Document 168512

The Fortune Photo Booth
Guide to Making Money
Renting Photo Booths
(Version 1.0 updated 4-24-2014)
By: Soren Coughlin-Glaser
Contact me directly at:
(503) 230-1181
[email protected]
Chapter 1: Introduction
Why Should You Start Renting Photo Booths?
(Spoiler: To make money!)
I began renting photo booths as a side business to my
photography business in Portland OR in 2006. After 4
years my little side business became my main business,
and now I shoot photos on the side.
I can’t promise you are going to make Gazillions of dollars
your first year renting photo booths, but with a little work
marketing a photo booth rental business, and running it
like an actual business you can make a great living renting
photo booths.
How much? I’ll get into the details throughout this e-book,
but I rent out booths for about $200 an hour and my costs
for supplies for that hour is, at the most, $7.50. Many
times an hour costs less than $3. If I have 100 events a
year at an average of 4 hours per event I can bring in
$80,000. With 2-4 booths and a good marketing plan I can
bring in more than that. Your Gross income from renting
photo booths depends on how well you market in your
area, how much your local clients are willing to spend and
how many events you can book.
Of course, running a business or any sort has overhead
costs and advertising costs, but the photo booth rental
business can be run part time and from your home or
garage, and with our Fortune Photo Booth portable photo
booth kits, doesn’t require any special storage or transport
because it fits in a car and can be set up by a single person.
I am writing this free e-book to give you some in depth
information about the photo booth rental business and
our Fortune Photo Booth photo booth kits, but you can
apply the knowledge in this book to any photo booth you
might purchase. Throughout this e-book you’ll learn about
my personal experiences renting booths to make money
and give you some basic tools to start off your photo
booth rental business on the right foot.
Who am I?
I’m Soren, owner of Fortune Photo Booth (sales) and
Portland Photo Booth (rentals). Back in 1996 I was a
newbie wedding and event photographer in Portland
Oregon. I began renting photo booths in 2006 as an add-
on to my existing wedding packages, which turned into
such a hit that my main business is now renting and
manufacturing photo booths for events.
I want to share my passion for photo booths with you.
With my knowledge of starting a photo booth rental
company I can teach you the essentials so that you can
have a successful rental business too. If you have any
questions about my photo booth ideas, philosophies or my
photo booth kits feel free to call me to discuss personally
at: 503-230-1181 (pacific time zone) or email me at:
[email protected]
I sell a complete turnkey photo booth system that you can
use to start or upgrade your own photo booth rental
business, but this E-book should provide useful
information for anyone in the industry no matter which
booth you purchase. (See more at: )
Read on, and you will see how renting photo booths to
weddings, events and parties is a fun and lucrative small
business that can be part time or full time, and allow you
to be your own boss.
What is a photo booth?
Photo Booths are a popular rental item at weddings,
Ba/Bar Mitzvahs, company parties and business events.
This e-book will guide you through the process of
purchasing and developing a money making rental
business that you can treat as part time or full time, and
run from your home.
For this e-book a photo booth is an automatic kiosk type
structure that people go into and push a button. The
Booth then automatically takes a certain number of shots
and automatically prints the images either in a strip or a
custom layout. These booths can have a curtain or be
open air against a scene or background. This e-book does
not discuss the photographer shooting groups and printing
them type “photo booth.”
How I Started
My business model for renting photo booths to events
evolved from my 18 years in the event industry. Back
when I started as an event photographer there simply was
no photo booth rental industry. A few companies existed
that had a truck and a trailer and rented out 1000 lb.
photo booths, but it was a tiny niche business that most
people hadn’t ever heard of. The old booths had to be
filled with chemicals and maintained with parts that were
only available from foreign suppliers.
I looked at purchasing an old chemical booth but soon
began researching how to build my own with the new
digital cameras that were becoming popular. I spent way
more time and money on the project than I would have
had I just purchased a traditional booth, but what I ended
up with was a product and a business model for renting
portable photo booths that you can adopt and make
money copying.
I didn’t invent the photo booth rental business model but I
believe I created a unique variation of it utilizing my event
industry knowledge and my novel portable photo booth
system. (see: and )
The Business Model (Free is the key word)
The basic idea behind making money renting photo booths
to events is that the event or party host pays a flat fee or
hourly charge for you to deliver and run a photo booth at
the event venue. Guests in the photo booth go in for
“free” and receive a photo booth strip for “free.” Free is in
quotes because while the guests go in for free, the host is
paying you.
When talking with a perspective photo booth renter, use
the word “FREE” with them. “The guests go in for FREE,
and get a two FREE photo booth strips.” The props are
provided for FREE.” Everyone loves a FREE photo booth!”
A similar word is “GIFT” which I like to use to emphasize
that there is a product I am offering the client which is a
GIFT to their guests. “Your wedding guests get the GIFT of
a photo strip compliments of you.”
Additionally our photo booths save a copy of the digital
images which are either placed on line for all the guests to
view and or given to the party hosts on a CD or flash drive
after the event. The more of this you can do for FREE for
the client the more they will like your services. Of course
you bundle all the services in your quote for the client.
Another use for the saved images is to project the images
from the booth onto a screen at the event. This can add
quite a buzz to the photo booth at an event. You can even
display ads for your photo booth company mixed into the
slideshow. When I do this, I play a slideshow of the actual
images taken in pretty fast order, no more than 2 seconds
a photo. Strips don’t fit on a screen very well.
