23 11, 2016

2016 Black Friday Deals Are Here

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Deals from our Sponsors

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FotoMaster:

This Holiday season, re-invent fun through technology with FotoMaster’s Black Friday SALE!
Take advantage of a $450 discount on the interactive Mirror Me Booth. Offer valid until Sunday, November 27, 2016.

Imaging Spectrum:

This is our biggest Black Friday sale ever. Visit Imaging Spectrum for great offers on printer bundles, printers with freebies, media, software, templates and more. Our Black Friday specials will be available through Monday November 28, 2016.


Photo Booth Talk Market – Templates

Now through November 28, all Templates in Photo Booth Talk Market are $10 ($5 for VIP Club Members).  No Code Necessary.


Photo Booth Academy by PBPI

Are you ready to learn, be inspired, refreshed and high-fived?  Whether you are a Freshman business owner just starting out, an established Sophomore who could use some skills training and sales tutoring or 4.0 Senior getting to Graduate and enter the corporate event field, you will surely find value in Academy’s diverse 30 Class Curriculum with Break-Out sessions designed for professionals both new and established. Join like minded business owners, instructors, software developers, vendors and other industry pros for nightly Networking Happy Hours, and gather round each evening as a panel of industry heroes and break through pros gather together to discuss hot topics in our nightly”Fireside Chats”.

Academy is an event you cannot afford to miss and with our Black Friday special, it is even more affordable than ever! Now through Monday, November 28, 2016, tickets are just $475 each (or split it into two payments of $237.50). No Promo Code Needed. Breakfast, Lunch and Snacks are included daily. Reserve your tickets now.


DSLR Photo Booth

$1000 OFF for the first three customers.  Valid November 25-30, 2016.


Red Robot

Purchase The Original Retro Photo Booth Kit beginning at $1999 and a Hashtag Print Station beginning at $1799. Offer valid: November 25- 28, 2016


LA Photo Party (Infinite & Sidekick Photo Booth, Photo Booth Upload Software)

$100 off THE SIDEKICK
50% off Virtual Reality with Purchase of the INFINITE 
20% off Photo Booth Upload Lifetime Licenses

Valid through November 30, 2016.  Promo Code: BLACKFRIDAY16  – Contact Chad Coe for more details: Sales: 323.473.4893 | sales@laphotoparty.com


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MinBooth:

Get the MinBooth 3.6 with LED lights, Printer Stand and Rolling Case with Custom Foam for only $3,000.  That’s a savings of $2,000 off the regular price!  Offer valid November 25-27, 2016. No Code Necessary.


Yo!Props

Now through November 26, 2016, Take 51% Off All Props at Yo!Props – Use Code: 51BLACKFRIDAY


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PicPic Social

Add a Social Media Sharings to your Event with PicPic Social Event Cloud. Take advantage of special 15% off savings on your First 6 Months and take up to 30 days to decide if PicPic Social is right for you!

PicPic is getting a huge makeover that will soon be available on iPad, Android and PC versions of PicPic Social. You can expect Improved Sharing Workflow and Photo Review, Custom Colors and Custom Thank You & Idle Screens to match your brand or the theme of the event and Advanced Data Capture features.


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MobiBooth

$500 Off MobiBooth iPad Pro & Surface Pro models.  Use Promo Code: BLACKFRIDAY16  Offer Valid November 25-30, 2016.  Limit 10
Includes 6 months software and 2 wheeled storage cases.


Photo Booth Supply Co

Friday – $300 Off any Photobooth
Saturday – Purchase a Ticket to The Booth Summit and receive additional business resources with your purchase
Sunday – 50% off all templates
Monday – Backdrops Sale – Details to Be Announced


Backdrops 2 Go

 Now through November 28, 2016, Take up to 25% Off.  Use Promo Code: BLACKFRIDAY2016


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Photo Booth Solutions

25% Off All Software Products at Photo Booth Solutions with Promo Code: blackfriday
Good through Nov. 30. Offer is not retroactive. Coupon can not be stacked with any other coupons. Excludes already discounted bulk vendor orders.

