• Ajay Manaktala

Photo Booth Guide for your Big Fat Wedding

Ajay Manaktala is owner of Special Occasions DJ & Lighting and one of the first to bring photo booths to greater Los Angeles and Southern California weddings. He's an expert at weddings, corporate events and of course, Big Fat Indian weddings.



Wait What is a Photo Booth?


A Photo booth is a dedicated photo area or portable studio complete with props, lighting and printing that gives guests an instant memory from your special occasions.


They are very common, usually at about 75% of the weddings and corporate functions we do.






Why Should I have a Photo Booth?


Photo Booths have become an integral part of any culture's weddings.


To be honest, a photo booth is more for your guests than you.

You'll likely have a wedding photographer following you around, but the main reason we love and recommend photo booths to our clients:



  • They're valuable because in this age of digital, people get a printed memento immediately.

  • Not everybody is super sociable so it loosens people up and increases the comradery amongst friends.

  • It has a high social factor for Instagram and more. (e.g. Engagement, likes, comments and use of your wedding hasthag increase exponentially when a photo booth prompts them to share).

  • Ideal for families and long lost friends.

  • Something different from alcohol, dinner and dancing. (It actually helps with the dance floor later).

  • Customized signs and props give people common factors to bond over (e.g. teasing the bride and groom), a couple who might be having a baby or "You guys are next!" type of signs.



Types of Photo Booths


The most common types of photo booths are:


  • Open air (like your elementary school photographer in an open area)

  • Closed (self explanatory, tiny space, intimate)

  • Slow motion and green screen, which we find aren't used as often but server their space in higher end corporate functions or media events. (e.g. a phone launch or App event).




1. Should you get an open air photobooth or enclosed photobooth?


An open air photobooth generally consists of a backdrop and a structure placed in front of it which holds a camera to take photos.


The benefits of this include allowing more people in the photo!


It also creates a fun atmosphere for guests waiting in line as they can observe what others are doing which can be a party in it self. 

An enclosed photobooth is more private, and depending on the type a sleeker presence on site, but also give guests privacy.


Maybe 2 love birds want to share a kiss but not in front of Aunty and Uncle. 


So what do you think is going on in that enclosed photo booth?



2. Do you want Prints, Gifs, Video, Boomerang or all of the above?


Different booths offer different options.


You may be better off opting for a digital photo booth that posts directly on Instagram but saves the environment by not printing any actual paper media.


Social Media shares seems to be everyones end game.


On the other hand print media may act as keepsake for the wedding are so fun during the event for guests to laugh and giggle about.


3. How much space does it take up? 

On average a photo booth takes up a 10'x10' space and usually requires a 6 foot table to place props. So when ordering a booth keep in mind that most booths require this as a minimum and some fancy enclosed booths may even require more space. 


4. How long is it going to be at your event? 

For a typical Indian wedding we recommend having your booth used during the cocktail hour which on average may run 90 minutes to 2 hours.


Once guests are in the ballroom and the program starts the photobooth is likely to be suspended in use during that time.


Once the program ends (First Dance and Speeches) then the booth ends up being put back to use. This time span usually spans 4-6 hours. 



Taking selfies has become a standard shot of professional photographers. Same with your photo booth setup! The irony but it's awesome!

5. How can you make it unique? 

Decorators can be contracted to create a custom photo booth backdrop.


Designs on prints can be personalized and so can props!


Take a minute to think about what is really special to you and how your guests can embrace it knowing it's a symbol of your personality. We've done events where couples have used Rickshaws as backdrops and custom printed backdrops to embody a step and repeat banner. 


ALSO SEE: How Much is a Wedding DJ?

ALSO SEE: LED WALL RENTAL When You Need it


6. How much do Photo Booths cost?


Typical photo booths in California or a major US metro cost about $1,200 for a 3 hour slot without an employee, but these days with slow motion photo booths, printing, props, labor and extra charges it comes out to about $2,500 to $3,000.


Don't be fooled by a $500 photo booth, it might just be a vending machine on wheels.


You want to get quotes for photo booths that include:

  • attendant,

  • props, (they'll charge extra to print your hashtag, special jokes or saying, etc..)

  • printing for guests (is it per print or flat rate for 250 prints?)

  • time to setup

  • time of operation, etc..


You can find various options so please do shop around and compare the different styles!





7. For Indian weddings, which is the best kind of Photo Booth?


We recommend open air photo booths for the following reasons:


  • You get a full view of your awesome outfit,

  • people want bigger group photos so a closed one won't cut it

  • If you're worried about your $20,000 of decoration looking lite in a massive ballroom, the photo booth area really fills up the empty spaces or corners.

  • People can view from the queue or elsewhere what's going on, and it really increases participation which increases memories from your Sangeet or Wedding reception! We often see photographers, taking photos of people taking photos in the photo booth! INCEPTION FTW!



7. For Corporate Events, which is the best kind of Photo Booth?


We recommend open air photo booths again for the following reasons:


  • It's more LinkedIn that Instagram, people like space.

  • Sharon from Accounting doesn't want to be that close to Bob from Finance

  • Closed Photo Booths have lower participation rates in corporate or conferences.


Our Yelp Photo and DJ Reviews.



CONCLUSION


By now you should have a good sense on if you need a photo booth or not. Again, about 75% of weddings we see, over 100 guests usually have one.


If you're having a smaller function, no need to spend $2500 on a photo booth as you'll likely have the same effect with selfies or simply amongst yourselves.


However if you're having over 200 people at your wedding, don't miss out and feel that things are a bit "empty."


The photo booth keeps your guests busy when you're also busy running the room! They are absolutely vital at Big Fat Indian weddings in Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County and the Bay Area, and a great addition to corporate events!


Questions? Pop them in the comments and SAY CHEESE!



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