DIY photobooth easy, cheap and fun
For the last couple years, I've been one of the people who helps plan our annual employee appreciation party.
(For all you fans of the “The Office,” yes, that means I'm on the party planning committee, but I have no illusions of being in charge.)
We try to do fun, different things each year. Last year, we played Rock Band to accompany our rock 'n roll theme. This year, the theme was “Return to the Golden Age of Newspapers and Radio.” We brought in swing-dance instructors and Bruiser and the Virtues for some old-timey live entertainment.
We also wanted to do a photobooth, but on a small budget. I started with this guide and we went from there.
I borrowed a netbook with a webcam from Mike Howie and he downloaded the trial version of Sparkbooth. (We were going to buy the software, but the trial worked just fine, with the exception of the words "demo" across the bottom of each picture. We decided it wasn't worth buying the software to get rid of the watermark.) The software was easy to set up and no one seemed to have too much trouble figuring out how to use it.
Our marketing department happened to have a photo printer with paper and plenty of extra cartridges, as well as a light we use for shooting TV promos. (The tutorial suggests you can use a lamp for this.)
For props, I brought the mustaches and a funny face I made for our wedding pictures. Both I and another employee brought feather boas, and we set the computer and printer on a table in front of a blank white wall. Looking back, it would've been nice to have curtains around the booth, so keep that in mind if you're thinking about trying this.
The result was a fun party feature - guests just pressed the space bar to get started, and I set the software to print automatically. I set a pair of scissors next to the printer, so people could separate the strips of photos.
Judging from the files Sparkbooth saved on Mike's netbook, people had a blast taking funny and serious pictures. It was a hit, and we basically did it for free. Plus, I think people enjoyed having a little something to take home with them.