Instructables

DIY Portable Wedding Photo Booth

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Picture of DIY Portable Wedding Photo Booth
While planning for our wedding we decided that it would be great to use a photo booth as our guest book.  After looking at rental costs I decided to take it upon myself to build my own, and since I like projects like this I thought it sounded like a lot of fun!

Since our wedding was taking place several states away it had to be easily portable.  And since it was our wedding it had to look as professional as possible, and be fully automated.  With those basic requirements and a lot of work I ended up with something that everyone was happy with, including my wife!

Overview
1) Photo Booth Software
2) Equipment
3) Start Button
4) Booth Frame
5) Booth Panels
6) Conclusion

If you enjoy this instructable please check out some of my other projects at http://www.laserpup.com
 
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Step 1: DSLR Remote Pro

The first item that I solved was what photo booth software to use.  I wanted something that automated the entire process, you click a button and eventually your photos get printed out.  That is the limit to the user interaction that I wanted.

Since I was attempting to make due with many of the resources I had around the house I was limited to a windows operating system, and all of the apple solutions were no longer an option.  I couldn't justify a new computer for this project!  

After looking at the price and features I settled on DSLR Remote Pro.  This has a photo booth mode that looked perfect, with just enough customization to get what I wanted.  There were versions of the software for both Canon & Nikon cameras, and the price was very reasonable when compared to the cost of the commercial photo booth software I found.

Display Screens

The software allows you to design custom display screens with operating instructions to the people in the booth.  These custom screens allowed me to reuse some graphics from our wedding website, and although I'm sure no one noticed I thought that this was a nice touch.

I created 4 screens that the user would see with different static text. 
1) Start Screen
     Displays a quick instruction on how to start the photo booth.
2) Count Down Screen
     The screen image does not contain any text, but the software will display a countdown timer and show what picture it is currently taking.
3) Smile Screen
     Displayed before the camera snaps the picture for ~ 1 sec.
4) Processing screen
     Displayed after all the pictures have been taken, a progress will show as the final photo strip image is created and sent to the printer. 

Print Options

There print options provided by the software were overkill for what I needed, and it really only took a few test prints to get exactly what I wanted.  Four photos per page, with the set of four duplicated on one 4x6 print.  The idea here was that after the photos have printed our guests could cut the photo in half with a pair of scissors, taking one copy of the print with them and dropping the other copy in a box for us.

We'll take all of the copies and eventually frame them into what will be our guest book.  I did get away from one of my requirements here by forcing our guests to cut the print in half.  That is more interaction than I originally wanted, but really couldn't figure an easy way around it.  In the end it worked out just fine, and no one seemed to mind.

Step 2: Equipment

To complete the project there were several pieces of equipment that I would need to put together to complete the photo booth.

1) Laptop 
     I have an older windows XP laptop I use for arduino coding that I thought would serve well
2) Camera
     The whole reason for building my own photo booth was so that I could finally have a reason to purchase a new dslr camera!  I rationalized it as for the rental cost of the booth I could build it myself and keep the camera.  While it didn't exactly work out that way, it was close enough.  :)
     I settled on the Canon 2Ti.  While it is way overkill for this project it's a camera that should last me a decade, and it certainly took great photos on our honeymoon.  The camera was mounted on top of the monitor using a gorrillapod dslr flexible tripod.  It isn't shown in the photos since a camera was needed for the photos.
3) Printer
    I was able to purchase a discontinued Epson PictureMate new off of ebay for ~$50.  The reviews on it I read were correct, 4x6 prints really do look like they came from the photo lab.  One ink cartridge lasted for all of my test prints, and all of the wedding photos.  I clearly underestimated how long these would last, as I have 2 unused cartridges left over.
4) Monitor
    I had an old dell 17" widescreen monitor I wanted to use as the video display inside of the photo booth.  This would allow those inside to see the live video feed, and adjust their faces accordingly.  

By placing the laptop outside of the photo booth it allowed people standing near it to see the live feed of the camera inside.  This lead to a few funny moments when people in the booth didn't realize they could be seen outside, I would highly recommend this!

Step 3: Start Button

Picture of Start Button
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Inside of the photo booth I wanted the user to press a button to kick off the entire process.  I didn't want people fiddling with keyboards and mice though.  The software I was using allowed for the use of an external button as the trigger.  Now I could have gone and purchased the Stealth Switch they recommend on the website, but what fun is there in that!

