Ready For Your Close Up

Photo booths and green screens: What you need to know.

When ShutterBooth launched 10 years ago, it was the first photo booth company in Michigan. Now they do 1,400 events a year

Photo booths are not new, but the technology has improved immensely. Just recently, I was looking at the three-ring binder of printed Polaroid photos from my bar mitzvah. It wasn’t the photo booth of the 21st century, but my parents had a couple of older teens (family friends) take Polaroids of our guests and paste them on colorful pages so the guests could leave their mazel tov wishes next to the photos. Companies were also available during the middle to late 1980s to print Polaroids and place them in Lucite standing frames for the guests to take home as souvenirs of the event.

Fast forward to today and there are countless companies available with the ability to quickly print high-resolution photos of your guests with a number of gimmicks. These photo booths have become increasingly popular at not only bar and bat mitzvahs, but also at weddings, birthday parties and corporate events. Now guests can control their own backgrounds in green-screen photo booths simply by tapping among pre-chosen images on a touch screen. They can dress up in costumes, record a video greeting, grab props and have unlimited photos printed, with their party logo, instantly.

As guests have come to expect instant sharing on their social networks, new technologies in photo booths have been pushed out. The latest feature photo booth companies like Masserman Photography in Keego Harbor, which is rolling out a slow-motion photo booth implementing video clips set to music.

Star Trax Entertainment, based in Ferndale, now offers customized Snapchat Geo-Filters. This means that when guests are at the venue, they can choose the official Snapchat filter for that event. Star Trax is also offering Mirror Me, which lets guest look directly into a mirror to pose for their photo.

Many photo booth options have a GIF component, which allows the guest to create a very short animation sound. Photographer Jay Dreifus is offering this now and it’s called GIFy. Many photo booth vendors offer green screen technology, which allows your guests to choose from backgrounds chosen by the host. While the features may be the same across the board, be careful in choosing your photo booth vendor by making sure that you have seen their finished products. Remember, your guests want to take home a memento from the event and the quality should be something with which you’re going to be happy.

FotoBomb (here and above) lets guests choose superimposed backgrounds, provides social media options and includes a memory book of photos

Stick With Proven Pros

Many photo booth companies offer similar features, but not all photo booth companies are equal. I learned this lesson the hard way at my son’s recent bar mitzvah party. Thinking that photo booth operation is a no brainer, I chose to try a new company in this industry. They had recently bought a photo booth and had been a vendor at several events, but had never worked at a bar mitzvah before. Their pricing was lower than the competition, but they still offered all the extras like props and instant sharing to mobile phones, and we would get digital files of all the photos taken that night. Additionally, they offered unlimited prints for the guests, which is a nice feature as there are often many guests in the same photo and everyone wants a copy.

Unfortunately, they didn’t pay much attention to the lighting on the guests’ faces and the photos were overexposed. They also lacked experience using green screens, and the guests covered the bar mitzvah logo in many of the photos. These pitfalls can be avoided by hiring a photo booth company with more experience.

Star Trax provides photos in a cardboard frame or clients can upgrade to Lucite frames

In Metro Detroit, there are many photo booth options. Some local professional photographers, like Brian Masserman, offer their own photo booths. With professional photographers, you can usually be certain the photos will be of a high quality as they are experts when it comes to lighting. There are also companies that specialize in photo booths and green screens like Fotofoto, an inflatable photo booth launched by local teen Ryan Findling, Star Trax, ShutterBooth and FotoBomb.

Some photo booths are enclosed structures, while others are open air. It’s important to know the difference as you’ll likely get a choice, and enclosed ones usually cost a little more money. Many companies offer green screens so you can add different backgrounds after the photo is taken. Other options include animated GIFs and graffiti walls.

Teenager Ryan Findling founded Fotofoto, which provides photo strips with the party logo taken inside an inflatable booth.

Teens love sharing their photo booth silliness instantly to social media, so it’s important that the option to post to Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat is available. Because teens love taking selfies, ask your bar or bat mitzvah teen if they and their friends would prefer having a Selfie Booth (Star Trax offers this) where the guests can pose and then instantly print or share any photos from the event.

Other questions you might want to ask before contracting your photo booth company include how many hours of service they offer (prepare for some down time during the candle-lighting ceremony and speeches). Will they print an unlimited number of photos? Will guests have the option of different backgrounds? Will photos be 4×6 inch or photo strips?

It’s also wise to ensure the company has a backup plan if there is an electrical outage or technical difficulties (printers break down). It’s also nice for the hosts to get a digital folder of all the photos taken in the photo booth, but don’t assume it’s automatically part of the package.

No matter which photo booth vendor you choose, be certain they will have at least two attendants on site to manage the photo booth so guests can enjoy it and quickly get back to the party.

Rabbi Jason Miller

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here