Introduction: DIY Photobooth

Picture of DIY Photobooth

This is a tutorial on how to build your own photobooth much like the traditional ones seen at malls, amusement parks, and shopping centers the world over. This booth however is completely digital and is much much cheaper/easier to do at home.

I wrote the first half of the tutorial months ago and finally decided to finish it and post it up.

This project was the result of an undergraduate research project I did last year while attending Carnegie Mellon Univ. It was my first year of college so I thought that a photobooth would be a great way to discover the campus community. The project was a great success and, though my version had many bugs, I have literally hundreds of photos of my classmates.

Step 1: Design Your Booth

Picture of Design Your Booth

The design part is really up to you. Build whatever you think looks cool and works well. Here are some key things I had to keep in mind when figuring out my design.
- portability (fits through doorways, not too heavy)
- secure from theft
- attractiveness. This was important since I had to actually get people to use it.

Step 2: Computer Setup

Here's what you need for the "brains" of the photobooth:
- Computer
- Digital Camera w/ USB remote control capability
- Printer (preferrably for photoprinting)
- User Interface/Controller
- Money Collection Unit *** Optional and not used in this project

I have researched the topic extensively prior to this post so I can tell you there are two main ways to approach digitally constructing a photobooth.

Type 1: This process uses a Mac Mini as the main computer (PIMP) and a digital video camera to capture the photos. The article is entitled an Embedded View of the Mac Mini. This process is cool but the pictures usually come out somewhat poor quality (esp. when compared to pics taken from a digital CAMERA) But I'm sure someone with better programming skills than me can find some open-source camera control program and mess with it to work with macs.

Type 2: This type uses a PC and digital camera to preform the photobooth tasks. Type 2 is the one that I will be explaining in this tutorial. I purchased a program called Photoboof that basically runs the entire process. The program has a lot of features that you can customize (such as adding a second screen, skinnable printouts for logos, etc) You will also have to purchase PSRemote. This is the camera control program, currently only for a select number of CANON cameras. Photoboof also adds control to a number of other non-canon cameras so check there for the most recent updates. The forum is great help too.

So the user sequence for either type is pretty simple. The person sits inside the booth, pushes a button or two, the digital camera/camcorder takes the photo, the computer processes the photo, and the photoprinter prints out a copy for the user. In the mean time, the computer saves the photos on its harddrive, both in its original form and its "photostripped" form. The computer then has the opition to send photos via web server to an online website or another computer. However, for my project, I opted not to have the computer connect to the internet to send images. This was for both practicality (I'd have to manually log the computer into CMU wireless network every couple of hours) and because the grant organization rather me keep the identities of the users private and not published online.

Step 3: Construction: Electrical

Picture of Construction: Electrical

There are a lot of really cool features I added to the booth that improve ease and use. I forgot to mention that this booth was free to students (but you can add a coin collector....just look up some MAME projects to learn more) But the booth had to be secure but yet accessible when needed repairs.

The button to turn on the computer was hacked and wires extended it to the lightbox portion of the booth. Two solenoids manually push the camera and printer on/off switches to turn them on.
All this was connected to a control box located in the front portion of the photobooth (where the sliding door in the next step would give access to)

Step 4: Construction: the Box

Picture of Construction: the Box

The booth has four sides, two of which have slideable walls. One "door" will remain permantly closed, while the other "main door" will be used for turning the booth on. The main access door is also a light box design (the pictures will explain it better) Inside there is a controller that has a main power switch, and buttons to turn on the computer, camera, and printer (the lights are always on, but you can add a switch for that too) There are also status LEDs to let you know that the computer is indeed on.

With this design, even if someone opens the main door, all they can really do is turn everything on/off (NOT STEAL THE PARTS) The door is kept closed by 4 concealed wooden dowels that need to first be removed before the door could slide open.