Alternatively, you can create a custom grid of 2 on top two
on the bottom photo strips that can be projected. I
suggest to any photo booth owners out there that the
program Hot Folder Prints from Breezesys
( be used to create an easy slide
show of the images and create custom layouts. You don’t
even need to use Breeze’s photo booth program to be able
to use Hot Folder Prints. There will be more about specific
photo booth programs in a later section.
A quick note about software: Photo booths require
software and computers. Most of the computers are
Windows based. And while you may be a computer expert
you will need to learn how to be pretty good at things like
managing print queues, installing and managing drivers
and firmware, installing and learning programs, and file
management. But you shouldn’t be afraid, because one of
my main goals at Fortune Photo Booth is to make sure that
my customers who purchase booths from us know
everything they need to know, no matter how little back
ground they have with cameras or computers. The more
you know and are comfortable with the software and
equipment the easier it is to run a photo booth rental
business, and I help you get there.
Why Free Works
Free really is the key word here and what makes this
business so successful. Go to any mall with a pay photo
booth in it and watch it for a while…. Wait around and see
how many people go in and spend $5 for their photos. I
bet you’ll come away from the pay photo booth thinking
“how can that make money?” at $5 a pop for photos
almost no one will do it. Everyone loves a photo booth,
but paying for the pleasure just isn’t worth it most of the
time. Now, go to a wedding or event where the pre-paid
“Free” photo booth is and you’ll see hundreds of people
using and enjoying the booth. People have so much fun in
a photo booth when it is free, that a party host will pay
you hundreds of dollars for bringing the booth to their
party. This business model has brought event photo
booths into the mainstream. In fact, in most areas of the
country having a photo booth at a wedding is now a
tradition much like hiring a DJ, or florist.
Coming from the photography world makes me
uncomfortable with the thought, but I have even brought
my photo booth to weddings that didn’t hire a
professional photographer. While a photo booth is not a
good replacement for a professional photographer at a
wedding, it does sometimes replace one at small events or
company parties that may have hired an event
photographer in the past.
Because I have a background in photography, I also make
myself available, for a small upcharge, to roam around an
event take candid photos of the guests. This is a great way
to make a little more from a photo booth rental event, and
adds quite a bit of value to your services. It can also be a
great way to learn about event photography while you
grow and expand your event business. The basic
equipment needed for this is only a camera – a decent
event lens like a 24-70mm, and an on camera flash. Just
send the clients a disc of images after the event, usually at
the same time as you send the photo booth images.
Unlimited Prints
When you advertise your services another key word (I
think this is #3 word after “Free and Gift”) is UNLIMITED.
You offer unlimited prints to your clients, but with prints
costing only $0.15 per pop and people taking over a
minute in the booth you are really limited to less than
$9/hour in print liability.
Why Photo Booths are Popular (and not going away
any time soon)
Photo booth rentals at parties are getting more popular all
the time. I know because I see increased demand for my
services (see every year
even though my competition gets bigger every year.
I feel like the number of photo booths in a region or city
can equal to or greater than the number of photographers
in that area.
And I see a benefit to having competition. The best thing
to happen to rental photo booths in my area has been all
the competition from other rental companies. When I
started out there was no market for photo booth rentals in
Portland because no one knew they existed, now people
are looking for me instead of me going out to find the
business. The more photo booths get used and seen, the
more people will think about including that service for
their own events in the future.
What You Need To Get Started
Bare minimum you need a photo booth kit and some
paper/ink for the printer. You can get started with a
simple kit from Fortune Photo Booth for under $4000 and
upgrade the booth later if you find you love it, but you will
probably find that our Standard or even Deluxe models $5$6K will make enough money to pay for itself quickly
Our booths are meant to be portable, which means a
single person can transport and set up and run a booth
with just a normal car. This allows a photo booth operator
to not have employees which can cut your operating costs
It also gives you the opportunity to have more than one
booth and be able to train employees easily. Your pool of
employees is huge, since the operator doesn’t have to be
big, or strong, or own a special vehicle. Once you expand
into multiple photo booths your opportunity to make
money also expands.
In my experience selling photo booths to entrepreneurs, it
is not uncommon for my client to book several paying
events before the booth ships to them (2-3 weeks)
To be a successful business you’ll have to treat your new
company like a real business. This means contacting the
Secretary of State’s office for your sate and registering
your business name and finding out whether your state
requires you to collect State and local sales taxes. Once
you have an official business name in your state/city you
are ready for your virtual store front.
There aren’t many photo booth rental companies that I
know of that have a retail space. Most are run from
homes of individuals except for rental shops that are part
of another local business such as a photography studio or
event rental business. So that is great news because there
is no need to rent space. If you have a closet or garage
you have enough space to store one of our portable photo
Then you need a website….
You do, however, need a web site. Your website will be
your store front. It doesn’t need to be a fancy website,
but it will become your most important form of advertising
for your company. No matter what advertising you do,
even word of mouth, and handing out business cards
personally, your clients will go to your web page before
booking an event.
If you start out with no money left for hiring someone to
make you a web site at least you can register a domain
name for your self online at and reserve
your name on the internet. Then for less than $10 a
month you can throw up a starter page with a photo and
contact info for your new rental business, and put money
into the site as you grow.
It takes Google months to find new sites and get you into
its search engine. And if there is a lot of competition in
your area it can take longer to get on the first page of
search results. In my own rental business I still get over
50% of my new business from people Googling for a photo
booth rental company in my area. (I talk about Google like
it is the only search engine… and I think it really is. Don’t
ignore Google, it is what works)
Since Google and the internet are so important to my
business, I would urge you to take your website seriously,
and if you don’t know much about it, there are many
business out there, including ours, who can create and
manage a web page for you. Of all your expenses after
purchasing a photo booth, your web page is the most
important to your success.