Pic Station Mini – $2,250 – Use Code: PICMINI200
Pic Station 3.0: Save $300 off a Shell or Complete Booth  – Use Code: BLACKFRIDAY
Enclosure: $1,250
Offer Valid Now through November 30, 2016

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Wilkes Booth

$1000 off Club Series Shells & Kits.  (expiration date unknown)


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Now through December 1, sign up for a new SmugMug account and receive 40% Off.

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Meet Mike Fazio of SnapBooth Consulting!  Mike’s company, Snap Booth Entertainment is the most reviewed photo booth company in the world. He has 430+ Five Star Reviews on Wedding Wire!  He has developed a system and is ready to share his expertise with you on how to replicate those kind of results. I’ve personally been watching his Startup Program videos, and I can’t get enough.
Mike is offering $300 off any of his packages which includes the video startup series, as well as two personal consulting packages. He is a wealth of knowledge, and I highly recommend checking out this program.  Use promo code: BLACKFRIDAY to take advantage of this generous offer.  Valid through November 28, 2016.

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Take $100 off all photo booth enclosures and $150 off all cases. Complete photo booth packages (enclosure & cases) start at just $6340! To order call us at 608-658-2818 or email us at info@photoboothenclosures.com and mention this ad. Valid through November 30, 2016

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$999 ModiBooth or Social Kiosk Shell Only (no Electronics), plus shipping. Order by Phone Only. 423-208-2086 Offer Valid for the first 5 orders only.

Hot Deals from our Industry Friends

Limelight iClick:
November 25-28: Save up to $600 off the iClick.  Shells starting at just $2,445 (plus shipping). No code necessary. Contact Anne Svoboda at Anne@LimelightPhotobooth.com or 503 860-0221

iPix Photo Booth:
Valid through December 15: $500-$1500 OFF – Contact Julia at info@pop-studios.com

Snapden Photo Booths:
Valid through November 30: $500 Off the Firefly 2.0 or Mini PRO Photo Booths. – Call us at 855-762-7336, ext 1, or email paul@snapden.com and mention promo code: SNAP DEN BLACK FRIDAY 

Digital Center Strip Photo Booth:
Valid November 25 10AM-6PM EST ONLY: $1000 Off the DC Strip Photo Booth. – Call us at 209-678-0554

Touch Screen Photo Booths:
Valid December 6: 25% OFF PHOTO BOOTH SHELLS – includes: constant LED lights, Flash, Tilt, Padded carrying bag, custom front and back panels.  Call: 1.855.372.6684 or email info@touchscreenphotobooths.com

MashBooth:
November 25-27: Receive a free trial of 14 days when you download the Mashbooth App. Must create a login account with a valid email address to receive offer. No code necessary.

PB Backdrops:
November 24-27: Buy 2 Get 2 Free Special Black Friday Deal on all Rosette Backdrops 7×7 with top pole pocket. Specify colors in Comments Section at Checkout.

ShutterQube:
Valid through November 28: 30% off All Backdrops.  Use Promo Code: blackfriday

Photo Booth Backdrops:
Valid through November 28: $200 Off  7ft & 9ft enclosures. Use Promo Code:blackfriday

1 Stop Photo Booth Shop:
Valid through November 27: 20% Off Custom Table Covers. Order 2 covers and get 3rd 50% off – Email for special invoicing. Sales@1stopphotoboothshop.com  –  Turnaround time about 15 days or less.  Custom requests need a VECTOR file for production. No code necessary.

The Traveler – Lightweight Printer Transport Case:
Expires November 28: 20% Off, Plus Free Shipping in the Continental US. Use Promo Code: #blackfriday

MMS Banners:
Valid through November 26: 33″x81″ Black retractable banner with stand, print and carry case. No edits.$105 Shipped

Sunstaches:
No Expiration Date:  Free Shipping with code: PHOTOBOOTH

Prop Shop Pros:
Valid through December 12: Receive an additional 15% off the already discounted sale prices throughout the store (props are already discounted by 20%). Use promo code: bf15off

Pop Studio Props:
Valid through November 30: 25% off all props.  Use promo code: BLACKFRIDAY2016

Prop Signs:
Valid through November 28: $5 per prop.  Use promo code: PBTBF

Papercuts & Woodworks:
Valid through November 28: 15% off all handmade wooden props and scrapbook paper. No code necessary.