Step 5: Construction: the Facade

I printed my design out at the university print shop on a huge piece of sticker paper. I carefully placed the sticker paper onto the plywood and used a jigsaw to cut out my design. It worked out wonderfully and much better than expected. I then bought two pieces of frosted acrylic at the art store. I stapled them on the backside of the facade and then stapled the center on all the "o" letters. There's probably a better method, but mine worked and I was getting closer to my deadline at this point.

Step 6: Construction: Curtain and Bench

Picture of Construction: Curtain and Bench

The curtain attachment was somewhat tricky for me to figure out. I had already built the photobooth body and planned on using locking hinges that would attach to the top of the booth and to a metal pipe ring (which held the curtain) The hinges didn't work. So istead I drilled two holes and got two "T" PVC joints. I got PVC pipe, one size down from the "T" pieces, and fit them through. I then just drilled another small hole on the opposite side of the entrance and used a long wooden dowel to prop the curtain up. This way, when I had to move the photobooth, I could just take out the dowel and the curtain would collapse.

I built a really simple bench out of pieces of scrap plywood I had. I used extra cloth from the curtain and covered a piece of foam, glued it onto the bench. It actually looked very slick, but sadly I do not have a picture of it.

Step 7: Finishing Touches/ Conclusion

Picture of Finishing Touches/ Conclusion

I stained the photobooth a dark brown to give it a cool vintage feel.

I also purchased a slave flash that could be triggered by a camera's flash. It was only $20-30 brand new, I bought it off of ebay for $10.

Here were some problems I ran into:
- The solenoids were often too weak to push the button. Either that or the braces I made for them to stand over the printer and camera were too weak. Anyhow, that part of my booth failed and I had to open it up everyday to manually turn on the printer and camera. Here's where I got the idea from.
- My printer ran out of ink/paper every 100 photostrips. The problem was, I had to go to class and couldn't constantly check. Checking would also cause me to open up the booth from the back which was a hassel. I wanted to install some type of counter or sensor but this too was sacraficed for time.

I don't want to explain every single step I did, and plus I don't have enough pictures, but please let me know if you have more questions. I'd love to check out some other booths.

P.S. The Photoboof Forum is also a great place to get ideas from other DIY Photoboothers.


LaBelle4242 (author)2017-06-03

Great idea and clever set-up. Good on ya'.

instructablesbwuser (author)2016-11-09

PG Booth is a great app that allows for an easy DIY photo booth setup. If you use two devices you can have remote starting and has a remote slide show mode as well...check it out :)


apps store:

anyway someone can try the app first? There are lots of apps on the store

CorreyS1 (author)2015-09-24

Oh that would be fun to have a photobooth at a party. I wonder, can you actually rent this type of party equipment hire for any type of event besides on a birthday? This does give me an idea about presenting this to my brother since his daughter's sweet sixteen is coming up next week.

LoveL1 (author)2015-02-28

Great post. We are looking at replacing our current booth or expanding. I'm going to have a go at building our own. I love the finished product. LoveLaugh


instructerator made it! (author)2014-11-17

Great instruction! If you'd like to build the photobooth with an iPad using its front cam or connected to a Sony Camera by WIFI you should check out DIY Booth. I built a booth connected to a studio flash and get professional pictures by using devices I already had :)

aadkison (author)2011-12-17

Do you have any idea what kind of a budget a first time photobooth constructor would be looking at with this particular project?

bordersthree (author)aadkison2013-10-12

I've already priced my material from Home Depot for the box alone to be less than $100 not including tools and guts. As far as Electronics it up to each individual on how far they want to go. I myself already own a Nikon D90, a couple of LCD monitors, printer and lighting equipment. But I'm looking into purchasing a photo booth program that is made for DSLR, if interested in that go to

Hope this helps.

