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DIY "Photobooth"

We knew we couldn't afford the cost of a professional photobooth.  However, we wanted to have something similar, both as entertainment for our guests and so that we would have photos of all of our guests for our guestbook.  Fortunately, a friend volunteered to bring appropriate lighting and to take the digital pictures, so we didn't have to worry about setting up a system for photos to be taken automatically.

The system we set up had four components.  First, there was a backdrop, which we made.  Second, we had a series of silly props for guests to use.  Third, we had a guest book, made by a friend.  Finally, we had an instant photo printer bought on Craigslist.  The intent was to have one copy printed out and inserted into guest favors (bookmarks, photo frames, or calendars with a spot for a photo to be inserted).  A second copy would go into the guestbook beside each guest's signature.

The one part of this that did not work out was the printing.  The printer malfunctioned.  However, we were still able to get the photos, print them out later for use in the guestbook, and post them on our photo sharing site for our guests.

Props

To add to the fun of the photobooth, we provided a variety of props:

  • Pirate props, including a parrot, spyglass, three eye patches, gold pieces, an earring, a hook for the hand, and two different swords.
  • Knight props, including a sword, a shield, and a helmet.
  • Purple king and queen crowns.
  • Smiles on a stick, including a smiling one, a frowning one, and one with a rose between her teeth.
  • Mustaches on a stick, in six different varieties.
  • Three different pairs of glasses with mustaches, noses, and eyebrows attached.
  • An explorer's hat, a business hat, and a construction worker's hat.
  • A dozen clown noses.
  • Pink and green wigs.
  • Cartoon speech bubble made of Dry Erase material, so it could be written on, then erased and reused.
  • Cartoon thought bubble also made of Dry Erase material.
  • Dry Erase eraser and cleaning solution.
  • A Chinese fan.
  • Various Mardi Gras beads.
  • Purple pimp hat.
  • Purple boa.

Speech and Thought Bubbles

Most of the props were bought at Dollar Tree or a party store.  However, NotFroofy made the thought bubble and speech bubble. The basic shape was cut out of a piece of foam core.  She then cut out a piece from a self-stick dry erase rollResources for Reading, the same size as the foam core, and stuck it on.  She used paint markers to outline the edges so they would be easier to see in photos.

Mustaches on a Stick

We also made the mustaches on a stick ourselves.  We got a bunch of stick-on fake mustaches.  We cut out a piece of cardboard in the shape of each mustache.  We stapled each cardboard to a long straw, and then glued on the corresponding fake mustache.

Photo Backdrop Stand

Our first thought was that we would just use a large sheet taped to the wall for background.  However, because it turned out that our venue will not allow us to tape anything to the walls, we had to come up with a backdrop stand.  This one was inexpensive and simple to make.

Materials and Costs

The photo backdrop stand I made was adapted from the instructions at this link.  All of the materials except for the cane tips came from Lowe's:

  • Two 10 ft PVC pipes, 1 inch in diameter ($2.17 each x 2=$4.34)
  • Two 1 inch PVC T fittings ($0.59 each x 2 = $1.26)
  • A wooden closet hanger rod 7/8 of an inch in diameter and 8 feet long. ($11.04)
  • A pair of 3/4" rubber cane tip replacements from CVS, $4.50
  • A 6' piece of foam pipe insulation that fits the T connector ($1.26)
  • One roll of general purpose electrical tape ($0.69)

Assembly

The two PVC pipes are the frame legs, and the closet hanger rod is the top piece. You use the T connectors to hook these three things together.

  1. Slide each of the T connectors onto the top of one of the pieces of PVC pipe so that the T connector has holes at the top and bottom, plus one extending out to the side.
  2. Since the coat hanger rod is a little thinner than the 1" diameter of the T-Connector, used some electrical tape to thicken it up so that it will fit tightly into the T connectors.
  3. Slide the cane tips into the bottoms of the PVC pipes for some grip, and then use electrical tape around the top of the can tip and the bottom of the PVC pipe to hold them in place.
  4. Cut off a piece of the foam pipe insulation, then cut along the score line.  Roll up the resulting piece of foam as tightly as you can, then stuff it into the top of the T connector.  Then cut off another piece of the foam pipe insulation to put around the T connector so it sticks up above the top.  Use electrical tape to secure the whole thing in place.  This will provide padding on the top of the frame so it wouldn't damage the walls when it leans back.
  5. Slide each end of the closet coat hangar rod into a T connector.

Here is the finished stand, leaning up against the side of my house.  As you can see, even on uneven ground, you can simply adjust the angle of the legs to make the top horizontal.  You can then tape a sheet or piece of material to the top rod to use as a backdrop.

Signs

We had one sign directing guests to the photo area, and another sign for the props.  Both were created in exactly the same way as our "Closed" signs, but in a larger size.  We also managed to find a larger size of gold chipboard letters on eBay.