Papercut Design Shop:
Valid through November 30: Offering printed scrapbook pages, handmade cardstock frames, bookmark photo holders, photo envelopes and more!
Spend $75 get 10% OFF – Use promo code: BFS10; Spend $150+ get FREE Shipping – Use promo code: FREESHIPBF

Studio Style:
No Expiration Date:  50% Retail when you sign up for a wholesale account. Free photo folder sample kit giveaway – please email KevinH@studiostyle.com or call us at 800-346-3063 to request it – while supplies last!

Photo Booth Frames:
Valid through November 29:  Click the Facebook Like Button on the PopUp Box to receive a code for 25% off.

Picture Perfect Supply:
Valid through November 28:  20% Off. Use promo code: holiday20

Tave:
Valid through November 28:  16% off Annual memberships.

Profit 911:
Valid through November 25: FREE 13 Growth Hacks DVD (you pay for shipping)

PBX Preday:
Valid through November 25: Half Price Ticket to 6 Figure Sales & Marketing Workshop at Photo Booth Expo 2017.  Use Promo Code: FRIDAY Not valid on previous purchases

PhotoBoothTraining.com:
Valid through November 28: Definitive Guide to Email Marketing for the Photo Booth Business. $60 off.  Use promo code: black

 

12 10, 2016

Photo Booth Academy by PBPI

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I have never been so pleased to formally announce anything in my business life as I am right now!

Please allow me to introduce PBPI Academy to all of you.  Learning from experts has always been a really important part of my business growth.  However, if I’m being honest with myself, I am not really an expert on anything. But there is one thing that I’m really good at and that is aligning myself with the best people in the business to learn from their triumphs and their mistakes. So, I did the thing that I do best and started working with industry experts to design a platform for education that is unrivaled in our industry. Enter Academy by Photo Booth Professionals International,  January 22-25, 2017 in New Orleans, LA, USA.

So, what’s Academy all about?  Taught by the most inspiring, the most creative and the most business savvy people in the industry, Academy is a one of a kind learning experience, offering hands-on photo booth education and skills training in a classroom setting.  Yes, Academy is taught by real photo booth professionals who are working and thriving in this business. Academy is the only place to receive advanced software training taught directly by the software developers inside of a classroom. Academy is a shoulder to shoulder peer networking experience where students, instructors, industry pros and vendors come together and mingle side by side. Academy will teach you how to take your business to the next level without bombarding you with sales pitches and sponsored classes.

Our team poured over the most asked business questions presented in the Photo Booth Network Group on Facebook to determine what kind of help and training that the community needed the most. Then we developed a curriculum to provide an extremely well-rounded education covering topics that we ourselves are excited to learn more about, such as industry trends, technical camera & lighting skills, sales, marketing, contracts, proposals, presentation, share stations, software, corporate activations, staffing, financing growth and more.  I’m so beside myself about this that I can’t wait to sit in class with my laptop, pencil and paper!

magazine-spread-leftFor me, the real highlight in the schedule line-up is the daily software training.  On day one and two, all four of the major software developers will be instructing their own classes on how to use their software.  That’s right folks, Chris Breeze is coming all the way from the UK to teach DSLR Remote Pro.  Wally Carnes will be teaching Darkroom Booth.  Photo Booth Upload‘s own rocket scientist David Miller will be there leading the PBU class.  And, Michael Gartner will be there to give you all the ins and outs on Social Booth. Day three is all about sharing stations and software, and Seye Omisore will be joining the aforementioned instructors to teach PicPic Social, as the others lead the classes on Photo Party Upload, Breeze Kiosk, Photo Booth Connected and Darkroom’s sharing features.

Now let me tell you about the rest of our instructors because they are among the best in the business and masters in their fields of expertise.

Kim Gottschalk, co-founder of ShutterBooth, knows a little something about building your dream team – her company operates in 40+ cities nationwide. David Hobrath’s company has offices in 20+ markets and is planning to share insights on how & when to expand your business – including methods of finance.

Mike Fazio has recently begun turning heads with his advice on building a local network, forming vendor relationships and business partnerships. He’s going to teach of some of his go to methods for establishing connections that translate into money in the bank. Mike’s company averages $80,000 in income per booth per year! Chad Coe gives us a recap all of the latest industry trends provides a forecast of where things are headed in the future.

