Wednesday, June 5, 2013

DIY Photo booth for World Impact

This past weekend Will and I volunteered with our church at the World Impact Teen Center in downtown to help put on a carnival to connect with the local community in preparation for a church plant. Every time we've had the opportunity to partner with World Impact, I've been humbled by the amazing people I meet who have such compassionate, servant hearts dedicated to sharing God's redeeming love. Supporting the local inner city missions has been such an eye-opening experience that has challenged me to reevaluate my values and my attitude towards God and life... but it has definitely been such a blessing!

For the community outreach carnival Will and I helped put together a little DIY photo booth. A group of us were able to purchase equipment, materials, and put together our homemade photo booth in less than a week! Since I usually plan projects far in advance and like having plenty of time to work on them (perfectionist), this was definitely a timeline that put me outside my element; but in the end, teamwork really paid off!

DIY Photo Booth

1. Building the Backdrop
An easy way to build a backdrop without any messy glue or adhesives is using PVC piping (Home Depot or Lowe's), shower rings (any hardware store), and fabric (Joann). This tutorial shows how to build a basic frame from PVC pipes. We also had weights (sandbags) to stabilize the frame on the bottom.

Burlap or a thicker cotton are probably the best fabric choices because they sturdy, easy to decorate, and fairly cheap. I think lighter solids such as cream, natural burlap, or light grey work best for pictures. A faintly patterned fabric may also work with less decorations or it may verge on being "too busy".

2. Equipment
We already had a camera (two actually, one for backup), tripod, and laptop. Our biggest investment in the whole project was the photo printer. Our friend found this adorable, portable photo printer on amazon; it prints the perfect size (4" x 6"), the print quality is crisp and the colors are vibrant, and it's so light and compact-- when you are finished it even folds up and has a handle making it easy to carry!

3. Making it Pretty
This is the fun part (at least for me)! I only had a day to prepare the decorations for the backdrop so I went to party city and picked our some colorful paper fan rosettes (various size and colors, 6" - 16" diameter), and a brightly colored garland. We pinned all of the decorations to the backdrop using safety pins, much easier than dealing with tape or glue. Pinning the embellishments also made it easier to adjust their positioning later to best fit the frame of the photos. There are also lots of pretty pennant banners, poms, and tassels you can find on Etsy that make it super easy to customize the color and theme of your photo booth.

4. Get Creative!
Party City, Etsy, and even Dollar Tree are great places to find fun photo booth props on a budget. My favorite from our photo booth was a giant pair of nerd glasses, it looked so funny on everyone! Chalk board or dry-erase boards are also great props for encouraging creative and personalized photos.

Additional materials: Photo booth software (such as Spark Booth), table (one small table for the laptop and printer, another larger table for the props), umbrella (to shade the camera and equipment if outside), power strip, cables, and colored tape (marking area to stand for the pictures).

Lighting is another important consideration for a photo booth. If  the photo booth will be outdoors and it's a bright sunny day, the booth should be positioned in the shade to prevent harsh contrast and washed out photos. If the photo booth will be indoors, make sure there will be sufficient lighting around the photo booth.

There you have it-- my notes on creating a fun, versatile, budget-friendly, DIY photo booth!

It wasn't perfect (there were definitely quite a few technical difficulties throughout the day...), but it was a big hit at the carnival anyways. The families loved having their pictures taken, especially the kids; some came back to the photo booth three or four times!

Will and I were exhausted by the end of the day but what a blessing it was to serve God and the community in such a fun way!

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