Adding a Photo Booth to my Biz

Hey again everyone!  I apologize that I have not posted in a while, I have been busy living and loving life.  In a couple of my past posts I know I have mentioned a company that rents photo booths in the Ann Arbor area of Michigan.  I actually ended up working with them for a bit on a couple projects and after seeing their set up I have decided that I am going to move forward with the purchase of my own booth.

There are many ways to go about the whole photo booth business.  I can not believe how many options there are.  It is just like anything else though, once you start learning you start to have a better understanding of how everything works and then you can decide which direction to take.  My biggest issue is trying to decide whether or not to build my own booth or if I should purchase a fully inclusive unit where they include it all.

For anyone else out there that is a bit confused I will share what I have figured out.  There are several different parts that make up a photobooth.  I am probably generalizing quite a bit but for simplicity sake I think that will be the best way to go.  Listed below are all the separate parts that make up the most common type of photo booth set up.

  • Case/Enclosure
  • Webcam/DSLR Camera
  • Laptop computer or Desktop with Touchscreen Monitor or a Tablet/iPad
  • Photo Booth software for running the booth.  Darkroom is the name of the most widely accepted software.
  • Some type of Flash or Flash Ring
  • Dye Sub Printer or Laserjet- the former is the best option since it is much faster and does not smudge after being printed.
  • For enclosed booths you will also need some type of curtain and rod system to give the guests more privacy.

That pretty much sums up everything that when compiled into one package is a photo booth.  There are many companies out there that offer all of these things in one package to make it easier to purchase but with that convenience comes a higher price tag.  I am still trying to decide if the convenience is worth the trade off in cash.  Something else to keep in mind is customer support.  If you do have trouble with some part of your booth is the company that you purchased from going to actually help you or will they send you to the individual companies that originally made the part that is damaged.  I found one company that offers a one year warranty that is redeemed directly through them and then after that one year they promise to lend you any part that you need while your part is being repaired which I thought was pretty cool.

The 3 most important things to me while I look at this purchase are…

  1. Versatility– Since this is my first booth I would like it to be a lot of different things. I want it to function as an enclosed booth, an open air booth, a video booth, slow motion booth, green screen booth and social media sharing station.  I have come to find out that most of these functions are just a matter of the right software and not so much anything else.
  2. Portable Size– I do not own any type of trailer or truck so it is very important that the booth that I purchase is small enough to carry and transport in a passenger car.  Now a days there are plenty of options for this so it has helped me narrow down my choice but still not to the point where I know exactly which model to purchase.
  3. Price– This part is tricky because I know that I could save quite a bit of money if I buy an empty shell or enclosure but it does seem to be much easier to just buy the full package. Also, time is money so if I do put one together myself how much time will I be spending on putting it together and going around buying everything.  That is all time that I could be spending on finding potential customers.

I will be making a decision within the next couple weeks and will be sure to update when I do.  I know that most people will say that you can not get a great booth for under 10K but I am not sold on that line of thinking just yet.  The models I am looking at are around 8K and they seem to have very similar attributes.  I am also looking on Craigslist and eBay to see if anyone is getting out of the industry.  Maybe that way I can find something similar for around half the price.  If you have any insight on the matter I would love to hear from you.

Action Shots

Now these, action shots, I am not very good at, I try I really do but they never turn out how I want them to. It might be cause I am using the wrong camera or lens but I don’t feel like that is the case, I am pretty sure it’s my lack of experience in this particular field of photography. I prefer to shoot animals over humans and yes of course I use my dog on every occasion that I can. He is blind and he makes a great guinea pig for this because he actions are never coordinated because he seems to wander aimlessly around our yard.

My husband helps me a lot when I shoot our dog, he will guide him in directions that I want, sometimes this works out and sometimes it does not with our dog being blind and all. He will think that he is doing what we are asking but really he is going off in a completely different direction. This is very humorous to us, it also helps me be on alert to get a great shot.

I have gone to the zoo a lot to practice getting action shots of the animals that are there but usually the animals are never active enough to get an action shot. Every once in awhile they will be, like for example, when I went once the chimpanzees were having the time of their lives playing around in their enclosure. There was a younger baby chimp and an older chimp running around with a piece of purple fabric and having the best time. This made for good pictures. The zoo was busy at this time so it took me awhile before I good get into a good position, thank goodness the chimps were still in a playful mood when I was able to. I got some real shots of them fighting over that purple fabric. In the background I also caught other chimps just sitting or watching and in some pictures I just focused on the ones hanging out in the background. I actually liked these photos better. Maybe I am just not a fan of the action shot. Either that or I am just not good at it.