Techie Adam Gray is a tinkerer by nature and a true teacher at heart. If you are scared of the technical aspects of going social, he’s going to help take that fear away with his class on setting up and managing Internet Connections at Events.

Kelly Williams gets hired for her creative skills, but she kicks butt when it comes to social engagement for her clients. Come and take a page from Kelly’s playbook and up your game for your corporate clients. Elliott Gosling is also a technical mastermind who loves to dig into code and make things work. He’s going to teach us how we can use Microsites to share our brand message with event guests when they share their photos. Better yet, he’s going to show us how we can use to them to our advantage for a value added service or an upsell for corporate clients.

Creative geniuses in the house! Some have dubbed Conor Mongan as the King of Green Screen, and he’s going to show us how to achieve spectacular green screen lighting and make those super fun immersive GIFs that have everyone oohing and ahhing. Have you see any of Steve Bliesner’s promo videos? You wanna find out how to do stuff like that? Well then, you can’t miss Steve’s class where he shows us how to put our best foot forward. Bill Vahrenkamp is photography veteran with decades of experience in event photography and public speaking. He was recently recognized by PPA as a Craftsman of his trade. If you want to take better photos – he’s the guy to learn from!

Rob Schenk is a wedding industry attorney who has the skinny on contracts, trademarks and copyright law. Not sure if you can use that photo for marketing – Rob can clue you in! Frances Foreman, formerly the Vice President of Operations for CTM Interactive shares her insights on designing and systemizing a workflow to take you from the initial call to post event without skipping beat. Frances will also discuss CRM programs that are available and the pros and cons of the most common ones used in our community.

After a daily networking happy hour, we’ll all sit down for Fireside Chats.  These panel discussions are sure to be a great way to wind down at the end of the day as a group of pros discuss a topic relevant to our industry.  On day one, Aldo Valadez, Kelly Williams and Steve Bliesner will lead a Q&A discussion on the topic of “Closing the Deal; Sales Techniques that Work.”

Minh Nguyen and Zach Schiffman make their public speaking debuts as they share the stage with Will and Becky White to discuss “Moving Up the Food Chain; Practical Suggestions for Entering the Corporate Photo Marketing World.”

Finally, Todd Freshman and Tracy Hueth will be joined by Meir Israel to discuss “#NotaBooth Trends that Appeal to Corporate Clients”

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If you’re worried about the expense of attending, PBPI is now offering Interest Free Monthly Payment Plans to help you stay on budget. Sign up and use the code PBPIA-PBT to enjoy an additional $75 off the regular ticket price. Discount also applies to payment plans.

Oh, and one more thing: Breakfast, Lunch and Networking Happy Hour Drinks are included in the ticket price.  Let us take care of feeding you, so the only thing you need to hunger for is education!

If you haven’t already purchased your ticket for PBPI Academy, don’t wait.  Tickets are selling fast, and space is limited to 200 seats.

Can’t wait to see you in NOLA!

-Cherie

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11 10, 2016

5 Tips to Begin Attracting Corporate Photo Booth Clients

“How do I get corporate clients?” This is one of the most asked questions in the photo booth industry, and the answers are some of the most guarded secrets amongst those who have moved up the food chain and made a name for themselves in the corporate world. There is no blue print to success, but there are points on a map that will get you closer to where you want to be.

By no means am I the foremost expert on this topic.  But, I’ve been around the block enough times to know what it takes to begin attracting clients that are willing to pay for expert level service. So, really what does it take to break out of the wedding mold and jump into corporate photo booth work? Here are a few things that helped me.

