Setting up a photo booth for our Christmas party was always on my wish list, but with all the endless to-do lists (like cleaning this, that and the other!), it quickly become low on the priority list. I knew there were some photo booth software programs out there that you can use in conjunction with your computer and printer, but it's not exactly cheap and, honestly, I'm all for more simple solutions these days. And we of course couldn't afford renting an actual photo booth, and most of the new ones produce pretty crap quality prints. (It always amazes me when people shell out the dough to rent a photo booth, and the photos look so awful). Vintage photo booths are really the only ones that produce great pictures.
So, since I recently purchased a new remote for my camera, I decided to just set up my camera on my tripod and let our guests take the pics themselves with the remote, and then I would print them and mail them copies of the "photo strips". I LOVE getting mail and it's a dying form of communication, so I loved the idea.
I almost didn't have time to set it up, but about 15 minutes before the party, I decided to go ahead and throw it together. I set it up the tripod in my studio/office so that it would be out of the way and not in danger of getting knocked over by anyone (or any child!). I also wanted to put it in a more private place because people are willing to get more crazy with their photos when no one's watching. ; )
It ended up being fortuitous to set it up in my studio because I already had a white curtain hanging up that covers my closet. Instant backdrop! I set out one chair (because you need people to get close and cozy for photos, and I also didn't want anyone to get cut out of the frame) and I attached a clamp light to a piece of furniture to act as a fill light. All the bulbs in the room are "natural light" bulbs, which is always good for photos. I probably could've done a better job with the lighting, but it worked just fine (I'm trying to curb my perfectionist tendencies).
The booth ended up being a hit! I was so thrilled that people were into it. We had close to thirty folks, including kiddos, so it was a packed house. But that is the nice thing about having a small house - everyone's forced to mingle and work the crowd, and not separate into small groups. Ha!
I think my favorites are the ones of my friends Monica and Jenny who got creative with all the vintage crap treasures I have in my studio (see first set of photos in post). And even though I'm vehemently against selective coloring in Photoshop (the worst Photoshop trick ever!), I couldn't resist keeping those 60s girl/face cardboard hangers in color that they used as props. So cute.
It was a hoot checking out what surprises everyone left on my camera after they left. Some I couldn't post here since this is a family friendly blog. ; ) But you can probably tell which ones were taken at the beginning of the night, and those that were taken at 1am right after we found out Auburn was going to the National Championship. A good portion of the people that came to our party are our friends from Auburn (Ethan and I met there), so needless to say, it was a celebration, and the cocktails and brews were flowing.
Luckily, we had several instant designated drivers (including one that is pregnant and one is a high school daughter... ha!) and our kids went home with Nana and Papa earlier in the night so we could relax. (Yay for nearby grandparents!) As you can tell, the kids had a great time, too.
I love how all these strips together kind of look like old school photo contact sheets. Remember those? Ah, the good ole days of printing contact sheets in the dark room. Sigh.
I set these up on an 8x10 canvas in Photoshop, butted them together so I only have to make a few cuts with my Xacto knife, and had them printed at Mpix.com. Can't wait to see these in person, cut them up and put them in the mail. By the way, I've used Mpix for years and I really love the quality of their prints. I will probably try WHCC with my family photography at some point, but just putting that out there - Mpix is awesome.
My inspiration for how I designed the photo strips came from this photo booth pic I found on ebay - Rock Hudson with an "unidentified woman". ; ) I kept mine not as sepia-toned, but I loved the overlapping look of the frames. I used lettering and artwork from this kit again, by Katie Pertiet. Love!
Also, I've been making a LOT of photo book gifts the past couple weeks and I used Mixbook for the first time and was SO SO impressed with their interface for making a book. I've never quite found the perfect photo book making site. Either the print quality isn't good, or the bookmaking software is clunky and awful. I found Mixbook as rated #1 on one of those Top Ten sites, so I tried it out. It FAR exceeds any other site I've used (MyPublisher, Shutterfly, Blurb) as far as the bookmaking program goes. You'd think you were using a high-end layout program like InDesign or Quark (I'm dating myself as a designer when I say Quark, right?) But it doesn't have all the other stuff you don't need. Impressed.
Hopefully the print quality will be just as impressive. I'll let you know!
They're having a 50% off sale that ends tomorrow in case you need to make a last minute book! (and no I wasn't paid to tell you this... just thought I'd share ; )