Instead I found the largest illuminated button that I could on ebay, and a week later I had a 4" diameter glowing red start button.   Link to instructions for DSLR Pro Software: http://www.breezesys.com/PSRemote/pushbtn.htm

To interface that to the laptop I hacked an old serial cable, and soldered pins 1 & 4 to the contacts of the button.  I had a 12 volt power supply for another upcoming project I temporarily requisitioned, and used to provide the illumination power.  A quick test with a multimeter showed that it worked as expected.

Since my laptop did not have a serial port I dug out a usb-serial conversion cable and plugged in my new arcade button.  The software has a separate button software application that will monitor a serial port for button presses.  I configured it to listen to the correct serial port and to provide the correct button press to the photo booth software to start the sequence.  A quick test proved that the button was ready for use, and it was time to start the building the enclose.



Step 4: Frame

Now that I had the internal electronics functioning it was time to start working on the frame of the photo booth.  I had originally considered making the frame out of wood, but quickly realized that it would not be possible to pack up the end product in my car and drive it across three states.  I ended up settling on a PVC plastic frame.  It is light enough for transport, easily breaks down, quick to cut, and pretty inexpensive. 

Unfortunately the local home depot does not sell the necessary corner joints to build structures out of PVC.  I found a small online vendor that sold furniture grade PVC , and offered the 3 & 4 way joints I was looking for.  I opted to go with 3/4" PVC pipe that offered the best price/weight/strength combination of the available sizes.  Link to PVC joint supplier: http://shop.dpsbargainbasement.com/

Once I had collected all of the PVC parts I started to experiment and determine the proper dimensions.  The height of the booth should be ~ 6', and the width should be 40".  This width  would allow two chairs placed next to each other to fit easily, and that height would allow some privacy for the people in the booth.

I first built the frame that would enclose the electronics.  This would be 18" in length, and provide a shelf at waist height to hold the camera & monitor in place.  I found that the weight of the monitor was too much without some additional support, and I came up with the two PVC support legs you can see in the picture below. 

The second part of the frame would be where the two chairs are placed.  This mirrors the electronics enclosure in size (6'x40"x18"), but is left open on one.  The two large frame structures are then connected by two additional pieces of PVC that were 30" in length to tie everything together and complete the structure.

The shelf was made from scrap pieces of an old Ikea headboard, and contains a small support for the red start button.  You may notice some pipe pieces are black. These were spray painted since some portions of these pipe may be visible once fully assembled.

Parts Breakdown
10 3/4" PVC Pipes
10 3/4" T Joints
2 3/4" Elbow Joints
10 3/4" 3-Way Joints
12 3/4" 4-Way Joints
Scrap wood for shelf

Step 5: Fabric Curtains

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To cover the PVC frame I thought the easiest thing would be to make fabric panels that would go over the top of the frame.  To fasten the panels to the PVC I chose to use Velcro.  I found 15 foot rolls of velcro at Jo Ann's fabric for a reasonable price.

The one problem with my method of covering the frame is that I do not know how to sew, nor do any of my friends.  Nor do any of us own a sewing machine.  I probably should have thought this through more!  Purchasing a sewing machine was more than I wanted to do for this project, but I did remember about fabric tape.  Fabric tape can be used for hemming items without actually sewing anything.  When heated by an iron it basically melts, forming a bond with the two pieces of fabric as it cools.

As a heads up to anyone thinking about something similar, this took a lot of fabric.  It was ~$120 worth of fabric to cover the entire booth.  And making fabric panels with the use of fabric tape takes a long time.  It certainly works and will get the job done, it just took me twice as long for this portion of the project as I thought it would.  I think the sewing machine is definitely the way to go, but fabric tape will work.

For the electronics enclosure I used 6' pieces of fabric with velcro strips on the top and bottom of the panels.  It took 3 panels total to completely enclose the frame.  The PVC frame for this part had matching velcro attached all the way around the top and bottom.  When the panel is connected to the velcro you can then tighten the panel by turning one of the pvc pipes. 

Once the electronic panels were completed I cut out a square area in the front panel large enough to display the monitor and the camera.  An 11x17" picture frame just happened to fit perfectly over the cut fabric edges, and I was able to hold the frame in place with thumb tacks.  This left it easy to assemble/disassemble.

