer (optional)
- DIY or store-bought props (optional)
- Lighting (optional)
- Small chalkboards or poster paper and writing utensils (optional)
Putting it All Together
Once you decide how “all-out” you want to go and choose the camera you will use, it’s time to start thinking about the details and putting it all together.
Step 1: Pick a theme
Chances are that your little one already has some themes in mind for the party. A photo booth can mirror the theme of the party or complement it. For example, a princess party can feature a throne photo booth, and an ocean party can have a shark diving photo booth. Don’t be afraid to get creative!
Step 2: Find the perfect spot
There are a couple of factors to consider in choosing the best spot for the photo booth. You want the photo booth to be close to the party’s action, but not so close that excited crowds of kids will bump and bang the equipment.
You’ll also want to consider a place where you have space to easily hang a backdrop, such as a wall unless you plan to make or purchase a backdrop stand. If you need to plug in the camera or other devices, make sure you have access to a plug.
Step 3: Choose and hang a backdrop
Once you have a theme and an idea of where you want to hang a backdrop, you can make your own or purchase one online. You have a lot of wiggle room here. You can go bold and colorful, or simple and sweet. It all depends on your style and theme!
If you’re hanging your backdrop on a wall, it is best to use temporary fasteners and hooks to avoid damage. You can also purchase a support stand or repurpose free-standing room dividers.
Step 4: Add fun props
Solidify your theme and keep the laughter going by adding plenty of props to get the kids’ imaginations going. From silly accessories to funny signs, there are so many prop kits available for purchase.
You can even create your own box of props! For example, a shark diving photo booth could feature toy sharks, scuba gear, and a one-dimensional “cage” to hide behind.
Step 5: Create a storage area
There are several options for storing your photo booth snapshots. If you are using a photo printer or a camera that prints, you can have guests glue prints into an album and leave a note for the kid of honor.
Another option is to create a space to hang the photos. You can hang pictures with pushpins on a corkboard or with hanging twine and clothespins.
If you are not printing photos, you will need a virtual option. Many people use a specific Instagram hashtag to be able to find party photos easily. A more private option is a virtual album app, such as DropEvent.
Step 6: Leave instructions for your guests
Make sure that all the grown-ups are on the same page by leaving instructions for guests at the photo booth. Make sure that they know where to put the photos and how to use the equipment.
You can relay this message without being the photo booth guardian by leaving a note on a chalkboard or poster.
Step 7: Test the lighting and equipment
Of course, you absolutely must test your technical set up before the party, especially if you have multiple devices, such as a digital camera and a printer. Making sure the process is smooth and easy for your guests will save you a lot of work during the party.
As you’re testing your equipment, also consider whether your pictures are too dark. If so, you can add a few standing lamps or purchase inexpensive lighting kits.
What to Do if Technology Fails
If the tech run doesn’t go smoothly, and your stress level is hitting the roof, don’t fret! Even if disaster strikes during the party, consider a lower-tech option. Remember that you can always use smartphones to capture pictures and store them in a virtual photo album.
The most important thing to remember is to enjoy this milestone with your kiddo and have fun! Your little one won’t remember if you couldn’t get the camera to work, but they will remember how special you made them feel.