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Wedding guest dressing up for a photo booth


I love my job and generally go home with a happy little glow of satisfaction in my heart at the end of a wedding day. This is usually accompanied by aching legs, mental fatigue and an almost overwhelming desire to put my feet up! Therefore, if you are going to ask me if I provide a photo booth for the evening then I’m afraid the answer is a resounding “no” for all of the reasons stated above!


I’ve often thought that it’s a bit of a shame not to offer this as a service as I do actually quite like the idea but if I was to be the photographer it would be a bit weird to spend the whole of the wedding day quietly observing and recording to then turn into a crazy photo booth photographer in the evening! There is also the issue of equipment and logistics so, for me at least, it doesn’t really make sense!


Having observed over the last few years quite a large number of photo booths in action I know for a fact that their success often lies in the hands of the person who is running it. Not all of your guests will feel completely at ease acting up and trying to be funny in front of a stranger – especially if they are actually taking the photographs – they can also be quite expensive either with up front costs or with extra print costs so it can make sense to have a go at DIYing it! Obviously it is much cheaper and your guests may well feel much more comfortable running it themselves and the results that you get ie hilarious photographs of everyone letting their hair down, could well be much better than you would get with a pro booth.


So, don’t be daunted by the idea of what on earth to do to get your DIY photo booth show on the road – I’m here to help and guide you!!


1) Beg or borrow a fairly decent camera preferably with a built in flash – an oldish digital SLR would be perfect and you might find that you can borrow one quite easily or they can be bought on Ebay for relatively little money. You will also need a sturdy tripod to mount the camera on and a long cable release – this will allow your guests to take pictures of themselves if they want to although it’s good fun for it to become a bit of a group activity and for everyone to take pictures of each other! Make sure that you have a decent size memory card for the camera and that it’s batteries are fully charged – possibly with spares.

2) You will need some sort of make shift background. It doesn’t have to be anything particularly exotic and could be anything from some old curtians to some printed plastic sheeting – it will need to be a reasonable size though as people will want to have their photographs taken in groups and probably standing up so you will need a fair bit of material. Take some time over this as nothing looks worse than photographs where the background runs out at the edges of the picture. Whatever you choose will need to be hung up as well and most of the time a combination of clothes pegs, gaffer tape, long bean poles and lengths of wood combined with a bit of ingenuity will do the trick.

3) Props. Go to town here, the sillier the better! Again Ebay and borrowing is the best bet.

4) Making it all work. Have everything ready to be put up an assembled by a couple of competent bridesmaids and/or ushers during the meal. Also make sure that they have had a trial run and have set everything up before, made sure that it works and looks good! During the speeches announce that there will be a photo booth and that you would love it if all of your guests would have a go in it at some point over the evening. The designated helpers can encourage people and help people to get the ball rolling in the early part of the evening and then it should fairly much run itself.

5) Afterwards you need to make sure that you safely download and back up the images. You could potentially load up a photo gallery of them so that everyone can see themselves or possibly use the pictures as little cards or gifts – whatever happens keep them safe!


Bouquets reflected in a wedding car window


“How many pictures will we get from our wedding?”

This is an extremely common question and is sort of a “how long is a piece of string” type issue! Bear with me for a moment whilst I skirt around the question a bit and then I promise I will quote some actual real numbers towards the end!


Firstly it’s probably helpful for me to explain a little bit about how I see and shoot a wedding day – I will generally photograph about 600 or so “moments” at an average wedding. I’m talking about interactions and storytelling moments and things happening and that type of image. For each moment I will often take two, three or more frames – often trying to improve the composition, timing or expression each time – so that from an average wedding I might come home with between 1000 and 1500 shots of “moments” plus a number of more static record shots like pictures of the cake and flowers and family photographs etc.


Once I start editing the first thing I do is find the best frame of each moment and this generally leaves me with a rough edit of around 5/600 images. Now logically, and to a certain extent, it would make sense to pass these 600 or so pictures on to the bride and groom however I then do a further edit. I’m ensuring that there are no duplicates, the quality is consistent and that there aren’t any images that don’t say anything, add to the coverage or simply aren’t needed. I consider it part of my professionalism to ensure that it’s me rather than the bride and groom who goes through everything with a fine toothed comb!


The resulting set of images is usually between 250 and 300 depending on the size and length of the wedding. Now I do know that many photographers provide many more than this and that there are some that provide less but that’s the number that, to me seems to balance and work well. Have you ever tried looking through several hundred photographs? It’s incredibly time consuming and really not necessary and, even for a fantastic wedding they are going to become repetitive.


Also, for me, I’m not trying to give you an all inclusive every second blow by blow account of the day. The 300 pictures will be key, quality images that will distil the essence of the day and record the key moments, interactions and emotions that are particular to you – I’m not particularly interested in providing couples with 15 images of their wedding cake all taken from different angles! I can also ensure that each image gets the time it deserves in the digital darkroom and a reasonable number of images gives me an opportunity to individually hand grade each picture until it is as good as I can possibly get it!