Since every company has a web site, you can use this
knowledge to check up on your competition. Google
photo booth rentals (your city) and see who pops up. How
many are there? What are they charging? How attractive
are their web sites? Knowing what your competition is up
to is an important piece of your business. You don’t want
to start out charging $300/hour when the competition is
charging $200, and you visa versa, you don’t want to be
charging $100/hour when you could be getting $200.
We offer a $750 web page package with our photo booths
that gets you a web page with very little effort. See my
own site at for an
example. Or go to Craig’s list and see who in your area can
do it for you, or a local community college may have
students that are dying to build their resumes for very
little cost.
But whatever you do, you must realize that your web site
is your biggest source of advertising and the face of your
company. Skimp on your web site and you are throwing
away the money a good web site would bring in. Design a
great web site that Google will love will pay off more than
any other investment in your company.
The next step is SEO. After you have a domain name and a
website, SEO (search engine Optomization) is what will
make your site the top ranked Google site. If you want
you can search for SEO on the internet and learn how to
do it yourself. If you created your website yourself you
may be able to handle SEO yourself. But, it takes time and
effort and hiring out can save lots of mistakes. For about
$200 a month for 6-9 months a good local SEO company
can do wonders for your web site. I recommend hiring
someone for this and do it at the start to give Google the
best impression of your new business. Talk to friends and
family to see if they have reccomendtions of good
companies. I am currently using for
my own business.
Google lists web pages on its search engine in the order in
which it thinks will help the user the most. Try searching
photo booth rentals (YOUR AREA HERE) and see what pops
up. The first 2-3 listings are what Google thinks are the
best results, and where you want to eventually be. But
you may also notice that the very top of google and the
right side are photo booth rental ads. Google allows you
to have an ad on the first page even if you are a 5 minute
old web site. This is great news because you can get your
web page noticed by searchers before Google lists you on
its main pages.
Another great thing about Google Adwords is that you pay
only as much as you want. And you pay only if someone
actually clicks on your ad. The cost of Adwords varies by
how much competition you have locally, clicking on your
ad can cost you from 25 cents to over a dollar each time,
but you can set limits to make sure you never go over
budget. I suggest you try it at the start when your page is
new to get some benefit out of Google before it finds and
ranks your site. Start with something small if you like $10
a week or something like that, and of course like any other
web related thing, there are experts out there to help you
do this for a fee.
The next step after Google is naturally Facebook. Start a
facebook page, its free! Take a picture with your phone at
every booth event you do and post it to your Facebook
page. Google likes web pages that have links to social
media, so you have to do this. Twitter can also be a great
place to post pictures and comments. Do this every week
and your clients will notice.
Just Yesterday I had a client call me and say that he liked
my website and my Facebook page, and that’s why he
hired me. He just blurted it out, and that’s what people
do, even after looking at a website they will go to a
businesse’s Facebook page to help them feel like the
business is legitimate.
Then there is an amazing use for Facebook at each of your
events. At my events after a guest comes out of the
booth, they can see their images on an iPad right outside.
They can see their image even before the print comes out.
And they have the option of Facebooking the photo,
texting the photos to their phones, or emailing the photos
to themselves. This is so popular with users in the booth
that I can’t recommend it enough. It also gets you
involved with the guests and allows them to have an easy
way to contact you after an event because they have your
phone number and or email address when they receive
their images. And if they Facebook the images through
our software they send a link to all of their friends about
your business.
The key to making your booth work with social media is to
get the people out of the booth to do it. You can’t expect
them to do it on the screen of the booth after they get
their pictures taken, it just takes too long and keeps other
guests from going into the booth, Since guests in the
booth are potential future clients of yours, you want as
many people to go through your booth as possible at every
(Why you stay with your photo booth at every
event and why it is so inexpensive to run a photo
I used to bring my photo booths to weddings that I was
shooting as a photographer. I would tell my brides about
the photo booth service and add on $500 or so to my
wedding package and they would always say “Wow, what
a neat idea, I’ve never heard of that.” In today’s market
almost every bride has heard of renting a photo booth for
weddings. It’s not just the brides that didn’t know that the
service existed it was the guests too. By seeing the booth
at a wedding, guests couldn’t believe that such a cool
photo booth was available to rent, and guests at weddings
became my next customers. I was focused on weddings
because that is the event industry I knew the best, what I
didn’t realize for a while was that every guest at a wedding
100-200 people were actually potential future customers!
Even today, in Portland, I get guests in the booth that
haven’t heard about having a portable photo booth at a
wedding. And Portland has a ton of photo booth rental
companies. That’s how I know there is so much room to
grow in this industry. A photo booth company with one
booth in a metro area of a million people could average
40-50 weddings in a year. Add to that company parties,
and small personal parties and school events and you have
a thriving money making business.
But how do you get the business that’s out there? To take
advantage you need to connect however briefly with each
guest that goes through your photo booth. You can do
that because a photo booth rental business is a hands on
business. You or your employee stays with the photo
booth. (This is part of the business model) The photo
booth attendant’s job is to do several things.
The most important thing is to get as many people through
the booth as possible during the time you are there. This
may seem counter intuitive at this point, you may be
thinking “I’ve already been paid, why would I want to
spend more money on prints, I should make fewer people
go in the booth,” but this is dead wrong. More people
through the booth means more people will be exposed to
your business, and more people will be having fun which
means more people will think hiring you is a great idea.
