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Why I don’t like
photo booths

Ok, straight away before I’ve said any more… someone out there will say;
“But I loved it at that Wedding…”

Don’t get me wrong, Photo booths, when done right, with the right equipment, can be fun… but, I’ve seen too many not work right for the party.

Cambridgeshire Wedding Photographer Steve Mulvey - capturing the emotions and memories of your big day in technically stunning imagery.

The big thing for any party, be it a birthday, wedding reception or other event, is the atmosphere.

All the decorations, the lighting, the music, the food, the drinks… they are all the ingredients to get the people having a good time together… and that’s the key here.

What made it click for me was when a bride came to me while taking dance floor photos.  She was a little upset that the dance floor only had a few guests and she wanted to dance!


Now, I know I’m only the photographer, but I need my brides and grooms to smile and enjoy themselves, so I can capture them at their best… which is why I do so much more than just take photographs.


On that particular reception, I put my camera down and went to investigate, and I found about 20 guests in and around the Photo Booth.  Some had photos taken and were waiting to see others, some were in line waiting, and some were just there to talk to friends and relatives who were there… the party became centred on the booth, which was in a different part of the venue, in a room away from the music, dance floor and away from my dancing bride.

To solve this, I took some key props from the Photo Booth guy and threw them on the dance floor.  It did not take long for guests to pick them up, the bride was happy that the party was back on and I was away snapping wonderful party photos.

What made it worse, was that the booth came as a cheap add-on to a package the bride and groom got from another vendor.  They probably wouldn’t have had the booth if it wasn’t so cheap to get, but it took guests away from the entertainment on the dance floor which is in many cases the focal point of the party.

I’ve seen the standalone interactive photo box, which looks great, and the interactive mirrors… I wanted them too, but having seen them in action… I’m no longer convinced.

The tripod mounted photo box was well placed at one venue, in the middle of the bar area which was also the entrance… and somehow, it was ignored, hidden by the crowds.  It wasn’t cheap either, £395 for the hire… and I think it was used about 20 times from a wedding reception of over 150guests.

So, what’s the solution here?

Well, you can’t rely on the venue you’ve chosen, they are there to say ‘yes’ as much as possible, and they often only say no when they legally have too, or they have a policy which allows them to generate more profit.

You can’t rely on the Photo Booth vendors, they want your custom so have to say yes as much as possible.

So, you need to go with your vision of what the party will look and feel like… seasoned wedding photographers have seen it all, and I offer all my clients a planning consultation.  It not only helps me capture all your details for the day, but I can advise on what works well and advise on how to mitigate potential issues, so they don’t become a problem on the big day.

Now I have that out of the way…

My solution!

Let me introduce the concept of…

‘The Pop-Up Photo Studio’

Rather than an encapsulated booth, the open plan photo wall means everyone can see whats going on and get involved in the fun, without having to huddle around a curtained booth. This means guests can still party and still have photo fun.

I set up a studio back drop (or use your existing backdrop to keep with your theme), I then set up some studio style lighting (much better than the flat lighting from automated photo booths) and I take professional portraits of your guests, with and without props as you or they please.  Using professional cameras, lens and flash lighting to get studio quality portraits, taken when the expressions are best and with interaction between the photographer you get the best possible images, especially compared to the photo booth product.

You can use your own personalised backdrop too. You can find some ideas here, here and here.

I only need wall space and I often set up either on the dance floor or very close to it, keeping guests together and in the party zone!

I also make a point of a start and end time, usually an hour, that way I can capture everyone and remove the studio with minimal impact to the party.

Lastly, I work with you to plan this, if I see a problem I talk it through with you and if it doesn’t work, I will tell you beforehand, so you don’t lose out on money or party time. Remember I will say ‘no’ as I need your smiles to make the best photos rather than be upset on the day.

If you’re interested, I can offer the pop-up photo studio as an extra, if you’re not, that’s ok too! Remember, this is about making your event work, and no matter if you choose a booth, a wall or none at all, we can work together to make it work the best for your party!

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