CRUWorkz (author)2013-04-03

Your links do not work?

rosani (author)2012-10-27

Gostaria de saber passo a passo da montagem do botão de iniciar o photo booth,pois o site mostra somente uma parte . Caso alguem saiba como montar por favor me diga.

alanjgreenwood (author)2011-11-23

Is there a possibility that you could post your dimensions of the wooden panels? size and font used for the wordart? :)

TheLodgeShop (author)2011-11-21

creative idea.

oophotobooth (author)2011-08-13

here's my sample photobooth prints

vcorpus (author)oophotobooth2011-10-19

Hi! What software are you using for this if you don't mind? Thanks!

marceloco (author)2011-05-04

You haven't posted any Forum Topics, yet.
The forums are the place to ask questions, share a cool project from another site, find collaborators for your latest project, or discuss anything of interest to the Instructables community. Create a Forum Topic now!

bruinchiq (author)2011-03-08

I was inspired by this Instructables post long long ago... and finally created my own home version! Here's the instructions and materials that I used to create it, using spare parts that were just on their way to recycling!

bangaram (author)2009-06-30

really its very good.u done great job mate because it is very clear and perfect but i dont understand one thing how the machine working when u put the coin inside.please can u explain the mechanism how coin work when u put in the booth.thank u very eagerly waiting for ur reply.

THE_GEEK2007 (author)bangaram2009-07-16

there is no coin mechanism. and I'm not an expert on that. I'm sure that there's someone on the internet that could help you with putting a coin slot into this.

dltl (author)THE_GEEK20072010-11-28

I too have had coin slot issues and found this informational video very helpful. Good luck!

johnwu (author)2010-11-15

Update: the application is now named Spark Booth.

vigorotaku (author)2010-11-11

Very good ideas here! Check out another example Photo Booth from a recent wedding at November 1st. It was a lot of fun and a really big hit! I have some diagrams of what I use with explanations and an example pic.
The specific link is here

vigorotaku (author)2010-11-08

Very good ideas here!

Check out another example Photo Booth from a recent wedding at
November 1st. It was a lot of fun and a really big hit!

I have some diagrams of what I use with explanations and an example pic.

shemartin (author)2010-10-09

Hi there I am extremely interested in paying someone to build me a custom photobooth for my upcoming wedding. I would like something nice that doesn't cost a wwwhhhole lot of money. Please email me at

cbossio (author)2009-03-18

I was hoping somebody could help me with alternative software. I played with the photoboof! software and it is very nice, but $600 is out of my price range. Anybody know of any cheap or possible free alternatives. I plan on building a booth for my wedding reception. Any ideas are welcome.

perfectexposure (author)cbossio2009-04-06


Good luck with your reception. You may want to check out for another photobooth software alternative. I'm not too sure of how reliable it is, but it seems to be able to do everything you would need. Let me know.

HI i am also intresting build a photo booth machine what is your recommendation which software you finnay select ? Thanks for advice David

cbossio (author)cbossio2009-04-10

I have found the breezysys website too and it looks promising until I looked at the supported cameras. With the program costing $100 and the cheapest supported camera costing around $500, I'm back to square one.

roccopeterbilt (author)cbossio2009-05-31

They may have updated their site as I found cameras on their list available on ebay very affordable.

emallett (author)cbossio2009-04-10 has a program that only cost about $100 and you get to try it for free (fully functional)

ngez (author)2010-02-14

Any One can please help me to find good Photo-booth software that can run in full-screen kiosk mode , and easy to use , that will work with Canon G10 .
also can give you option to select templed 
Thank you 

davider02 (author)ngez2010-08-31

HI i am also intresting build a photo booth machine what is your recommendation which software you finnay select ? Thanks for advice David

jumpfroggy (author)2009-06-13

I love the design of the "photobooth" backlit cutout! Looks great. I actually made a photobooth for my own use, though it didn't look nearly as nice as yours. I'm going to start selling the software soon (, since I really feel like there should be another option besides the $600 photoboof software (!!).

