Photo Booth for a wedding

[Joe Bain] built a portable photo booth for his wedding. We’ve looked in on photo booths before, both as a robust feature in your apartment and as a mobile option. But making it part of a wedding reception is the best reason we’ve found to build one. [Joe's] electronics consist of a laptop, camera, screen, and a big pushbutton that interfaces via a serial cable and adapter. He found some software that was written for photo booths which takes care of almost everything including polling the “go” button.

The booth itself is a frame build from PVC pipe (another chance to use those fancy fittings) with fabric dividers hanging from it. This is fun for the wedding-goers and it produces a bit of nostalgia for your scrapbook.

Comments

  1. Jason says:

    I built one for my wedding and have been renting it out to defray costs. Total cost was several times what a rental would have been, but I’ve been having fun with it. It’s certainly not a money-maker, though. To do it right (i.e., something solid enough to use for multiple events and with reliable equipment for the printer, etc.) you are looking at a few thousand dollars.

    But it was a lot of fun and my guests loved it!

  2. tomas316 says:

    I built one for a friends bar. I used a laptop, inkjet printer, webcam, and a big red button to start the whole process. Some scripting in linux and i was done. My cost was around 300$. I warned him that the cost of the consumables would be quite high. I guess Redbull has one they cart around and their costs were several thousand dollars every month, so he abandoned the idea.

  3. Masta Squidge says:

    But, if you have a good quality photo printer and can access free software, the out of pocket cost for the project could be reduced A LOT.

    Hunt down some scrap parts to rig up a durable, yet user friendly button (get a staples easy button, repaint the text… BOOM) and run the software on a netbook. Win.

  4. noone says:
  5. Derek says:

    I am not sure how most peoples weddings go, but at mine the people usually get pretty drunk, I would put it almost in a door way, So people can get pics on there way through and then get drunk pics on the way out. Possible motion activated with a 30 second delay? Almost like a trail Camera?

  6. Jason says:

    I looked everywhere for free software (mostly out of principal, since the $85 I paid for the software was a tiny fraction of the event costs and ended up being well worth it). I couldn’t find any–if you could point to the scripting you did in Linux that would be much appreciated.

    BTW, if you steal the DSLR Remote Pro software using that link above, you’re stealing from a real programmer, a one-man shop run by a guy named Chris Breeze. His product is very fairly priced for pro-quality software and there is a free trial version if you just want to mess around with it. Ripping off M$oft is one thing, ripping off a genuinely nice guy and very hard-working programmer is pretty sleazy. If you want it free, build your own and open source it, no need to mess with Chris.

    Inkjets aren’t the way to go. They’re slow, unreliable, and prone to smudges as well as bleeding when they get wet (from wet hands from holding a drink with condensation or spilling a drink on it).

    To do it right, you need a solid dye-sublimation printer. You can get cheap canon dye-sub printers that are slow but good for a single event. If you want to use this for multiple events, a Sony UPCX1 is the preferred option for photobooths. High-quality prints, they sell a perforated paper specially designed for photobooths, and the consumables cost is pretty low, about $100 for a 3-hour event with heavy use.

    Red Bull would have to be putting out a LOT of prints to go through thousands of dollars a month.

  7. fast50 says:

    Good idea but I think this project is not that great for a article on Wired. He uses off the shelf software $175 and a $600 camara. Where is the cool part? That he built a pvc box and hung a cloth? I was kind of expecting some type of free or reasonable free software that would work with a point and shoot and a big button to trigger the picture with a LCD to display what it took.

  8. Jason says:

    @fast50

    You could do this with $85 software and a cheap point-and-shoot from eBay (or your existing digital camera might work) to keep costs down, which is what I did. I think the original guy was looking for an excuse to buy a nice camera. You certainly don’t need a $600 camera.

    If you have a newer laptop or nettop with a webcam built-in with resolution above 1 mp, you might even be able to use that camera for something like this. You’d just have lower quality prints.

    There’s really no way around a lot of the costs for some of this, though–if you want high-quality prints, you’re going to have to use decent equipment for printer and camera (and lighting). How much it costs depends on what you have and what compromises you’re willing to make.

  9. fast50 says:

    What software are you talking about that works with a point and shoot?

  10. Jason says:

    http://breezesys.com/Photobooth/index.htm

    He sells different versions for different cameras. PSRemote works with older Canon Powershots. Since they stopped putting out the SDK for new powershots, you have to buy a used one from his list of supported models. Used = keeps the price down!

    I know that a year or so ago a kid made a cheaper hack to work with a Mac, too, but it wasn’t as automated as this.

    There’s also photoboof.com. Another one-man shop, but squarely aimed at professional photobooths with a $600 price tag. Nicer set of features, but there’s no way to justify the extra $500.

    If I knew anything about linux I’d love to put something together in that, but I expect the driver issues alone might drive one to drink…

  11. fast50 says:

    Thats my point there isn’t really a under $100 option for a point and shoot. Sure you can use a web cam but they suck with image quality compared to a real still camera.

