How to Start a Photo Booth Business

How to Start a Photo Booth Business

You’re a creative. You’re an entrepreneur. You’re not satisfied with the status quo. You like to push boundaries and redefine what success looks like. Congratulations, you’re our kind of person.

Now it’s time to take your career to new levels. It’s time to branch out on your own and start a photo booth business! It’s overwhelming, of course, but that hasn’t stopped you in the past and it won’t stop you now. With some tech know-how and a healthy dose of ambition, you’re ready to conquer the field.

Now you may be asking yourself, “how???” You’re not alone. No matter how seasoned an event planner or creative you are, there is always more to learn. Trust us, we’ve been in the photo booth business for years and seen firsthand the overwhelming amount of knowledge you need.

Luckily, you’re not alone. We’ve compiled a step-by-step guide to walk you through what it takes to launch your photo booth business.  

The Basics

Photo booths are typically made up of a monitor, a computer (for the monitor and software), photo booth software, a great camera, a flash, and an exciting background. You’re also going to want a printer if you’re offering prints.

These are the must-haves. There is a lot more you can add-on, though. It’s 2018, offering the basics probably won’t cut it, especially if you’re catering to high-end, tech savvy customers. A good idea in today’s market is to cater to specific niches. You can market and brand yourself as THE go-to photo booth business for a given niche (don’t worry, we’ll explain how to do this below).

The niche you pick will impact the gear you choose. So, if you become LA’s underwater photo booth business of choice, you’re going to want to invest in underwater equipment and cameras. Make sure to pick up spiffy swimwear too!

Photo Booth Gear

Picking the right gear is definitely the most difficult decision you’re going to make. Since we have over ten years of experience in the photo booth industry, we’re here to help. We started from scratch and have now served thousands of photo booth owners across the globe. We know what it takes to succeed and are here to make sure you do too.

photo booth gear

So, gear talk.  

Your choice of booths is almost unlimited. Gone are the days of two-foot-tall computers, enclosed booths, and glitchy software. Depending on the look you’re going for, and the objective of your photo booth business, your options are overwhelmingly large.

There’s the open photo booth. Today’s most popular option, open booths are basically cameras, backgrounds, and props. The camera, computer, monitor, and flash are held in a custom, lollipop style housing. This allows all of the guests at any party to see the photo booth action.

The rest is customizable depending on the type of photo booth business you’re running. A lot of open booths have green screens and other virtual reality options. Regardless of the specifics of your open booth, this is a smart option to pick if you want to create an inclusive experience for the entire party. More people taking photos = more people having a good time.

There’s the enclosed photo booth. This is what most people think of when they think of photo booths. Enclosed booths are, as the name subtlety suggests, enclosed. They usually have a curtain door and can fit anywhere from two to ten people inside. The camera is often stationary, though many newer enclosed photo booth businesses do offer panning cameras.

Modern Software

After your gear, the software you pick for your photo booth business is going to be the most important decision you make. After all, what’s great hardware if you can’t get it to work properly? You’re going to want to find an easy to use software that offers a variety of templates and options to play around with. Your customers want to see customization and innovation in their photos. You better believe your competitors are offering just that.

The flexibility of high quality photo booth software gives you a great opportunity to scale your services. Consider this: you start simply and, as you learn more and book more clients, you’re able to transition to adding additional services. This gives you versatility and an invaluable edge over your competition.

If you’re adding a photo booth to your already impressive arsenal of event planning services, then you’re going to want social sharing software options.

Regardless of the type of software you choose, you’re going to need some technical support. We know you want to be a superhero – we did too for a long time – but you can’t do it all. Get a team on your side who can! That means a support team who can help fix issues as they arise.

In fact, you’re going to want support along the entire road of creating, growing, and dominating the photo booth business market. Part of this is emotional support (we’re looking at you Aunt Carol), but part is going to be a professional support team. These are the people who have the solutions to tech challenges, business challenges, branding challenges, and more.