The secret truth in the photo booth rental industry is that
the photo booth strips cost you almost nothing. That’s the
truth, you can charge hundreds maybe even over a
thousand dollars and you may spend only $20 on the strips
themselves. Photo booths have a huge profit margin. With
modern professional dye sublimation printers such as my
favorite, The DNP RX-1, the photo booth produces 2 sets
of 4 images on a strip for less than 15 cents.
15 cents is all you pay for a photo booth strip that you can
put your company name on. It’s a business card that
won’t be thrown out, and in fact will end up on a bulletin
board or a refrigerator for years to come. The 15 cents per
double strip is the key figure, and why you want as many
people to go through your photo booth as possible.
Potential photo booth purchasers sometimes ask me
about getting a booth that doesn’t print, but instead sends
the images to the internet. This idea could work in certain
situations, but with the reality that prints only cost 15
cents each, why not do prints. For $20-$30 an event,
every guest at the event can have a “FREE” take away GIFT
with your name on it, or with your clients advertising info
(commercial clients love to have their logo at the bottom
of the strips)
Pay Per Photo Booth
The majority of available photo booth rentals out there are
for 2-4 hours and my model is to just charge a flat fee for
that service. You get paid up front, sometimes 1-2 weeks
before the event, and usually you can collect a deposit of
up to 50% at the time of booking. But, there are occasions
where selling the booth one photo at a time can make
sense. I tend to avoid this type of work, but others have
made it work for them. Most event photo booths do not
have bill collectors or cc machines, but with an attendant
outside the booth who needs that. Better to have a
person interact with a guest at an event than a machine.
An example of a pay per use event would be a fair where
you can rent a booth and set up shop offering a keep sake
of the event. People may pay $5-$10 per shot. And 10
groups per hour would be $50-$100 and hour, which may
be worth it to you for the exposure and profit. Sometimes
the events you do may be for charity or a non-profit
organization looking to raise funds. In this case you may
donate or discount your rental fee, and also collect money
from guests, that goes directly to the organization.
In an auction situation I sometimes reduce my rate by 50%
and donate all money collected to offset the cost of the
booth. In these cases the money collected may not cover
the organizations cost to hire me, but it offsets it and
creates the fun atmosphere that makes coming to charity
events feel worth it to the guests. In my own business I
would say that the majority of fund raisers I attend do not
even collect a fee, but instead use the booth solely for
entertainment for their guests.
Of course when doing these events I offer to put the
organizations logo on the strips, essentially turning it into
a promotional piece or business card that the guests are
very unlikely to throw out, but will instead put on their
walls or refrigerators proudly.
This is a good place to segway into the next section –
LOGOS- and how branding the strips is a major reason for
the photo booth industries success.
You need a Blog section of your website. It is a great way
to keep your site updated with content. It can be very
similar to what you post to your Facebook page, and
Google loves constantly updated sites. So get a blog on
your site, Wordpress is a good way to start, but any easily
updateable blog section of your page is a must. Post
images from events, clients you work for, stories about
photo booth events, or tips for enjoying the photo booth.
Use your blog and facebook posts to make yourself the
local photo booth expert.
Part of your early internet marketing strategy should be to
sign up with 5-10 internet resource lists. This is often free
and can help establish your web site presence across the
internet. When clients search for event help in their area,
many of the google listings are internet directories, One
such example is and there are many others that
vary by region in their popularity. Signing up for free
listings can help your initial web rankings. So its free, and
you should do it. Look up photo booths and wedding
services in your area in Google, and see what directories
might pop up in Google and sign up with those first.
The Photo Booth Renaissance
Throughout the 20th century photo booths were a fixture
in train stations, malls, and soda shops. And as anyone
who lived through the 20th century can tell you, photo
booths popularity had decreased considerably in the later
half of the century. So, why the recent explosion in
1. Digital Technology
The first reason is that digital cameras and digital printers
are now capable of true photo quality results. Digital
cameras and printers can also talk to computers. A few
software developers realized that they could get all these
technologies to talk together and recreate the old
chemical photo booth with modern digital equipment.
These technological breakthroughs could essentially turn
your already purchased equipment into a photo booth! If
you are curious to check it out, go to my web site and
download our photo booth software
and give it a try. All you need is a Windows computer, a
Canon DSLR, and any windows printer. With these pieces
of equipment you can create a simple photo booth just for
testing purposes and see if the photo booth excitement
might just sweep over you. Our software is simple but it
works really well for basic professional photo booth use. If
you need more advanced features such as video, green
screen, or custom layouts then I suggest Breezesys DSLR
Remote for Windows. Our
sowftware is free to try, and Breeze is only $175 and is
free for 14 days.
Anyone who purchases a Fortune Photo Booth kit gets my
personalized instruction on how to use the software.
Where our own software is simple, the more feature rich
software, like Breeze, can really benefit by a personal
tutorial from me. Software that is feature rich can appear
complex at first, but if you take your time and learn the
basics first doing events with simple traditional strips then
move on to advanced features later as you feel more
comfortable, you will find that it’s not very difficult at all.
2. Portable Structures
Digital technology was the spark that started the fire, but
it took more than that. Imagine going to a wedding and
seeing a computer, wires, a printer, a background, a
photographer, a camera on a tripod…. It’s a mess not
fitting a fine event and not conducive to having fun. It
took a few portable photo booth pioneers to create the
portable structures that could house and create the photo
booth equipment in photo booth form and somehow do it
in a way that is easy to transport to an event.
