13 04, 2017

Using commercial templates to wow your clients

Unless you’re a creative genius, you may find that buying (actually, licensing) commercial templates is a lot easier than designing them yourself.

But what do you get when you pay for a template? Here’s a sample description using the “I Heart You” template from Cherie Irwin. Your package includes Photoshop files to create 3 image layouts:

  • A 4″ x 6″ print with 3 photos: 2 small and 1 “hero”
  • A 2″ x 6″ strip with  4 photos
  • A 2″ x 6″ strip with  3 photos

and built into the template are some important instructions.

If you’re not familiar with Photoshop, you should know that it can save images with several layers of information. Those layers can be visible or you can make them invisible.

Let’s start with the top layer of this design template.

The top layer includes the terms of use – what rights you have purchased and things you can not legally do. The biggest “no-no” is that you can’t resell this design or incorporate elements of this design into another design that you then sell. Other than that the terms are pretty liberal – you can customize it for your customers, make some signs for your own publicity purposes, put it on your website.

And you also get a list of the fonts you need to customize the layout. Usually those fonts are available free from sites like “dafont.com” but the data sheet tells you the source, too.

The bottom layer, which is visible once you turn the top layer invisible, shows you the exact coordinates to place each shot your camera takes.

Most software prints 2″ x 6″ photo strips as 2-up on a 4″ x 6″ piece of paper. So you will want to enter information as follows:

All the images will be 550 pixels wide by 412 pixels high. For the left hand strip

  • image 1 will start 45 pixels from the left border, 60 pixels from the top.
  • image 2 will start 45 pixels from the left border, 497 pixels from the top.
  • image 3 will start 45 pixels from the left border, 934 pixels from the top.

And you’ll be entering data for a second set, the strip on the right hand side.


  • image 1 will start 645 pixels from the left border, 60 pixels from the top.
  • image 2 will start 645 pixels from the left border, 497 pixels from the top.
  • image 3 will start 645 pixels from the left border, 934 pixels from the top.


The middle layers  are where you find all the design work, and you can open up layer after layer to see exacly what’s there. And you can change colors and content freely.

After you have edited the names of your bride and groom, and the dates, you will make the bottom layer invisible and save your complete template as an overlay in the .png format. Why .png instead of .jpg? Because the .jpg format doesn’t support transparency, and you need the photos from each session to show through the overlay.

If you use Darkroom Booth software, you do not need to lay out 2″ x 6″ strips as doubles. The software can take care of the composite process so you can lay out your photos and edit your text only once

There are many vendors offering well designed templates. Personally, I like the work that Cherie Irwin does (she’s the one who created Photo Booth Talk) and you can see samples in the Market portion of this website. Belonging to the VIP Club makes a lot of sense: you get bunches of templates right off the bat and as new designs are published you can get those too.




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.

10 07, 2016

Creating or modifying photo strip templates: Part 1

Photo booth strips can be more than just a piece of paper with some photos - graphic elements add to the fun!

A booth strip with a small amount of artwork on the top layer, as it was delivered to the guest.

While many variations of photo booths create different end results, such as images distributed on social media or videos saved for the benefit of the sponsor, the primary output of your photo booth is still a printed strip. That’s a big part of the photo booth experience – the anticipation. The waiting for those pictures to slide down a chute and into your hands. The close inspection, the showing to your friends, the laughter.

Warning: Photoshop talk ahead

There’s no getting around it. If you want to design graphics, you need to have some skill as a graphic designer and that means the ability to work with Photoshop or one of its clones.

Can you skip this? Yes. Software such as the Breeze family and Darkroom Booth have the ability to do some designs entirely within the program, but you are limited in how creative you can be.

When you buy a template from the Photo Booth Talk store or almost anybody else, what you’re going to receive is a Photoshop computer file, otherwise known as a PSD file. So you really have to understand this kind of program.

If you aren’t familiar with such a program, go find someone to help you.

Still here? Good.

Graphic images can be created and saved as several types of computer files, but we’ll be working with only three.

PSD (Photo Shop Document) files are the editable files in which we will actually design our layouts. You can change them as much as you want, add text and layers and special effects, and they remain editable. If you use the right tools and work flow, your images will not lose detail over many iterations.  PSD files are regarded as non-lossy. They will have names like “Chicago.psd” where the file name extension is “.psd”.

They can be saved with multiple layers, allowing subsequent editing of specific elements only. That means when you create a great layout your can add it to your library of stock designs. Offer it to your clients and all you’ll need to do is change the names and the dates.