Don’t forget to make use of the entire photo booth community. We’re talking about forums, online support, online solutions, and even passionate Facebook groups. We even have a private LAPP Facebook group as well.

Let’s Talk Money

Depending on the events you’re working, your expenses can vary. Depending on how far away the event it, your gas costs can pile up. Of course, it’s going to cost a lot more to drive an SUV than a Prius, so choose your transportation wisely. This is one reason to pick a portable yet powerful photo booth that fits in the truck of any car.

how much does it cost to buy a photo booth

There are ink and paper costs to consider if you’re using a printer. Rolls of paper and ink can get expensive if you don’t have the right supplier. Make sure that you do your research and find the most affordable vendors, or even find online suppliers with low shipping costs. You’re also going to want to make sure that your ink and paper costs are added to the event fees to protect yourself from printing 500 photos and taking a loss.

You’re going to want to consider various software features and how they’ll affect printing costs. Remember those social sharing options we mentioned above? Opting for these means your guests will be much more likely to share and much less likely to print.

While it might be tempting to use these features and slash your prices, that’s not always the best course of action. While other photo booth companies have hit rock bottom with their prices, you can brand yourself as an exclusive and upscale provider by keeping your prices competitive. Sure, you might miss out on some business by doing this, but the sheer number of options your guests have – sharing their photos across all social media right away, customize all their photos to their liking – will make you stand out that much more.

Know Your Business Model

Now to the serious stuff. Running a photo booth business requires a business license. Are you going for a limited liability company or a sole ownership? You’re also going to have to create contracts in order to make sure that there are no legal concerns like cancellations, late payments, and vendors stiffing you.

It pays dividends to take care of all this prior to launching your photo booth business. Trust us on that one.

Once you’ve figured out the type of photo booth business you’re going to create, it’s time to develop your unique value proposition (UVP). This comes back to a lot of what we mentioned above – what types of customers do you want? What’s your niche? What makes you stand out from other photo booth brands?

While we can’t answer these questions for you, we can offer you some helpful questions to ask yourself. Consider the following:

  • Why are you starting a photo booth business in the first place?
  • If it’s to add to an event planning business, what types of events do you usually host? What types do you stay away from?
  • If it’s to add to an already established brand, what’s your current UVP? How have you seen customer success in the past? How can a photo booth add to that?
  • Who are the other photo booth businesses in your area? What do they offer? What don’t they offer?
  • Are these businesses successful? If so, why? If not, why?
  • What can you do that they’re doing? What can you improve on that they’re doing?

The answers to these questions will form the basis of your UVP. Once you have that in place, it’s time to start marketing your business!

Photo Booth Business Marketing

You need to build a site, grow your social media audience, and promote your business. This is easier said than done. Make sure that you have a website with all the info and specs of your services, along with photos of your photo booth. Don’t forget positive reviews and testimonials. People want to know they can trust you to be the best entertainment at their event!

You’re going to want to invest some time in learning the basics of SEO, social media marketing, email marketing, and more. This is a pain in the butt to add on top of everything else, we know, but it’s necessary for photo booth success.

photo booth business marketing

Marketing across social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, along with search engine marketing on Google, will help you get found in your local market. This also helps create an emotional connection between your audience and your company. This connection goes by many names, but we like to call it your brand.

Know your target demographics and how they make decisions. This is true whether you’re catering to twenty-year old millennials or forty-year old businessmen. Learn where they go online and make sure you’re there with relevant and useful content. We mentioned the social sharing abilities of photo booths above, and that enters back into the picture here. Your guests can share their photos right at the event, creating an instant social buzz that your photo booth brand is the backbone of.  

We wish you nothing short of the best of luck on your new journey when starting your photo booth business. Actually, scratch that. We wish you nothing short of tremendous success!

It’s going to be stressful and overwhelming at times, but there is nothing in the world like creating and growing a strong brand. Remember, we’re always here to help. Come on in, let’s party.

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