In my own rental business I have 4 photo booths. I had to
come up with a booth system that allowed me to store my
booths at my home studio, or else I would have my profits
eaten up by rental space. I also needed the booths to be
portable enough to fit into my car, and any car that an
employee would have. (Our booth fits in a Honda Civic)
The booth had to be light enough that I could hire workers
of any adult size (100lbs to 250lbs) otherwise I would only
be able to hire burly guys with trucks, or have to provide
trucks and trailers myself which would be another huge
expense. Finally the booth not only had to be able to fit in
any car, and set up by any adult person, but it had to be
able to get into all of the event spaces that I knew were
having all the events.
I was once contracted out by another photo booth rental
company to do an event because they simply couldn’t get
their booth into the venue they had booked. Meanwhile, I
was able to book events in private homes, in balconies,
even on roof tops with no elevator service. My Fortune
Photo Booth design can go anywhere a person can go,
inside or even outside. If it rains I can just use a pop up
One service I advertise on my web site is that I can run my
booth on battery power in venues that won’t have power!
All this takes is a portable battery power pack available at
Home Depot. These power packs contain a deep cycle
lead acid battery – similar to a car battery – and an
inverter that provides 120V just like a standard home
outlet. A battery pack costs about $100 and can be used
over and over, and can power a booth for about 6 hours.
You could set up your Fortune Photo Booth anywhere!
3. Logos and Strip Customization
Another key factor in photo booths popularity is the
explosion of digital images on social media and peoples
cell phones. Everyone loves photos and everyone likes to
share them, yet in my opinion people are missing the old
tactile feel of holding a print in their hands, and being able
to use a magnet to hold prints to the fridge.
Photo Booths help fill that gap, they give people instant
prints, they get to take them home, they perceive of it as a
FREE GIFT and also photo booths are easily set up to
deliver digital images to the party host and even email and
text message images from the booth to the guests so they
can Facebook and Instagram (these are verbs now) and get
their digital fix as well.
And, that brings me to logos and strip customization.
Modern photo booths such as our Fortune Photo Booth
photo booths have an ability the traditional old school
booths never had, which is the ability to put a logo or at
least text on every photo booth strip which personalizes
the strips to the event. Not only is this enticing for a bride
and groom looking to personalize the strip to their
wedding, but it is critical to the popularity of photo booths
used by corporate clients you will have to promote their
brand and products.
My clients for my rental business include huge
corporations like McDonalds, Nike, Microsoft, Adidas,
Copala Wines, Toyota, and Honda. I also am hired by local
businesses and organizations like Public Schools,
Universities, Hospitals, Restaurants, and Real Estate
Groups. Aside from Businesses the other 50% of my rental
business is filled with Weddings, Birthday Parties,
Company Employee Parties, Dances and Holiday Events.
Almost 100% of the events I am hired to do love the idea
of strip customization that we can do for them. Not only
are you selling your clients a fun interactive entertainment
experience, you are giving their guests and clients the gift
of photos with their brand on it.
There is no doubt that having a box of props at an event
can make the experience much more entertaining for your
guests in the booth. You can charge more for bringing
props to an event, or just bundle it in with your services. I
feel that props make people feel so happy that I should
just bundle it in and bring them to almost every event.
My favorite props are:
Mustaches and Lips and Glasses on a Stick.
(These are great because they are easy to use, funny, reuseable, and won’t mess up any
ones hair. Wooden or felt are best. Paper gets destroyed after one event. My daughter
cuts them out for me and I hot glue them onto bamboo sticks meant to scewer food
that I get at the grocery store. I get the STIFFENED FELT at a craft store, you can order
plastic templates at, or go to and order the whole thing
done for you.)
Plastic Viking Hats.
(Come on, who doesn’t like a Viking hat. See: Orientaltrading,com)
Over Sized and Novelty Glasses
(Neon, Elvis, Harry Potter, Cat Eye….. See: Orientaltrading,com)
Feather Boas
(Red, Pink, White, Black. Be carefull, they make a mess!….. See: Orientaltrading,com)
Top Hats and Vintage Hats
(Mens and Womens hats black and red, and fedoras (plastic diff colors) See:
(Plastic ones break but they cost 50 cents, I have a few plastic and a few nicer metal
Pirate hats, swords, and eye patches
(Aaaaaaarg!!! Nuff Said!)
Angel head Piece and Devil Horns
(everyone feels like a Devil in the photo booth)
Just don’t go overboard. Expensive props have a way of
making their way to the dance floor and then
disappearing. Experiment and try different things, and get
a few different Holiday props as you book events for
different holidays, but my basic kit above seems to keep
people happy all year long. Wigs are cool but tend to get
trashed and people worry less about cooties with plastic
Guest Books for Weddings
A very popular add on for weddings is a guest book. Most
photo booth prints out come in twos. This means that one
print can go to the guests and the other strip can go into a
guest book. Guest books make a lot of sense for weddings
and important personal events where the guest of honor
knows everyone at the party.
All you need is a scrap book, glue/tape and some pens. I
personally prefer 12 x 12 simple albums with sleves that
accept the 12x12 pages. I lay out the 12 x 12 pages on a
table so that more than one person can access the guest
book at the same time. When a page is done with 1-4
strips I take it and slide it into the book. These type books
have removable/addable pages so they always look
finished and you can’t run out of room. The plastic sleeves
also catch any strips that come loose over the years so
they won’t get lost.
The 12x12 pages can be black if you use glitter or gel pens,
and any pen works on white pages. You could also make
custom prints with a white space for people to sign the
prints themselves with sharpies.