Network, Network, Network. Yeah, we hear people say that all the time, but with whom should you be networking? Million dollar question? No. The answer is simple if you really think about it. Who plans corporate events? Corporate Event Planners, that’s who.  Now ask yourself what groups corporate planners join to network.  Hmm…Bizzabo Blog sites the following in their article: Ten Event Planning Associations Organizers Should Know

  • ILEA: International Live Events Association
  • NACE: National Association For Catering And Events
  • ESPA: Event Services Professional Association
  • MPI: Meetings Professionals International
  • ICCA: International Congress And Convention Association
  • GMIC: Green Meetings Industry Council
  • CEMA: Corporate Event Marketing Association
  • IAVM: International Association Of Venue Managers
  • NCBMP: National Coalition For Black Meeting Planners
  • Eventovation: A Community For Anyone In The Events Industry

Work for Free. What?!?  Yes, work for free, and this might be the only time that I ever suggest this. Once you decide which organizations that you want to start seeking out, offer to showcase your services at one of their membership events. Essentially you will be offering an in-kind sponsorship. Be sure to ask for inclusion in the event program, vendor mentions and sponsor listings. Also do not neglect to put your logo and website details on the final prints.  Utilize social media sharing stations to further increase the reach of your brand message. Do this by making sure that photos are sent in e-mail form and that you have a custom designed HTML email that is mobile friendly and highlights your company and services. When you set up sharing via text message, make sure the event guests are led to your custom microsite to download their images. (Click here to see an example of my own custom microsite that matches my website.)  This will give you the opportunity to share your message with guests that choose to text their photos instead of email.  Do whatever you can to make sure people that are at the event know who you are and what you do.

Offer services that corporate clients are seeking.  Run of the mill photo strips won’t cut it these days (at least not most of the time).  Just like you, corporate event planners want to stand out from their competitors with a unique and memorable experience for event-goers.  They are looking for outside the box solutions while keeping much of the on-screen experience inside the box. So much of the guest experience is lost without seeing on-screen visual cues.  This is precisely why the face of event photography has forever changed and photo booths have wedged their way in. ‘Experiential Photography” and “Photo Marketing” are terms really sum up what brands are after. So what services are corporate clients looking for?

  • GIFs, GIFs and more GIFs. Regular 3 or 4 frame looping GIFs, Green Screen GIFs, Immersive GIFs (GIFs that appear to be placing people into a scene) and Boomerang style Burst GIFs.  These are all options offered with software that is currently available. Photo Booth Upload was the first to offer most of these features, but all three of the other major software developers offer GIF support including Darkroom Booth, Breeze DSLR Remote Pro and Social Booth.
  • Green Screen.  Realistic and immersive green screen capture has been an event staple for decades, and it isn’t going away any time soon.
  • Slow Motion Video. Whether it is slow motion against a blank backdrop or slam dunking a basketball in a real hoop or a green screen one, slow motion video is sought after for corporate activations if it is executed well.
  • Camera Array (also called Bullet Time). Straight up Matrix style camera arrays are a big deal. Smaller arrays with 5-8 cameras are portable enough to take to most events.
  • Light Painting
  • Dubsmash/Karoke Booth
  • Mirror Booths with custom Branding
  • Hashtag Printing
  • ID Card Printing
  • Virtual Reality
  • Air Graffiti Walls
  • Flipbooks
  • 360 Platforms with Video Capture
  • Roaming Photography or Shoot & Share (this one is an outside the booth offering that goes hand in hand with booth offerings)
  • Branded Booths
  • Custom Props
  • Custom Backdrops

Become a Social Sharing Expert.  Learn the ins and outs of using Social Sharing Software like Photo Party Upload or PicPic Social EC. Offer completely custom sharing packages for your corporate clients.  Above, I mentioned custom email and microsites.  This is an area where you can really make your clients shine. Customize the email that event-goers receive when they send their photos to themselves. Make it match the client’s brand. Do the same with the microsite.  With a little bit of HTML & CSS coding, you can do wonders that wow corporate clients and their guests.

If you are going to do photo sharing for corporate clients, I highly recommend that you familiarize yourself with Internet & Computer networking best practices because this is the number one worst headache that you will come up against when you are on-site at a highly attended event. Signal jams, weak wifi and firewalls are real issues, and they will bring a real pro to his knees if he can’t work through jammed up signals problems. Seye Omisore of PicPic Social wrote this article that can be of assistance with this particular topic.

Show off your work and get found. So you know how to do all the cool stuff.  That’s great. Now post it on your website and social media pages. Give these things searchable names on your website. Tag them on social media with terms that corporate planners are looking for. Beyond showing off the finished work, show examples of your branded booths & custom backdrops. Give people a glimpse of what your custom prop packages look like. Blog your events. Take photos of your set-ups. Capture video of people using your booth. Grab a snap of the mile long line waiting for a chance to get a photo at your booth. Use these to make a promo video. If there is anything that I can do better, this is at the top of my list. We are often so busy prepping and working our events that we forget to take photos of the action. Yet, it is probably the most power visual representation of the experience that comes with your photos, so don’t neglect it.