The other half of the photo booth frame would require a two 12' long fabric panels.  These were made to drape over the top of the frame, and attach both sides to the bottom pvc pipe along the floor with velcro.  One side of each panel was sealed using the tape so that it presented a smooth finished look when people walked into the booth.

Once all of the fabric panels were completed I made two door panels and one photo backdrop panel to match the color of our wedding.


Step 6: Conclusion

In all I would call my photo booth a great success.  Everyone seemed to really enjoy it throughout the night, and we got some great pictures.  It was nice to be able to contribute something to the wedding that shows what I like to do in my spare time.  Once it was completed I was shocked to find that I could fit the entire booth (including 11x17 frame & shelf) into a large black duffel bag.  That certainly met my largest requirement of being able to transport it.

Two things I would do different:
1) Get a sewing machine.  The velcro did not like to be attached with fabric tape, but I did find the extra strength type held well enough to setup the booth a few times.  I also think I would have saved a few hours making panels.
2) Purchase the dc adapter for your camera.  I used 3 batteries throughout the night, and had to reposition the camera each time as a result of changing one out. 

Since it stores so nicely we will definitely keep the booth parts in the attic, and I'm positive it will make an appearance at some party in the future.  I hope this inspires you to use a photo booth at your next event!
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themusicdan2 months ago

Great job! I realize this isn't that new anymore, but I'm using your booth as a template for my own raspberry pi photo booth, and I really appreciate your link to http://shop.dpsbargainbasement.com/ - It was a real lifesaver! Thanks again for posting such a great write up!

sharypic6 months ago

Congrats for this DIY photo booth!

About the printing part, you can use this DIY Photo Booth.

Moreover, by syncing your photos with sharypic, you can broadcast all photos big screen during dinner or any other moment of the wedding.

jberolo9 months ago
This was one the best DIY on making a photo booth, after spending about 3 hours searching on the web and google. Thank you so much. Now it will my turn to create my photo booth
Awesome job-- I just posted my own Photo Booth enclosure and am exploring light options. Did you just use your camera flash (I have the t3i, so basically the same model) or did you use other lights as well?
ulfilas1 year ago
Only 1 supplier in the UK :(
www.ixi-devices.com
dcivarson1 year ago
Love the concept, this would have been a hit at my wedding. Will keep it in mind for the next generation!!!
hekies1 year ago
Hi, would like to copy your booth but since it's a PVC construction did you have a problem on instability? did you add any other support to keep it stable?

Thanks
Nice! http://www.orlandophotobooth.net/
sleman2 years ago
DSLR Remote Pro was a bit pricey for me at $175 and seemed pretty complicated. I did some searching and found dslrbooth.com. As far as camera settings, much better to put the camera in manual once you've setup your lighting. Put shutter on 1/60 and experiment with ISO and aperature till the picture is bright enough. If you don't want to bother, just put it in Program mode.
polo7242 years ago
hi what was your setting on the camera? auto or manual, thanks
polo7242 years ago
HI Dohjoe nice photobooth, I'm working on 1 too for my daughter's 16th bday and I hope you don't mind if I copy your design. I like that push button idea but I'm clueless with wirings and soldering. How did you construct this big red button? any schematic or plan from start to finish and parts list, I would greatly appreciated, thank you.
I have recently built a photobooth for our upcoming wedding, and I decided to write my own photobooth software. It will be available as "open source" here soon probably on source forge. If anyone can use it, let me know! (its for canon cameras only)
maximus44443 years ago
dohjoe - Where did you get your arcade push button? I've been looking for one just like that but I can't find anything that looks like the "Big Red Button" concept.

Any ideas?
The best place i found to order this size push button was at spark fun http://www.sparkfun.com/products/9181
I was able to find the 3-way joints at Lowes.
nbua3 years ago
Probably a stupid question but I really need to know for the background .. What are the Dimensions.. How tall and how wide should the booth be ? I want to create a background and not sure what size the average photo booth is!

Thanks :)
trevormates3 years ago
Very cool. You can also get the 3-Way and 4-Way PVC joints from formufit.com. Another great source.
joeny19803 years ago
An idea, instead of leaving a pair of scissors out - I would suggest buy a perforator for a few bucks and just perforate all of your 4x6 photo paper before hand.

I would have liked if the alignment of the photos was a little better positioned (there was alot of negative space) maybe making the curtain area smaller would have helped to have better framed shots.