EMPLOYEES (One booth or two)
A single person can set up, transport and run my Fortune
Photo Booth system. You can make $200+ per hour
renting the booths out. But when you start renting booths
out, you realize that most events happen on Saturday
night. Once you book an event on Saturday July 16th, all
the other calls you get for the 16th have to be turned
Back before I started selling photo booths I had several
Summer weekend nights with 7 events at the same time. I
have since reduced my number of photo booths to 4, as
more of my time is taken up with designing and selling the
Fortune Photo Booth kits. For me having multiple booths
(at least 2) is a must for a rental company whose main goal
is making money.
One booth is fine for a part time run from home business.
A booth may be able to bring in 40-50K a year, but the
step from 1 booth to 2 is a business changing event. With
two photo booths you can book a small wedding on a
Saturday for a discount and still not worry about the big
full price wedding that you might miss if you book the
small event. You can even do non-profit organization
discounts and school events for less knowing you have a
full price booth back up.
I advertise right on my main page that I do non-profit
organization discounts, And I get several calls a week
about doing non-profit events. Best yet, most of the nonprofit events I do (about 40% discount) are on weekdays.
I think of weekday events as bonus money. You know you
are going to book the big Saturdays in June, but a
Wednesday in February for a local school is a bonus!
The big decision you have to make about going to multiple
booths isn’t whether it will pay off, I believe it will, but if
you want the extra work of managing employees.
It is work managing employees because you have to train
them and teach them how to handle the booth at events.
You want to be confident that they will represent your
business in a professional manner, almost like you were
there yourself. Can you let go of the control of your
business enough to make that happen? If the answer is
yes, then you are ready to take your rental business to the
next level, and ready to bring in more money.
Because our Fortune Photo Booth kits are so portable and
modular, your employees don’t have to have special cars.
They don’t have to be big burly men either. I have
designed my photo booth kit to be easy to teach
employees how to use, and how to set up. I send newer
employees to events earlier of course, and I make sure my
cell phone is on for tech support, but after 1-2 events on
their own I can usually trust a person to run and manage a
photo booth with no problems.
Open Air Vs. Sit Down Photo Booths
There are two main types of photo booths, those that
have the guests sit down behind a curtain and those that
have the guests stand with no curtain or a back drop. Each
has its benefits, but in my opinion the seated curtain type
booths offer better quality photos and are easier to rent
than the open air style.
Our Fortune Photo Booth kits can be used either way, as
an open air booth or as a curtained booth, so you can offer
both options to your clients.
Open air is attractive because the booth is open and the
guests can see what people are doing in their photos. At
the right type of event the open air booths can cause quite
a buzz, but unfortunately there are three main drawbacks.
The first drawback is that some people won’t go into the
booth because they don’t want people to watch. This can
be quite serious at a party where most people don’t know
each other or a lot of people are more reserved. The
second drawback is that people are at a much different
height differential when standing. Imagine a parent and
child both standing in a photo. The shot has to be much
wider to get both faces in a photo. Sitting is a great
equalizer of heights and putting a child on a lap basically
evens out adult/kid differences. The third issue with open
air is the lighting. Having an open area can cause all sorts
of strange lighting issues. With a sit down curtain booth
the lighting can be made to be very consistent.
The biggest benefits of an open air style booth are the
publicity, the large number of people you can get in a shot,
and how little room it takes up. But I believe after using
our booth as both an open air system and a sit down
booth you will see the advantages of renting out the booth
as a more traditional style sit down booth.
There are all sorts of different things that a photo booth
can do. Video recording is one of the most popular.
Guests go into a booth at a wedding, for example, and
leave a message for the bride and groom. Usually if you
have a flexible photo booth kit, like we sell at Fortune,
then all you need to do is change or upgrade your
software to create new functions of your photo booth.
While there are a lot of options, keep in mind that just
renting out a photo booth that takes 4 shots and pints out
a strip of photos is still by far the most popular and
established rental markets. It is fun to offer all the bells
and whistles, but make sure it’s worth it to you financially
to add all the effects and options, and make sure it doesn’t
detract from your main money making option which is
usually the traditional photo booth rental.
Green Screen
Having a green sheet behind the subjects in the booth
allows that color to be dropped out and replaced by a
photo / background. You can make the guests appear to
be in the mountains, or in Paris… all you need is photo
booth software that handles the task (such as Breeze
software) and the background photo of your choice.
Green screen capability is almost never perfect but t can
be a great gimmick for the right event, and offering it can
make your business look high tech and multifunctional. Ut
the downside to green screen is that in a traditional photo
booth strip the pictures are small and having a distracting
background can make the images less interesting. It
doesn’t seem like a good fit for a wedding, but could be
great for a commercial product advertisement, or a way of
advertising for a business or location.
Adding video to your photo booth is pretty easy. You most
likely need a DSLR camera such as a Canon T2i or T3i or T4i
camera These cameras take stunning photos and videos,
and most importantly, they have the ability to hook up to
an external microphone. Because the camera is inside the
booth, the cameras built in mic will get too much booth
and external noise to hear what people have to say.
Video is a useful option to offer to commercial clients who
wants to record, employee, or customer comments for use
on line or in promo videos.
Wedding video guest books are another great offering you
can have in your rental business.
Google it if you haven’t hear about it. There are some
great videos of slow-mo wedding video booths. The jury is
still out on this trend. While it is really funny to see
someone get slapped in slow motion, the guest don’t get
much out of it like they do in a photo booth, and some
people just don’t want to go through the act of dancing,
slapping or throwing props in front of a camera. The slow
motion photo booth also almost requires you to be a wiz
at video editing which is another draw back. Still, with
software and a specialty slow motion camera this can be
an interesting option. I think it makes much more sense to
do an open air style photo booth with slow-mo video to
give more room for movement in the shot.