Bonus Tip: Professional presentation is the real key to making this happen. Without a professionally designed finished product, it’s quite likely that all of your other efforts could be overlooked. You can have all of the technical elements dialed in perfectly, but companies won’t pay top dollar for amateur looking stuff. If you aren’t skilled in design, hire people that can make you look good. Having a good designer in your back pocket can do more for your business than you could ever imagine. (FYI – I am not available for hire, so this is not a sales pitch. I, too, hire out the design for some of my more complex jobs, like immersive GIF because I’m not highly skilled in this genre.)

My best piece of advice is that if you are new to this industry or if you are not skilled with social sharing software, start there. Learn to walk before you run. Start introducing these features with your social clients. Get really good at setting up various sorts of Internet configurations and troubleshooting. Once you have that down, learn the advanced features of your software.  Then start marketing for small corporate jobs when you know your software inside out and know how to handle the myriad of issues that can come up at an event. Master those events, and keep working your way up the ladder.

11 08, 2016

Stand out from the Photo Booth Crowd – Your Website

Websites

It is safe to say the Event Photo Booth industry is well over a decade old now.  When I opened up shop in 2007, there were just two photo booth companies in the St. Louis Metropolitan area.  They were pioneers of the photo booth movement, and those two companies essentially got all the business.  They were the go-to referral choices of all of the wedding and meeting planners in the area, and there weren’t any other options.  I think both got their start in 2002 – yes, 14 years ago!

Fast forward to 2016 – I stopped counting my local competitors when I got to 50, and there were dozens more left uncounted.  In my search, I discovered that many of these companies are just offering run of the mill services that were being offered in 2007 when I started boothing. Many of their websites are basic DIY template sites, and I couldn’t find anything worth writing home about.

With the seemingly endless number of photo booth companies to choose from, how does one get noticed? It must be absolutely daunting to the consumer to narrow down the company that they want to work with. Almost every website that I looked at is filled with similar images that convey the same look and feel as almost all of the competitor sites that I viewed.

The first thing this tells me is that if you want people to look at your company differently, you have to look different from your competitors.  What does your website say about your company and what does it say about you?

Does your website say that you do the exact same thing as every other photo booth company in your area? Do your images look similar? How about your booths, do they look just like the other guys’? Do you have the exact same styles of backdrops as you competitor? What are you offering that will stand out to a prospective client and spur them to pick up the phone and call you? When they call, are they going to expect your prices to match your super budget friendly competitor because your website failed to demonstrate that you offer something different and of greater value?

If you don’t want to compete on price, here’s a piece of advice – use your website to help the consumer see that you have something more valuable to offer that is worth more than what your competitors offer. As they say, a picture speaks a thousand words, so heavy use of imagery is very important. Showing your best photos helps put your best foot forward. Provide lots of examples. Show off your equipment. Give people a visual of what they get when they hire you.

Here are some websites that do an outstanding job of this:

The Photo Booth Guys in Australia & UK – http://photobooth.co

MDRN Photo Booth in Ottawa & Toronto, Canada – http://mdrnphotoboothcompany.com

OMG Booth in Atlanta, GA – https://www.omgbooth.com

Studio Z Photo Booths in NYC – http://www.studiozphotobooths.com

It would be easy to list dozens more, but these sites sends a clear and concise message that these companies are different and worth reaching out to. They are worth paying more for their services. Their websites convey that they pay attention to details in their marketing, and they will pay attention to the details for their clients. So how do you get from a “stuck in 2001 website” to a modern website?

If you aren’t skilled at building websites and lack the creativity to make yours look different from everyone else’s site, I highly encourage you to begin seeking out the help of a professional website designer/developer. Hiring someone does two things: 1) it puts a finite date on finishing the project; and 2) it frees you up to work on growing your business. Website building is not for the faint of heart, and it can drive you mad if you don’t have the skills and willpower to do the job that you envision and complete it.

