Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Say Cheese!

I really, really want a photo booth at our wedding. Like, more than I want the dress or the the flowers, or the cake. I really want one.

But I can't have one. :-(

Have you seen the prices of photo booth rental?? It's extortionate! Up to £1000 for only 4 hours rental. And there is a limit on how many photo's you can have taken! Ridiculous.

I still want one though. Unfortunately it does not fit in our "get everything for as cheap as possible" plan. Or does it....?   *insert evil genius laugh here*

Because when I realised that a photo booth was way out of our budget, I started looking for alternatives. From what I could tell, lots of people had gone down the route of asking their photographer to set up a corner of the room and take pictures of people. Easy! But I don't want to have to pay my photographer any more than I already am. Besides, it's not the same when a person is taking the photo as opposed to a faceless, non-judging machine.

Then I heard about people setting up the corner of the room themselves, sticking a camera on a tri-pod and asking a bridesmaid or a friend to man it for a few hours. Well, that solves the money problem - but I don't want some of my friends and family to be stuck manning the photo booth all night. I want them to be having fun inside it!

So, back to the drawing board. Or, more realistically, back to Google! I was still sure I wanted a photo booth, I just don't want to pay a lot for it! Here's some pictures of DIY photo booths - how much fun do they look?

Looking at thousands of pictures like these just made me more determined that we should have a photo booth. And then, a miracle happened...

During one of many, many Googling sessions, I clicked on a website that had a link, and that link lead to an article, and the article sited a source and the source provided another link ( I could go on for a while - basically, I'm trying to explain that I don't remember where I found the original suggestion!) and the final link took me to...

Spark Booth!

The most amazing program ever made, as far as I am concerned. Some technical genius has actually made some software that turns your computer and webcam into a photo booth.

I have never been so excited in my life as I was when I realised that not only would we now be able to have a photo booth - but it would be really cheap!

Basically, we could install the software on my laptop (which has a built in webcam) and then set it up in the corner of the room, with a ncie backdrop of some kind. The guests just stand (or sit) in front and press space bar to begin. you can see yourself on the screen before you press the space bar, so it's easy to make sure your in the right spot. It then takes 4 pictures a few seconds apart and displays them in your chosen photo strip.

You can customise almost everything -the backgroung, the message on screen, the timings, the photo strip design. Loads of things to play about with - I definitely recomend downlaoding the 10 day trial to play with. Hours of fun!

As you can see, I had a play around with it. Please excuse my facial expression in the first shot - I wasn't expecting it to start! Also - how huge does my hand look in the last shot??

Anyway, Spark Booth will automatically save all the photo strips to your computer (and all individual photos if you want) and you can also set it to print out the strips or upload them in a site, such as Facebook.

How cool is that? I really want the photos to be put straight on facebook - that will save us having to buy a load of paper to print them out. Unfortunately, the long strip style I tested above doesn't upload to Facebook very well, so I will have to have 4 shots in a square instead, but that's ok.

I will also have to check if the venue has wi-fi -otherwise the photo's will have to be uploaded the morning after.

So to have this DIY photo booth I will need some sort of back drop - I like this painted sheet type one:
I think that would be quite cute in purple and green!

I'll also need the laptop (check) with webcam (check) and some sort of lamp/spotlight since my webcam doesn't have a flash. That's easy enough to do though.

I will also need a whole load of props

I think I've mentioned before how partial I am to fake moustaches. I plan to make some out of felt and have them on sticks. I'll also grab some hats, glasses, empty frames etc from local charity shops. And I really want some whiteboards or chalkboards shaped like speech bubbles! How easy would these be to make, do you think? Also, which is better, whiteboard and pen of blackboard and chalk? Personally I like the old school feel of chalk, but whiteboards might be easier and cleaner...

And my very last dilemma is whether to have the photos in colour or black and white...? I'm leaning towards black and white as everyone looks better in a black and white photo!

Oh, I almost forgot! Spark Booth is $59 to buy, and you can download a free 10 day trial - from what I can tell, the only thing different about the trial is that the watermark won't be on your final pictures.

I will keep looking to see if I can find any similar software that is a bit cheaper (or better yet, free!) before I decide to use this one. But now that I know it's an option, I can get excited about having a photo booth! Hurray!

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