Equipment Notes
There are three main types of photo booth cameras. One
type is an older Canon Powershot point and shoot camera
Such as the Canon S5 IS and S3 IS. These Powershot
cameras work well in a modern photo booth and
autofocus quickly. Unfortunately these powershots are no
longer made. Canon no longer makes point ant shoot
cameras that work in photo booths. You can find these
cameras used on Amazon and Ebay. These cameras have a
flash which is critical for good exposures in a photo booth.
Canon does still make DSLR cameras such as the Rebels- t3
and t4 which work well in photo booths. The image
quality of the DSLR’s are excellent but they don’t
autofocus quickly enough for moving subjects in the photo
booth. You can use DSLR’s in Manual focus mode and
then they work fine. Most rental photo booths today use
these cameras. Some Canon DSLR’s can also do video, but
an audio jack to hook up an external microphone is
essential. Fortune Photo Booths use Canon DSLR’s in
most of our kits, although we do custom kits with different
cameras if they better suit your needs.
Some Nikon DSLR cameras also work in photo booths, but
are a bit more expensive than the Canon’s. You have to
check the software you choose to see which cameras are
The last type of camera that works in a photo booth are
web cameras. Web cams are not very expensive and they
can usually auto focus well, but their major drawback is
their lack of a flash. They are also lower resolution and
have lower color accuracy, but they get better every year
and are very inexpensive. Built in web cams in tablets
have the disadvantage that they cannot be aimed at the
subjects easily because they are attached to the screen.
There are two main printers used in photo booths today,
Inkjets and Dye Sublimation photo printers. Professional
toll type Dye Sub printers are my choice for a good photo
Dye Sub printers are about twice the size of a large toaster
and can weigh 30-50 lbs. They work by heating a multi
colored ribbon which transfers the color from the ribbon
to special paper. Dye Subs main benefits include cheap
running costs, durable performance and fast operation. A
typical Dye sub holds 200-700 prints at a time on a roll of
paper and a roll of ribbon which means you aren’t
constantly changing paper. You change the ink and paper
at the same time every time so you aren’t bothered with
multiple ink changes like in an inkjet printer. A Dye Sub
printer costs around $800-$1200 up front but in my
experience they last 6+ years of heavy use. They are
repairable and some come with great warranties that
allow them to be replaced quickly if you have a problem.
These warranties are very important for a busy rental
company that relies on the printer to make money.
Although the up front cost of a Dye Sub printer is high the
speed-reliability and cheap prints make up for it. A busy
photo booth may have 100 events a year. With 100 events
and an average of 100 prints per event that’s 10,000 prints
a year. Over 6 years that is 60,000 prints. At $0.15 per
print it comes to $9000 in paper and ink over a 6 year
period. Add $1000 for the printer and you are at $10,000
in printer and prints. An ink jet printer such as the Epson
Picturemate costs $175, and $39 per 150 prints. Each
Picturemate will only last about 100 events before it has a
problem. That’s $0.26 per print (and I am being kind to
the picturemate, they almost never get the full 150 prints.)
over 60,000 prints that’s $1050 in printer costs, and
$15,600 in paper and ink. So you can see how the Dye Sub
printers higher cost is more than made up for by the
consumable costs down the road.
An ink jet needs attention every 20 shots or so because
they cannot hold more than 20 pieces of paper at a time.
Over 6 years that would be 3000 times you have to fiddle
with the printer during your events, and that doesn’t
include print head cleanings and ink changes which can be
embarrassing to you with your clients waiting in line. On
the other hand the dye sub only has to be changed 86
times over the 6 years and many of those times you will be
loading paper at home before the event, and there will be
0 times during an event that you will have to fiddle with
the printer.
Dye sub prints come out at photographic quality and are
laminated so they are instantly dry and water proof. Most
printers have the print to your client in less than 20
seconds, which is often faster than they can get out of the
booth. This always amazes the guests when they see how
high quality and fast your booth is. The prints are water
and smudge-proof.
Inkjets are a super cheap way to start out. I myself used
inkjets when I first started my business, and they do work.
Print times are about 1 minute, which is still fast enough to
keep up. Ink jets print two strips on a 4x6 which you then
have to cut to make two strips. Dye Subs cut the strips
automatically. You can cut the paper of an inkjet into
strips first, but then you’d have to print twice to get two
copies, and the printers seem to be more reliable in
handling 4x6 paper rather than thin strips.
If you are serious about making money and running a
smooth operating photo booth then there isn’t much
choice – Go for the Dye Sub printer. I suggest the DNP RX1 which holds 700 prints at a time and has a less than
$0.15 print cost. But if you are just starting out and don’t
mind being more hands on with your printer, you can get a
great feel for the photo booth business with an ink jet and
upgrade later once you are making money. I recommend
the Epson Picturemate portable printers for this.
Every once in a while I get a client who wants a booth, but
really feels like the Dye Subs are too heavy. In that case an
inkjet can be a real back saver. The Picturemate printer
weigh almost nothing compared to a dye sub. And the
Picturemate’s paper and ink can be purchased at most
Office Depots whereas the Dye Sub supplies are only
available online.
There is a new type of printer that is emerging called a
ZINK printer. They have paper with ink crystals already
inside. They work a little like Dye Subs with a roll of paper
and heat creating the image on the paper. I have played
with the ZINK Printers and I do like them, The ZINK HAPPY
printer prints on 2 inch wide strips which is perfect, but
there aren’t good drivers yet for computers and the color
quality of the images is not as good as inkjets or dye subs.