  12. Jason says:

    I used a Canon S2: http://shop.ebay.com/?_from=R40&_trksid=p3907.m570.l1313&_nkw=canon+s2+&_sacat=See-All-Categories

    You can usually get one right around the $100 point on ebay. I’m sure there are other Canon PS models that will work with PSRemote for even less if you dig around.

  13. Jason says:

    For those following along, my fixed costs are:
    –camera: Canon S2 off ebay, $100
    –software: PSRemote, $85 (I think it’s $95 now)
    –AC adaptor for camera from Amazon: $20 or so
    –printer: Sony UPCX1, $800
    –computer: touchscreen Asus all-in-one from Amazon, $500, but you could use your existing windoze box for free if you wanted.

    I don’t count the frame because that is an individual choice–you make whatever frame/cloth setup you like best for whatever is in your budget)

    If you want good quality prints, you can’t save on the printer, although you sometimes see that model available used for less. If you don’t care about reliability, you could buy a cheap dye-sub printer for $100: http://www.provantage.com/canon-4350b001~7CAN91U3.htm it just might not hold up for long and you’ll be forever replacing paper and ink at high cost. I don’t recommend inkjet but you could go that way if you had an inkejet lying around.

    So if you have a computer and photo printer already, you could do this for pretty cheap. And if you have a compatible canon camera, it gets even cheaper.

    The fun of this hack is mostly in the physical component assembly–designing and making the booth, picking out the right selection of camera/computer/printer for your needs, and making something really cool. You can spend as little or as much money as you want to make something that’s totally customized to your own needs. You could use a $100 printer or spend $2500 on a Shinko like they use in the photolab. You could make the frame from PVC, wood, iron, aluminum, whatever. You can use a used POS camera from ebay or spend $1500 on a fancy new DSLR with all the gadgets. You could use almost any computer. You could hack together a script in linux or buy off-the-shelf software.

    At the end of the day, almost everyone at a party loves a photobooth, so have fun!

  14. Hacksaw says:

    Why not one of those polaroid printes that don’t use ink? It is the paper PoGo I think they are called. the local evil empire here is closing them out cheap and the paper is as cheap as photo paper.granted you are limited to wallet sized photos or stickers but who cares they are bigger than you get from most photo booths

  15. Raged says:

    This seems like a lot of work. Why not just upload to Facebook? Let the photo users tag the snap shots and you can distribute them at a later date (or instantaneous if the user trusts your app access to their account). Let the users print it off themselfs, and you can censor if needed before upload.

  16. Raged says:

    I was talking about the printing.

  17. Marty says:

    I built a couple of photobooths using 8020inc metal and photoboof software. Cheap canon Powershoot, used touchscreen, inexpensive laptop all off eBay. I can build a good quality booth and have it paid for in two rentals. Inkjets are fine if you are doing booth rentals once and awhile… Just keep a backup( they are about $60-$100 on eBay)

  18. Timothy says:

    I set one of these up for my 30th. I tried a couple of freeware/trial options and decided that I’d pay for an out of the box solution (Party Booth). Grabbed a Keyboard and took off all the keys except the ones I needed (spacebar, return and esc I think). Got a 2mp webcam and two clip on spotlights which I mounted on a monitor displaying into the booth.

    You don’t need massively specc’d cam’s for this because the shots are so small but good lighting is essential. Clip on halogens with a diffuser worked for me. The other trick is making sure you set your focal point about 1-1.5m away from the camera (unless you’re using something that can auto-adjust)

    Experimented with putting the whole thing in a tent (to give some intimacy/privacy to the shots) but it was more hassle than it was worth so I dumped the tent idea and just had it sitting at eye-height near the bar.

    Got about 300 shots out of 100 or so people. Also had a box of silly hats on hand, the frequency of use scaling with the amount of beverage consumed.
    Used a Canon pixma photo printer for printing out the shots then and there, which gave everyone something to take home with them (plus I got to keep the electronic copies)

    Anyway, here’s an example of what they looked like: http://www.flickr.com/photos/42204433@N00/5035368650/

    If anyone wants further details, feel free to hit me up on Flickr

  19. Whatnot says:

    Maybe they should put this in voting booths :)

  20. justin says:

    I do this as a side-business. It can be fairly lucrative if you have a good setup and get good word of mouth. You need a more industrial setup, though, than just PVC and a few curtains. I use a Canon G-9 and PSRemote, works like a charm.

  21. ravenacious says:

    I made one of these for my wedding too. It was a bit more of a sturdy construction though, wood mostly. It took and printed out the pictures and also had a second monitor in the back that displayed random images of our families from a netbook that I hid inside. It was generally well received by our guests and we got some nice pictures from it too :o)

  22. Widj says:

    Adobe Lightroom 3 has a built in remote function now that will control most if not all newer DSLRs, including Nikon and Canon. I’ve used it for something similar but without the printing function. More for the Bride and Groom to go back and look at their friends later on.

  23. aepol says:

    i’m planning to put-up a photo booth, may i ask what are the basic needs and what software best to use to have a booth?..does DSLR Remote Pro compatible with the canon ixus 100?..thank you..

  24. NTW says:

    Having a photo booth at our wedding was the best decision we made! See the video I made below. What a great way to remember the perfect day.

  25. timmy says:

    anyone try using cheese linux?

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