My husband and I have even gone to the local horse track so I can get pictures of the horses as they race around the track. My husband says he goes so he can support my hobby but I know that he loves to watch the horses race so it turns out to be a win/win situation for us. I will try to sneak down to get as close to the track as I can, usually I cannot get as close as I want but I get close enough to get a good picture. When we first starting doing this at the horse track my pictures were horrendous, all blurry. It took us a couple of time of going to figure out what I was doing wrong, for this I took my digital camera that way I wouldn’t be wasting film. I realized that I was not focusing on the right thing, I would just take a picture when the horse rode by but now I follow the horse as it comes around the track and snap shot after shot until the horse is too far away. Not all of them will come out but most do and I am satisfied with the end product.

I will continue to try to master the action shot, you can never be great at everything but I love a challenge and look forward to making some more blurry action photos!

Thanks for sticking around


Art Pieces

I have a cousin, Dan, who is a metal smith, he has gone to school and just recently graduated with his bachelors in art, he is now off to a job in New York, not the city, a town north of the city but still is fabulous. He has participated in many shows, sometimes as just an artist displaying al of his pieces or sometimes he has been a demonstrator, showing how he creates his pieces. He is pretty amazing.

The reason I bring him up today is because he has on occasion asked my to photograph his work. I am always up for this, some of his pieces are just mind blowing, the things that he can do with metal absolutely amazes me. So, the only difficult about this is that we live in different states, even with him moving we were in different states. He moved away after high school to attend a really good school in Illinois, but from where I am it is only a eight hour car ride. By myself that drive is terrible, I cannot be in a car by myself for that lone, luckily I only had to drive once, there and back by myself. My husband has come with me on numerous occasions, he and my cousin are pretty close and other times, his brother my other cousin and his wife have come with me and there have been a couple time when all four of us have gone together, we mad a vacation out of those times. They don’t happen that often because of everyone’s schedule but the times that has happened have been the most fun.

It is much easier for me to go to him rather than for him to com eot me because it would be very difficult to transport his art here, also it just seems silly for him to do that. But when I do I bring both my digital camera and my non digital camera, you never know which one is going to give the impression that he wants. I was send him the digital photos in a drive and have him do with them what he wants but once I am done developing the film from my other camera I will send him the photos in the mail. This way he has as many options to choose from, and he has some to add to his portfolio or he can use them to promote upcoming shows. Helping him with this always gives me some anxiety because I am not a professional but it seems that he is with all of his art but he has never complained about the quality and has always asked again for my help, so that’s good.

Thanks all!


Creeks and Ponds

Moving water  or standing water for that matter, is one of my other things to photograph. You can interpret so much from water, you can see anything you like in water. There are so many great shadows and prisms of light that water holds, it’s almost as magical as trees but not quite, trees are my favorite. Water though you can get so many different textures with, it will all depend on what is in the water, like stones, sand, plants, sticks, fallen branches or even fish, depending on where you are. Then you have the bank where the water meets the land and then you have grass, dirt or more stones and rocks. The possibilities for great pictures are endless.

The reflection of light off the water is amazing, you can get wonderful colors and with the bottom of the creek or pond or even a river will have a great contrast to the reflection. You can get great big rocks to small pebbles, those always add a nice contrast. Depending on where you are you can even capture a little part of the base of a tree if you can get the right angle. But I like to just focus on one main object and have everything else be secondary to what ever it is that I choose to photograph. When I am shooting water, I make that the main focus, so what ever happens to be in the background is slightly out of focus or just not something that will draw you eye right away.

I may choose to focus on the bottom of said chosen creek or pond and have, for example, the stones that are settled on the bottom be my main focus and have lets say a fish that happens to swim by be a secondary focus that you wouldn’t notice right off the bat, once you took in the whole scene then you would notice the fish. This is how I shoot the majority of all my pictures. I prefer this way because it lets me be real creative with the pictures, once I get the film, yes sometimes I still use a roll of film-no judging, or camera to my computer then I can enhance the pictures in ways that were impossible to do with a Polaroid camera back in the day. The technology has come so far with photography that if you can take a picture then you can make it show how ever you want. At the very least though, I try to take the best picture I can that way it seems more natural but I do love to use the computer to exaggerate certain aspects of it. I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that this is just a hobby and I am in no way close to being a professional.