I do have high hopes for this technology though and see it
as an alternative in the future. The Zink prints also come
in sticker rolls for a fun bonus for your clients.
You may have also heard of mini dye sub printers, such as
the Canon Selphys. These printers produce water proof
images and are about as fast as inkjets. They may be good
emergency backup printers but I have avoided them
because they drop the prints onto the paper tray which is
an awkward presentation for your clients.
When it comes to computers I hate to say it but PC’s are
the choice for photo booths, not Apple. I love my iPhone
and my iPad, but PC’s running your booth are more
affordable and compatible with the current hardware you
need in your photo booth.
I am a big fan of using tablets in my booths as the main
computer and screen. This is because tablets are light,
have plenty of computing power and eliminate the need
for a button and a separate touch screen which are just
more pieces of equipment that can fail. There are
computer/tablets now that range from 8 inches to 22
inches and work really well in a photo booth. My favorite
size for a portable and light set up is around 13 inches.
People in the booth never feel 13 is too small and it travels
easily. I also use 10 inch tablets often and never get
complaints from my clients about the monitor. The only
reason you would need a larger monitor is if people will be
standing far from the camera, and that makes lighting a
big challenge. In a normal situation 10-13 inches is big
Some photo booth operators have options in the booth for
emailing and Facebooking the images inside the booth,
that is another reason for a big screen. This to me is a
horrible idea. You have to get the people out of the booth
quickly, so more people can go in. Imagine a group of 3-8
people trying to enter Facebook login info inside the booth
on a touch screen while other people want to go in. That
is why ourFortune Photo Booth iPad Sattion outside the
booth solution is perfect for getting people out of the
booth and still offering them the social sharing
opportunities that you can use to further connect with
your clients and book more events.
Non-Internet Marketing (I Love Bridal Shows!)
Besides your webpage and Google/Facebook advertising
there are several proven ways to advertise your new
photo booth rental business. But, please do the web site
My own marketing plan includes going to 1-3 local Bridal
Fairs in my area each year. I estimate that the big bridal
show in my city gets me at least 30 events every year. One
of the cool things about the bridal show bookings is that
almost half of them aren’t even weddings. I am always
amazed at how many people going to the show aren’t
even getting married. You also have the Moms and
Bridesmaids and friends that go with a bride and groom,
who all have jobs and lives and go to parties and events.
At the Bridal Show I am marketing to everyone!
My job at the show is to get as many people into my booth
and get as many prints (with my logo: at the bottom) into their
hands. I use a 10x10 space and one booth, although you
could do 2 booths if you are ambitious. I always have a
helper with me during the events to keep handing our
business post cards out, and guiding people through the
booth process. People seem to like to be told what to do.
Even if directions are written inside the booth, a little
personal instruction helps them enjoy the booth even
more and creates an opportunity to interact with your
future clients.
I designed my Fortune Photo Booth Kit for weddings, Of
course it works at any type of event, but I specifically
designed it to work at weddings. This gives my booth
system some key advantages over my competition.
First, my photo booths are meant to accommodate 1-10
people in the shots. Brides love this because they can
picture their whole bridal party in the photo booth. In
reality 10 people will try to get in the booth less than 2
times per wedding, but the possibility of it happening gets
the brides to book you.
Second, my photo booths can go anywhere, inside or out
and be run on battery power if needed. It’s amazing the
number of times every year that I do a wedding in a field,
or in a balcony only accessible by stairs. My booth can be
carried and set up anywhere.
Third, my booth blends in at any wedding. My booth does
not look like an arcade machine, it is simple and black and
that goes with any event. I put decals on the booth that
say PHOTO BOOTH, and everyone knows what it is, even
from across the room.
Our booth panels can also be customized with printing to
make it look however you want. You are not limited to
simple elegant and black, you can go crazy and print it
purple or rainbow colored. I have done single events for
big companies like McDonalds where I printed the booth
to look like a Hamburger on all sides. Having this
customizable option is a fantastic thing to advertise on
your site and has booked me events even if the client
ended up using the booth as is, just having the option of
customizing it to their brand go them interested. If a
company does want it customized, you can make more
money on the event by charging several hundred dollars
extra for the printing.
Bridal shows are great marketing opportunities for
booking weddings and also booking events from people
who are just attending the show and not getting married.
There is a super importan, and often wasted, opportunity
that occurs at 90% of all weddings. Most booth operators
ignore this opportunity because it requires a little effort on
your part, but I urge you to take advantage. This
opportunity is with the event venue that the wedding is
being held at. And event venues do much more than
You must develop a simple business relationship with
every venue that you ever wish to work in again. Every
venue has a banquet or event coordinator and almost
every event space gets booked way way before the client
will start thinking about booking a photo booth. What if
you could get the Venue’s event coordinator to refer your
photo booth as an option for every event they service.
So, what you do is introduce yourself when you get there,
and make sure the coordinator is happy with your booth
placement in their facility, and then if the coordinator
looks like they are friendly and have a minute I try to get
them to test out the booth. Then they have a photo booth
strip to hang on their office wall. Get all the event
employees to go in the booth. Then the really sneaky part
that I like to do is to send the digital files to the email
address of the coordinator a few days after the event.
If you really want more business at a venue, meet with the
coordinator during the week, and offer them a deal where
their clients get a better rate at that venue. And then you
have to keep up the venue relationship a little bit each
event or at least once a year to keep you at the top of their
recommended photo booth list. Coordinators also seem
to burn out often, and employee turnover is high which
means you have to start over with the venue every time
this happens.