If you are a creative person and aren’t one to back away from a challenge, you might try building your own site. If you decide to go this route, check out WordPress if you haven’t already. WordPress themes come in abundance and with most modern hosts, you can install and set up WordPress yourself with a few clicks of a button. If you tried it years ago and gave up, try again because with every new WordPress update, it becomes simpler and simpler to work with.

My all time favorite WordPress theme is ProPhoto because it is so easy to work with and is incredibly customizable. This theme was designed for DIY’er.  The developer recently released a responsive mobile friendly updated version (don’t purchase any versions or designs that are for ProPhoto 5 or less). Don’t let the $199 price tag scare you. It’s completely worth it for an easy to use modern interface with loads of setup tutorials and support videos. ProPhoto also offers expert install options if you aren’t comfortable installing the theme on your own (but hey you run a photo booth, you should be able to click a few buttons and make this happen).  The second favorite on my list is Divi by Elegant Themes because it is extremely customizable and provides in-theme tools to create a one of a kind site.  Another list topper is Avada, the best selling theme on ThemeForest. The customization options are nearly endless with Avada, and their support is top notch. If none of these theme options appeal to you, you can search through thousands of WordPress themes on ThemeForest.net to find something that is perfect for the brand message you want to convey. Just make sure you choose something that is responsive and mobile friendly and has a good rating. Lots of sales means lots of documentation and customer support, so keep that in mind when making your choice.

But, if you aren’t comfortable with that, freelance work sites like Upwork.com are filled web developers looking to take your money. Again, just make sure your message and goals are clear.  Provide lots of examples and check their past work.

Other popular DIY website platforms that are responsive/mobile friendly include Wix, Weebly and Big Black Bag.  Each one takes some creativity to customize, and your strategic use of images will be very important as with any website platform.

 

16 03, 2016

(almost) All you wanted to know about photo booth lighting – Part 3

Electronic flash is the king of photo booth lighting

Why?

  • It overpowers ambient light, so it doesn’t matter (much) if stray light is streaming in from the sun or another light source at the venue.
  • It freezes action, because it lasts for such a short time that it mimics a very high shutter speed.
  • Your subjects will definitely know when the photo is taken.
  • The color of the light is about the same color as daylight.
  • Except for the fraction of a second when it actually flashes, it’s not objectionably bright.
  • It doesn’t have to be bulky.

That’s when flash is done right.

Photo of inside of photo booth with Canon G-9 Powershot camera, Alien Bee B-400 strobe, CFL modeling light and power strip.

Inside a home built booth with Canon G-9 Powershot camera, Alien Bee B-400 strobe, CFL modeling light and power strip.

Electronic flash is not always easy to do right

  • You will need more cords: a power cord from AC source to the flash, and a synchronization (sync) cord from the flash to the camera
  • Not all cameras can be used with flash. Only cameras that have either a PC terminal or a “hot shoe” can tell the flash when you want it to go off.
  • You’ll need some kind of modeling light – a continuous light that stays on so the camera can see to focus and the subjects can see what they will look like.
  • The inside of your booth gets even more crowded.
  • You might have to think, and as a fifth-grader once said to my wife “it hurts when I think.”

What’s the difference between a speed light, an electronic flash, and a strobe?

In everyday usage, the terms are interchangeable. Technically a strobe flashes continuously like stage lighting, but photographers tend to use whichever term they want to.

How does an electronic flash work?

The power supply boosts your incoming voltage – whether it comes from batteries or house current – to a higher voltage. Usually about 330 to 500 volts.

The flash charges up a capacitor, a device that holds a lot of “juice” and can dump it very fast. It takes a few seconds to fully charge a capacitor, and the time you wait for this to happen is the recycle time.

The capacitor dumps its charge into the flash tube, which converts the electrical charge into light. Think of it as “lightning in a tube” because that’s exactly what it is.

And just like lightning this high voltage can kill you. Even the tiny flash guns in disposable cameras have enough power to stop your heart. Don’t try taking flash guns apart.

 

Shoe mount speedlights fit directly on top of your camera. That’s got its good points and bad points.

