I have a confession to make. I thought running a photobooth was easy. I was wrong, so very very wrong! Let me explain.
Our started a five years ago. You see, I am a professional wedding photographer in Nottingham. One of the things I had noticed was that photobooths were incredibly popular as a way of entertaining your guests. Often they would have a line of guests queuing for their turn.
It seemed so easy, just put the booth up. Next add some props then let guests enjoy the party. Collect the easy money. Win!
The only downside was the size of the photobooths meant that it wouldn’t fit in our car. So we never really pursued the idea. Until the Magic mirror’s came along. All of a sudden, here was a ‘photobooth’ which could break down and fit into the back of our car.
All of a sudden, it seemed like a no brainer. I mean I am already at the wedding. Why not add a magic mirror booth to my services and earn more money.
I had visions of me setting the booth up, leaving it unattended whilst I partied the night away with the guests taking more photos on the dancefloor. I’d just occasionally need to pop back to make sure it’s all still working. I could just keep an eye on it from afar.
We invested a considerable sum into a magic mirror and soon were bundling the service in with our wedding photography and videography packages. After all, wedding photographer’s are one of the first services to get booked after the venue. So we had a natural advantage over other suppliers who couldn’t combine services like we could.
So what went wrong?
Well as it turns out, a lot! Firstly we massively underestimated the amount of work involved. You see it really wasn’t a case of turning up with the equipment, setting it up and letting it run itself.
We hadn’t factored in the loading and unloading at home. The unit is so large you can’t just pop it into a cupboard. Not to mention that not all venues have easy access to the room. So there was a lot of time we’d not calculated in carrying the heavy equipment from A to B.
Secondly we very quickly realised that you cannot just wander off like we naively imagined. You needed a dedicated member of staff to help drunk guests press buttons and collect the duplicate photos for the bride and groom. Not to mention if you didn’t keep a close eye on the props. They would naturally gravitate towards the dance floor and/or vanish into the night.
Thirdly as mentioned, I am a wedding photographer but my wife is also a wedding videographer. By the evening, we’ve usually already put in a ten to twelve hour day. Adding three more hours for the photobooth and another hour to pack it up and store it once we got home was making an incredibly long day even longer.
What we did next
After a few months, we realised that we’d made one of the biggest business mistakes ever. We both vastly underestimated the amount of work it involved. It’s not just a simple case of having fun and collecting easy money. Running a photobooth business is hard work! Very hard work!
We eventually sold it to a company that had experience in operating photobooths. Someone with the staff and expertise required to make it a success.
My Top Tips to couples
If you are looking for a fun way to entertain guests then hiring a photobooth is a great way to do this. However, I hope from reading this that you will realise that the reality of operating a photobooth is hard work and when you hire the booth for three hours that a lot more work goes into it than you may realise.
My Top Tips for Suppliers
If you are thinking about adding a photobooth to your business. Then I would strongly advise you to have a really good think about how doing so would fit into your existing services. Would you have the synergies that are needed?
Do you mind staying late at wedding receptions and can you tactfully deal with drunken guests who may not be listening or taking care of your very expensive photobooth?
If the answer to the above is yes then it can be a fun industry to be in.