Thanks for joining me!




Majestic Trees

Trees are a wonder of nature, I love to photograph trees. I do sometimes shoot the whole tree but usually I pick a part of the tree like a branch or a bunch of the leaves or even bugs that I see crawling around. Sometimes I will even take pictures of the stump with all the roots poking out of the ground. Trees are a great subject, each one is different from the last and brings a different aspect to each picture.

The  Weeping Willow is by far my favorite tree to photograph. I had one in my backyard growing up and when I wasn’t taking pictures of it I was sitting in it reading a book. It had this little nook in it close to the base that my little body fit in perfectly and I would sit there and read. The drooping branches gave a lot of shade so it was a perfect spot to read in the summer. Until we had a major thunderstorm and a lightening bolt struck it and crack it in half. I woke up the following morning to see my buddy in half, one part laid across our yard and the other part broke the fence and was in the our neighbors yard. I cried, I seriously cried, it was one of the saddest moments of my childhood. After that, we had a big metal box sitting in the spot that the tree was. A depressing reminder of what was.

weeping willow

Besides pictures of my dog, I probably photograph trees the most. I have taken walks in the woods and found trees that have fallen or have broken branches, photos of these make such a powerful statement if they are photographed right. It will all depend on the lighting and shadows of the particular branch or trunk or stump. I have even photographed trees that have been uprooted after a heavy rain. It takes my breath away how amazingly beautiful it is. It is a tragedy too, don’t get me wrong, to see a dead tree but such is nature.

I am proud to say that I took a trip a couple years ago to California to the Redwood Forest. I would live there if I could. I have never seen anything that compares to a Redwood Tree. These are so massive that it is impossible to capture a picture of a single, whole tree. I spent three days in the park taking as many pictures as I could and I still wasn’t ready to leave but I had to, I will return again, hopefully many more times.

Thanks for reading, Suzie

Polaroid Cameras

I can remember when I was nine years old and my parents got me a Polaroid camera for my birthday, it was the best present I got that year and it completely changed my life. I have always wanted to be a photo taker. Since before I got that first camera and when I got it was the start of a whole new me.


Now obviously, you cannot not do with a Polaroid camera the things that you can do with the cameras of today but I made to because that it all I knew and had. I started out just snapping picture after picture after picture not even paying any attention to where things were or as I now know, not paying attention to the lightening, shadows, staging or anthing else one would do to make a picture great, I was just snapping away and wasting a lot of film because I was not happy with the pictures and my parents reminding my on numerous occasions that film was not cheap.

So I would go to the library and read books on photography, I did not really understand most of it but I picked up the basics. Slowly but surely my pictures started to improved, I learned to focus on a particular object and not just snap away. I would pose and rearrange things so the scene was not all chaotic, each picture started to flow. Not all flowed well, some where still lacking and of course I couldn’t do anything but take the pictures, I didn’t have the tools or technology to do anything with the negative to manipulate it in anyway, I have to use my skills before I took the picture.

Lets just say that as the years went on and my cameras kept improving the quality of my pictures began to improve as well. I also took all the photography classes I could in high school and college, I didn’t plan on having photography be my career I just wanted all the knowledge I could so I could make a hobby on it and maybe do some side work for friends and family. That has worked out so far, I have done a lot of work for friends, with things like taking pictures at parties and getting photos available to those that were there, to actually doing a friends wedding, now that was nerve racking, I don’t think I slept the whole week before because I was so nervous. I did not have the confidence in myself to think that I would be able to take on something as important as a wedding but once it was over and I saw the pictures that I took, I realized that I do have some talent when it comes to this, my friends were blown away when they saw the pictures which in turn made my confidence rise.

So I basically just take each project and on a day to day basis, so I do not overwhelm myself, this is just a side job that I do, I also have my regular full time job plus I do need to live my life, which photography is a huge part of my life but I do not let it consume me. So I just take the projects as they come and try to do the best I can!

Thanks for reading, Suzie