So, there you have it! The quick answer is 250 – 300 and the longer answer is above. After the wedding I’m always very happy to change pictures from colour to black and white and vice versa and always happy to look for a picture of Auntie June if there isn’t one in my initial selection.


If you’re planning your wedding and looking for a photographer then give me a shout. I’m always happy to answer questions, help where I can and generally chat wedding stuff!

Wedding couple walking hand and hand in a field


Now I’m a bit of a realist. Don’t get me wrong – I can be romantic, spontaneous and idealistic alongside the most deluded of my friends (!) but, deep down I generally take the view that if it’s going to go wrong it will! I’m not particularly morose or pessimistic in my demeanour but my inner Yorkshireman and rather dry sense of humour generally dictates that I will usually expect the worse. I have a dear and very funny friend who takes the view that if you always expect the worse to happen, if things turn out better than that then it’s cause to celebrate!


Happily, things generally do turn out much better than I expect they will so I’m generally in a happy place. I think that’s a much better way to be than to be perpetually expecting everything to be wonderful and then going through life in a constant state of disappointment!


Weddings are a great case in point. Whatever you do don’t expect your wedding to be perfect. In fact, if you are prepared for the worse then, when it doesn’t turn out so bad you will be thrilled!


So, here are ten not great things that will probably happen at your wedding. Be prepared, embrace the misery and feel the joy when it all turns out OK!


1) You will be physically and mentally exhausted

Everyone describes the emotional roller coaster but be prepared for the fact that it might physically feel a bit of a struggle as well. It’s very easy to not eat in the morning when you are getting ready and all too easy to drink too much champagne. If you follow this on into the afternoon with just a few nibbles of canapes and more champagne you can really start to feel worse for wear by dinner time. It’s very possible that you will become dehydrated and over hungry – not a great combination – throw a hot day and a big dress into the equation and you can see what could happen!


2) You won’t speak to your husband

Everyone will be demanding to talk to you and you both will inevitably not spend that much time together. It’s actually incredibly difficult to get a photograph of the new couple together as a photographer because they are just too busy! Think about it…….you don’t really get chance to chat during the ceremony, when you come out it’s all hugs confetti and shouting, at the reception you will feel as though you need to speak to all of your friends and family etc etc etc. It’s virtually impossible to get a few moments alone unless you pre plan it!


3) You will have a wedding meltdown

At some point, probably a few days before the big day a few things will not quite be going to plan, you will feel under quite a bit of pressure, probably be a bit over tired and excited and you will go into meltdown. I shout and stamp my feet like a demented toddler when it happens to me…….you will have your own way…….you know what it is!


4) Going for a wee will be a nightmare

I’m assuming that you have some very close bridesmaid friends because, well I don’t know the details, but I do know that it takes some brides a VERY long time and a lot of dedicated bridesmaid helpers to negotiate a bodily function and a wedding dress. Did you really imagine that you would keep your dignity intact? You have been warned!


5) Your dress will get dirty and will tear

At the very least the underside will become dusty and dirty, flies frequently get trapped inside the layers, leaves and twigs stick to them as well. You probably aren’t used to dragging around a long train as so you will probably catch it on something – if that doesn’t happen then it will possibly get trodden on and torn….it’s very difficult to negotiate dance floor in a big dress in the semi darkness without some sort of minor sartorial disaster striking.



6) Your family will annoy you

As with most families you probably love them all dearly but equally they do your head in! They will never all be where they should be, they will always forget to bring something important, you will never be able to get them all together quickly for the family photographs, one might get too drunk, one might just try to take over, one will probably say something they really shouldn’t. They certainly won’t be perfect on your wedding day but it’s your friends and family that will make it so special as well!


7) It will all feel like a mad rush

Everyone always says that your wedding day flies by. Indeed it does, in fact you might find that despite all of your careful planning, everything feels like a bit of a mad rush and you don’t really have time to savour the moment. You could well feel that you have missed out and that you didn’t have time to do all of the little things that you wanted to do. Weddings inevitably run late, time schedules slip and it can often be a struggle to fit everything in.


8) Someone will let you down

At some point someone won’t quite do what you expected them to do. You might find that a friend won’t put themselves out or that someone who you really thought would come simply doesn’t. You might feel that you are lacking in support from someone that you thought you could rely on or that someone does something that you feel isn’t appropriate for the occasion. Conversely you could well find that someone that you really didn’t expect to comes up trumps and you see them in a completely new light!


9) You will worry that everybody is having a good time

You might be having a great time but you might well worry that everyone else isn’t. You could become quite worried about this and stress about the fact that you haven’t had time to get round and speak to everyone. Not everyone will have a good time, some people find this type of large event tiring and stressful, it’s quite possible that they are only there to be polite!


10) You will be relieved when it’s all over

It’s supposed to be one of the best days in your life but it’s also a huge stress. It can be such a relief when all of that planning and organising is over, you are married, everyone leaves you alone and you’re not the centre of attention anymore. Anyway not to worry – you hopefully will have an amazing honeymoon to look forward to!