Good points:

  • They are small
  • They hook directly to the camera with no cords
  • They will set the camera’s lens opening and shutter speed automatically

Bad points:

  • Because the flash tube is small, the light is harsh and falls off dramatically.
  • They run on batteries. Good for portability, not for long session.
  • The good ones are not cheap. The cheap ones are not good.
  • They will set the shutter speed for you and that’s not always good. (see below)

Shutter speeds: When you are setting your camera’s lens opening and shutter speed, you should know that changing the shutter speed has no effect on the brightness of the picture if the flash is the only source of light.

That’s because the length of time that the flash is on is the effective shutter speed. If the flash only lasts 1/2000th of a second, the effective shutter speed is only 1/2000th of a second no matter what the shutter is set to. That’s why strobes are so good at freezing action. When your guests get crazy in the booth the flash freezes them in their tracks.

However cameras with a focal plane shutter – such as a DSLR camera – can’t use flash at all shutter speeds. That’s because focal plane shutters use two curtains, which move top to bottom on modern cameras – the ones that can be used photo booths. Cameras like the Canon and Nikon slrs with live view.

These sample photos were taken with a Canon T5. Your camera may give different results.

at 1/30th of a second

at 1/30th of a second

60th

At a 1/60th of second

125th

at a 125th of second

250th

at a 250th of a second (on some cameras, this would be too fast for flash use)

500th

At a 1/500th second part of the image will be blacked out, because there is no one moment when the shutter curtains are completely open.

1000th

It’s even worse at 1/1000th.

Speedlight mounted directly on camera. Runs on batteries, sets the shutter speed automatically, doesn't have a modeling light.

Speedlight mounted directly on camera. Runs on batteries, sets the shutter speed automatically, doesn’t have a modeling light.

Incidentally, cameras like the Canon Powershot series do not have a focal plane shutter and can synchronize with higher shutter speeds. I’ve taken photos at 1/2500th of a second using flash and flash totally overpowers ambient light at those high speed.

Flash units that mount on the accessory shoe of your camera, such as the one shown here, are usually “dedicated”. That means that the extra contacts on the bottom of the flash exchange data with the camera’s computer, and will automatically set the shutter speed of the camera to a low number such as 1/60th of a second. That gives you safety but also means that your photos may be affected by the existing light. I like to use high shutter speeds.

For photo booth use a studio strobe usually makes more sense. The monolight style has a combined head and power pack, reducing the number of cords and the amount of clutter.

Alien Bee monolight studio strobe

Alien Bee monolight studio strobe

This Alien Bee B400 from the Paul C. Buff company is probably the most popular model for photo booth DIY types. Certainly not the only one on the market, but it’s got a reputation for reliability and plenty of power.

There are less expensive flash units out there, but this is a bad area in which to economize.

 

 

Advantages of a monolight:

  • Runs on AC – no batteries needed
  • Recycles very quickly
  • Has a modeling light to show where the shadows will fall and also lets the guests see what they look like. (suggestion – replace the one that comes with your flash with a cool LED bulb if you can)
  • Many have a cooling fan, really valuable in an enclose tower or shell

Disadvantages:

  • You need both an AC cord for the power and a PC sync cord to connect it to the camera.
  • Somewhat bulky.
  • Like any other major component of your flash, you need a back-up “just in case”

The trigger mechanism tells the flash when to perform its magic. Usually a cord does the work, but many flash units also have an optical slave trigger, which triggers the flash when it sees another flash. (turn off or cover the optical trigger so other photographers don’t trip your flash at random.)

More about flash cords and hot shoe adapters.

Baby Pin Plates are a rugged and easy way to mount a studio light with a 5/8" fitting

Baby Pin Plates are a rugged and easy way to mount a studio light with a 5/8″ fitting

Most small studio strobes are designed to mount directly on top of a light stand with a 5/8″ diameter stud. One of the easiest ways to mount them to a cabinet is by using a “baby pin plate,” a steel plate with a stud fastened to it. You can screw, bolt or rivet it to your shell.

 

Pin plates are available with different lengths.

I thought these ramblings about lighting would be over after 3 sections. I was wrong.

Next: reflectors, umbrellas and soft boxes.

In the interests of full disclosure: I’m a member store of the Photographic Research Organization, the company that make ProMaster products. So I’m a little biased in favor of those products.

Blog contributor Chris Lydle