How to Make a Photo Booth For Your Next Party

how to make a photo boothSome silly props and a flash are all you need to add more fun with a photo booth to your next event.  From weddings to fundraisers and Bar Mitzvahs to family reunions, photo booths are becoming more common at a variety of events. Kids love them, but adults love the chance to make silly faces for the camera too. Before creating your own photo booth, learn the basics of photography with Getting Started in Photography, so that every snapshot is a keeper.

Location, Location, Location

First choose a location for your photo booth. You’ll need to find the right balance in the spot you choose. You will want to designate a place where people where find it, but one that won’t block traffic or cause chaos.  Long and narrow spaces work well.  Corners or any space near an outlet will do.  If you’re renting a venue, ask the staff there where photo booths have worked successfully in the past. Chances are, you’re not the first person to want to remember your special day, whatever the occasion, and most rental venues will have some fun suggestions for where you can place your setup to attract lots of guests into the booth. If it’s your own space, you should know the layout well enough to make a good choice in picking the location. If you’re stumped, invite a guest over and get their opinion; reach out to friends and family members, especially any that have set up a photo booth before, and ask them for suggestions regarding location. They might have some creative ideas (the backyard?) that you may not have thought of right off the bat.

Background Basics

A fun background will make your photo booth really special, unique, and distinctive, so that the photos you snap there will be especially memorable. There are several different ways to snag a good backdrop.  Heading to a party store might be the easiest option. There, you can find cheap, colorful tablecloths to hang on the back wall of your booth. Or go for streamers or wrapping paper. A fabric or office supply store will also have other options for a backdrop, especially if you’re a visual or creative thinker.  Find a fabric pattern you like and buy a few yards, or buy several sticky notes and start arranging them in a lively design on your back wall.  There are many other ways to create an backdrop, find the inspiration for designing your own with the course Unleash Your Creativity.

Lights, Camera, Action

In addition to the background, lighting is another key component to building a great photo booth. It’s important to understand for all photography, so consider taking Digital Photography: Introduction to Lighting.  AlienBees are one more affordable lighting option. You can place behind the camera in the booth.  A white umbrella positioned opposite is good choice for bouncing the light. Renting lighting sets is a strong option too.  Use the cord provided to sync the lights with the camera.

There are many options when it comes to the camera device to use in your booth.  A smartphone, tablet, laptop or DSLR could capture your guests’ smiling faces.

A smartphone would be one of the easier options. A phone paired with a $.99 app PocketBooth can snap pictures for you and arrange them in photo booth formats. Many different software options give tablets or laptops similar capabilities. Photo Booth is a free download for Macs, but take time to explore other options.  SparkBooth is another one that changes you computer into a photo booth. If you are looking for higher-quality images, a DSLR paired with a computer and dslrBooth software will create great looking pictures.

If you have some coding ability, there’s no need to download a photo booth app or software. Create your own, but first take Beginner Xcode Programming: Reskin a Photo Booth App to make it a little easier.

If using a DSLR, take the time to dial your shutter speed and exposure to the settings that will give you a great picture.  In the photo booth, high shutter speed and high aperture will likely work best.


Once you have the technical elements of your booth set up, find some fun props. Visit a dollar store or thrift shop. Buy Hawaiian shirts, oversized glasses, clown noses, cowboy hats, feather boas and any other outrageous accessories you want.


There are always additional steps to take to customize your photo booth. You could attach a printer with some photo paper to your computer, if you desire on-the-spot printing. Adding a stool or a bench to the booth is also a good idea. That will put more guests on the same level, creating a more-centered shot.

If you’re using a tablet, computer or DSLR camera, you will want to find something to balance them on in your booth.  A music stand would work for a tablet.  A stool or small table might do the trick for a computer. If you are using a DSLR, you will want to rent or buy a tripod to support it.

Regardless of the type of camera in your booth, you might want to have remote control guests can use to trigger the shot.  You could also set a 10-second time delay in your camera, so guests have time to prep for their shots.


Building a great photo booth will take some effort, but remember it’s worth it. A photo booth will make a perfect addition to any Christmas party and will help you remember your New Year’s celebrations. So start practicing your funny faces now, and make sure to test out your booth before your guests arrive.

If all the funny photos and silly props have sparked an interest in photography in your children, enroll them in Photography for Kids: Project-Based Beginner Photography. Then next time, you’ll have some help when building your booth!