I've noticed that this can be a big hit not just as an installation, but if you bring it to events like weddings, birthday parties, etc. If it's small and portable, you can start bringing it places you never thought of. I'd love to make a booth similar to this that can be easily broken down and fit into the trunk of a car. If I end up making it, I'll post up an instructable.

davider02 (author)jumpfroggy2010-08-31

HI i am also intresting build a photo booth machine what is your recommendation which software you finnay select ? Thanks for advice David

jumpfroggy (author)jumpfroggy2009-11-19

The URL above is old.  It's now

I'm also working on putting together a site dedicated to all things photobooth related.  I'll post when I have it online.

pollyhyper (author)jumpfroggy2009-06-29

If you ever do an instructable of a portable booth, I'd love to see it! I'm very interested in doing this too.

jumpfroggy (author)pollyhyper2009-06-29

I'll put one up soon. I've already got another instructable in the pipes for a unique monitor stand... it'll be interesting :). After that, I'll do the photobooth one. Stay tuned!

nastone (author)jumpfroggy2009-06-14

I am wanting to build a photo booth using these plans with a few modifications of my own. I thought I would make it in two pieces that can be stacked on each other for portability. I would be very interested in purchasing the software from you if you can let me know it will work in a photo booth of this type with the subjects in control of the remote? I look forward to hearing from you. FYI I am not versed at all on writing my own programs.

jumpfroggy (author)nastone2009-06-25

The way it works is that after you set it up, it can be completely run by the guests. A guest can sit down, press the button, then it'll take 3 pictures (with a delay so they can repose) and then print out their photos. So once you set it up, you should be able to just leave it working.

1spartan95 (author)2010-07-26

Me and my sister really want to build one of these things!

jonesphotog (author)2009-08-03

What was your overall cost for this project?

jchorng (author)jonesphotog2009-09-20

I had gotten a school grant for $500 and used it all to buy all the materials. I'm sure if you're clever enough you can repurpose/recycle stuff and do it for much less!

teenhysterics (author)jchorng2010-06-17

How did you get the grant? I'm going into college this year so I'm curious.

zachschi (author)2010-05-24

Looks great! What type/size of photoprinter did you use?

thepartycow (author)2006-11-03

Awesome job on the photobooth. Awesome! I made the photobooth @ Shine and will be releasing it open source shortly. In short, it currently runs php pages on apache, a javascript countdown and then fires some python to take the images. After all four images are captured, using imagemagik, it creates the photostrip and adds the watermark and saves it. There is an uploader that runs in the background that is constantly looking for new images and uploads them to flickr. example image: <a href=""><img src=""></a> I also took each of the individual images, and using mencoder, put them together as a timelapse movie. We will be incorporating this into the API of one of the video services and I will be releasing the source code for this as well!

static (author)thepartycow2010-04-17

LOL bless the girls not to shy to flash the camera,

jchorng (author)thepartycow2007-11-05

This is so cool. I'm hoping to start on Photobooth 2.0 very soon and would love to collaborate. we must keep in touch!

Sumrhumr (author)jchorng2010-02-15

Sounds like you are the best authority I've seen so far on Photo booths on the web. I'm trying to build one for a wedding shower this summer. I would like one that we can load the pics into the computer and print at the same time so that there are two copies that print out side by side. I'm really confused about the whole set up. Building the booth is the least of my problems. It's the camera, the remote button, the program and the printer. I know I will need a very good printer. Will a canon point and shoot work or am I better off spending more on a good camera? Any help is really appreciated.

The DNR (author)2010-03-28

John Hobbs has developed 2 great free alternatives, a software one and a web based one.  Both are called OpenPhotoBooth.  I believe he is looking for collaborators as well.

picsbylc (author)2010-02-09

I am in the process of making something similar and was wondering if you could tell me more about the equipment and how it is hooked up.  Just more detailed information on your setup process and the equipment that you used.

LuciferRex (author)2009-11-13

 wow, this is amazing!  Kudos on a great project

About This Instructable




Bio: College Student at Carnegie Mellon University
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