Cool project though, very nice.
Never would have thought to use a perforator... guess you'd just have to test it a couple times on a few printouts to preforate at just the right spot & not chop any of the photo, but it definitely saves you from imposing the the hassle of having folk cut (and potentially mess up with) the photos themselves. GREAT idea, joeny1980!!
Has anyone looked at Sparkbooth? Its a lot cheaper then DSLR Remote Pro.
lumlum3 years ago
hi! I am the president of a club on my college campus and thought it would be great to have one of these booths not only for taking pictures, but for also showing short video clips of our club and power points.

we have all the techonology, but need an easy to set up, portable booth like the one you built. would it be possible for us to buy the one you made or pay you to make one?

thanks and have a great day!
palkster3 years ago
Very nice. I built a booth for our wedding. I like your use of PVC as it looks alot more portable than our wooden one which now resides outside on our porch. Our frames looked similar. But I did build the main unit in two pieces which were held together with bolts and butterfly nuts. This allowed me to fit it into my Prius with two trips. The outside is paneling which I painted. Inside the booth, I had my MacBook running a program called Partybooth. I had an external monitor, and a hole big enough for a web cam. Below the monitor was a button similar to yours. It printed out 2 copies of 2x6 strips. One for them, one for our book. We also had a box of props which turned out to be alot of fun. The party lasted longer than expected because everyone wanted to do the photobooth again. It was a hit!
photo.jpegphoto-1.jpeg
Awesome colors palkster! Do you have an 'ible on this? What does the inside look like? Thanks!
I didn't take the time to document my work. Mainly because I started two days before the wedding, So it was thrown together at the last second. But the inside had a monitor with a webcam hole above and a start button below. On both sides of the monitor I cut out and installed fluorescent lights so people weren't dark blobs, and because our reception was at a park at night. We had a generator running to power the booth's peripherals as well as the other lights and music at the party. Sadly, after taking up space on our porch for four months, I dissembled it and the parts are now waiting to be used on some future project.
johnwu palkster3 years ago
(removed by author or community request)
palkster johnwu3 years ago
Dear John Wu,
After searching the web for the best photo booth software, I decided that Party Booth was the all out winner. It had every feature I needed, was SO easy to use and affordable. I hope your software gets great attention because it made our reception a blast!
johnwu palkster3 years ago
Update: the application is now named Spark Booth
mhudnall3 years ago
Very nice! Our friends built a photo booth for their wedding as well, only out of plywood, metal framing and it had white-board on the outside so folks could write messages. Inside had a bench and a touch screen.

Cost was kept relatively low because things like the printer, software, and high end camera was already owned by the bride's brother, who does event photography. They were even able to use it again for when the bride's brother got married two weeks later. Plus it makes appearances at all the parties.

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I love this mhudnall! Do you have an 'ible on this? Thanks!
firefhtr93 years ago
Do you happen to remember which model PictureMate you used?
jongscx3 years ago
I love it when nerds get married. It gives me hope for humanity's future...

Another idea is that you could put a dry-erase tablet and tethered marker inside of the booth, so that the subjects could scrawl out a message :-D

LOVE that idea! Dry erase tablet! Going on my list! Thanks!
hammer98763 years ago
Very nice! Some people get very creative with only four photos and can actually act out a story line. Well, maybe not with the addition of alcohol.
The alcohol might make it a bit more interesting of a story line... in my group of friends it would be R rated at least! lol! Great comment!
gnume3 years ago
did any one try to use one way mirror for the camera ?
Wow! Really neat idea! I am going to do some research into that and see if it would be a better alternative. Good idea! Thanks!
RedMeanie3 years ago
Awesome Idea!! Ive always wanted something like this for parties. Also Great work on the Instructable itself!

What did the software run you? Also can you can you give a Ballpark figure on total costs?

Nice Work!
dohjoe (author)  RedMeanie3 years ago
The construction cost of the booth (not electronics) was ~$225 for all of the fabric/pvc/etc. The retail price of the software is $175, although they do offer a fully functional 30 day trial.
Smitty75 dohjoe3 years ago
I bought the DLSR software but having trouble setting the
photo size . Could I ask your help on settings ?
papadoo1atgmail.com
Thanks,
Smitty75
vigorotaku3 years ago
Great Setup!
Check out another example Photo Booth from a recent wedding at http://vigorotaku.blogspot.com/ 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 link to the specific page is here
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