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Photo booths are popular at weddings and events

It’s fun to take silly photos with your friends at wedding receptions and events. In the past few years, more couples have been providing photo booths to entertain their guests at their receptions, and the takeaway photo strips double as favors. Most booths provide the entire album of digital photos to the couple at the end of the event, so they can see how much their guests enjoyed the activity.

One of the most common photo booths is the portable “black box” booth. These booths are available from rental companies, which deliver and pick up the booths. Often an attendant is sent to help the guests and reload photo paper as needed.

Most photo booths — whether black-box or open-air style — offer the same features: photo props with a backdrop and printed photos for guests.

Others offer the option of emailing the photo or uploading it to Facebook. Yet others allow guests to record a video to be sent to the party host. “It’s a great keepsake as well as a treat to the guests,” says Bonnie Miller, event specialist at Celebrations, the Party Store. Celebrations rents the black-box style of photo booth and includes an attendant. There are other portable, fold-up photo booths that are similar to the enclosed black-box space but lighter in weight.

Open-air photo booths: One of the most distinctive photo booths available in the South Sound was custom-designed by Mike Abella, owner of 1000 Words Events. It’s a kiosk-style booth featuring an elegant tower that is illuminated from inside. On one side, guests stand to have their photos taken while, on the other side, other guests watch the photos on a monitor mounted on the booth. “I designed the booth because when I was starting the business, there was no one selling photo booths other than the old-school photo-booth enclosures.”

The booth includes professional lighting and cameras. Another feature is an adjustable tripod head, which allows the operator to move the camera to shoot subjects at various heights, including guests in wheelchairs. Props are provided, and each guest in the photo receives a print. Abella, a professional photographer, often staffs the booth himself. If not, he sends an attendant.

Volkswagen van doubles as photo booth: Abella wanted to add to his photo-booth offerings, so he bought a 1968 VW van and installed a photo booth inside. He drives the van to a variety of gigs, including the Tacoma Rainiers Sunday home games, casinos, city events, corporate picnics, weddings and graduation parties. “What makes this booth different from anything out there is that it is a great conversation piece,” says Abella. “It seems like everyone owned a van at one time or another; I hear all kinds of stories while I’m running the booth.”

At the open-air and van booths, the client chooses what guests will receive — for example, a photo strip or a single photo. The booths can also produce photo buttons or photo keychains on site. The client receives a password-protected online gallery plus a CD of their photos.

Photographer photo booths: Some wedding photographers offer photo booths at wedding receptions. They will provide and set up props and a backdrop. Other photographers offer advice about where to purchase props and backdrops, but don’t provide them.

Photographer Krystal Switzer, KS Photos, offers a photo-booth service in which a professional photographer takes the photos, often capturing movement and candid moments. Immediately after the event, the photos are uploaded to an online gallery for guests and clients to review, share and download. She doesn’t offer props or backdrops, but will help select them and offer tips on where to rent or purchase them.

Photos by Tacoma photographer, Mike Abella, 1000 Words Events

Click on a photo to enlarge.

Published on December 26, 2016.

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