PSD files can only be seen and used by editing software such as (surprise!) Adobe Photo Shop. Less expensive programs like Adobe Photo Shop Elements and freeware/shareware programs such as GIMP can also handle PSD files.

JPG (Joint Photographic Expert Group), pronounced “jay-peg” files, are a universally-recognized form of compressed image files. They can be seen by just about all computer programs and can easily be printed. They’re a flat file – only one layer – and can not have transparent portions. They will have names like “background.jpg” where the file name extension is “.jpg”.

PNG (Portable Network Graphics) are a more recent file type. Like a .jpg file, they are flat. Like a .jpg file, they can be printed and seen by most computer programs. But unlike a .jpg file they allow transparency. So they are the best type of file for an overlay, for design elements that go in front of the photos of your guests. They will have names like “overlay.png” where the file name extension is “.png”.

The most popular type of design for booth strips can be reduced to 3 layers:

photo booth strip as it's being assembled, with an overlay layer about to be dropped onto the pictures.

The photos have been placed by the booth software, and now we’re ready to stack the overlay.png on top.

  • The bottom layer, often named “background.jpg”. If you are going to have all your custom details on an overlay, you don’t need a background layer.
  • The photo layer, which is created by placing the photographs taken during each booth session
  • The top layer, which generally has all the fun design elements – frames, logos, medallions, and possibly the names of the clients or sponsors. Usually named “overlay.png”.

On top of these layers, some software allows you to create easily edited “captions.” These captions might be details that change from one event to another, such as the name of the bridge and groom or the date.

One big advantage of using captions for the changeable data is that this process is done within the booth software rather than being done in a separate program such as Photo Shop. So if you’re at an event and suddenly realized the groom’s name is Kevin, not Kerwin, you can easily change it on the spot.

A disadvantage of captions is that they can’t have special effects such as beveling, following paths, metallic effects or other techniques possible with Photo Shop.

Each brand of photo booth software has its own way of handling your designs, and in the next chapter of this discussion we’ll go into that.

22 05, 2016

Reflectors, umbrellas and soft boxes

OK, I’m still talking about lighting. But that’s because really good lighting does more to improve your photos than buying a new camera or lens will ever do.

No matter what your source of light – continuous bulbs, LEDs, electronic flash – the light becomes better when it’s diffused, soft and big.

Umbrellas are highly portable but can’t be mounted inside a booth cabinet. Many boothers mount the flash and umbrella above the cabinet of a lolly-pop style booth.

UmbrellaIf the flash is facing toward the subject you’ll want a “shoot-through” umbrella. If the flash is facing away from the subject you want a reflective umbrella, where all the light bounces back toward the subjects.

And push the umbrella on its shaft as far back from the flash as you can. That lets the light spread out more, diffusing it and making it softer.



  • White: A white umbrella gives an even diffused lighting effect with soft shadow definition. The closer to the subject the umbrella is placed, the softer the shadow will be. Thin fabric is also great for a “shoot-through” umbrella.
  • White/Silver: This umbrella softens and broadens the light output from any flash or monolight. It differs from a white umbrella in that it adds a specular highlight to subjects and slightly intensifies the light output. This is NOT a shoot-through umbrella.
  • Black/Silver: The black/silver umbrella provides focused lighting, along with soft shadow definition. It is especially suitable for bringing out structural details in materials. The black backing helps to keep stray light from escaping.
  • Black/Gold: The black/gold umbrella is an all gold reflective umbrella that produces a warm soft, wrap around style lighting perfect for single light portraits. effect.

There’s a big advantage in having the umbrella farther away from the subjects. For example, in having the flash pointing behind the booth and bouncing off an umbrella.

You’re less likely to have the people in the back too dark and the people in the front too light. That’s because the difference in their relative distance from the flash is less if the flash is farther back.


This ProMaster soft box folds into a small storage case about 10″ x 16″ x 3″

A soft box is an alternative to the umbrella. It mounts on the front of the flash (or the flash mounts on the back of it). None of the light is lost, it bounces around the inside of the box and comes out through the diffuser panel in front. It won’t waste light trying to fill up the entire room.

Disadvantage: you’ve got to mount the soft box fairly far back. If you’ve got an open booth at a decent distance from the background that’s OK, but these generally won’t fit in a closed booth configuration. There are soft boxes to fit both studio-type strobes and also shoe-mount flashguns.

If you mount your flash and its modifiers on top of the photo booth, it may get so high that you’re seeing major shadows when the guests wear hats.