Why have a Photo Booth at your event ?

People have been taking photos of one another since photography became accessible to the public with the Kodak 1 camera in 1888 and the “selfie “ has become part of everyday language.

However, most of the pictures taken today especially with the ever-present iPhone soon get forgotten, lost in the “cloud” or buried in social media news feeds.

Smartpicsuk retro photo booth
The Smartpicsuk open style photo booth

 

The photo booth makes these spontaneous fun pictures available immediately to take away as a real photograph to be treasured forever stuck on the fridge door or in a frame on a desk.

Guests of all ages get to mingle as the booth acts as a real draw and an icebreaker at all events including weddings, or other life events as well as corporate marketing and promotional occasions.

Wedding photo booth at London venue Instant postcard sized prints with bespoke graphics.
Instant postcard-sized prints from a Wedding photo booth

Modern photo booths come in a variety of styles and layouts to suit all requirements and budgets.

There are two main styles available, the first being the traditional oval booth often called a “passport photo” machine as these were derived from the machines used typically in train stations to provide passport and ID pics.

The machines were often used for fun pictures and every teenager had a strip of photos often with their best friends and usually pulling silly faces.

With the arrival of the digital revolution it became possible for the machines to be broken down and setup at party or hospitality venues in fact anywhere where people gather to have fun.

The Everybooth Lite can be used outdoors
The Everybooth Lite can be used outdoors powered by integral battery packs

The second style is the open booth which as the name suggests is open plan with a backdrop or the features of the venue itself. It is not unusual to use the booths outside using the grounds and buildings themselves as a backdrop.

Camera units are often styled as old fashioned plate cameras but the technology they hide within their handmade exteriors is anything but old fashioned. The DSLR camera found in the better units are likely to be of the same make and type as the majority of professional photographers use.

Computers running bespoke specialist software, and printers as seen in high street photo printing shops and professional studio lighting complete the package.

Advantages of this open style booth include being able to have more people in the pictures with guests being able to interact and join the fun instead of being hidden behind a curtain.

Smartpicsuk photo booth at London corporate event party.
Corporate photo booth London

As well as printing physical photos modern setups can also send the photos straight to guest’s phones by email or text and from there you can guarantee they will be shared on social media. This will show the world how popular your party or special day is and if you are hosting a promotional or marketing event, it could add huge exposure and increased engagement with your brand.

Bespoke graphic designs with your own text or logos and a choice of props make each occasion unique to you, make it yours with memories to last forever.

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Why have a photo booth at weddings?

 

wedding photo booth is now the “must have” feature for any wedding celebration or party

It is guaranteed to keep your guests entertained throughout the day and evening. Young and not-so-young will love its ability to “break the ice” as two families and groups of friends come together after a long time apart and sometimes for the first time.

Wedding photo booth

People have been taking photos of one another for years but how many times have you had your picture taken and never seen it?  Today everybody can take home a real physical photograph to keep, able to instantly bring back forgotten memories.

The “selfie“ has become a part of the modern language but a modern photo booth, even with vintage styling, takes this to a new level.

Colorful backdrops and props add to the magic of the photo booth
Summer style photo booth backdrop

With built-in professional quality cameras and studio lighting, the new models are capable of producing instant photo prints and sharing to mobile phones and social media, straight from the booth.

Not just photo prints either, but boomerangs and animated GIF’s bring the photo booth right into the internet age and are hugely popular with Millennials.

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Newer models with specialised software can offer contactless interaction with the booth allowing pictures to be taken and then sent straight to the users’ individual phone for sharing with friends and family.

This is a very welcome addition to the service in these unusual times of avoiding touchscreens and limited numbers of guests wanting to send instant pictures to absent friends and family who can’t be there due to restrictions limiting the number of guests.

The best wedding photo booth companies will also have an attendant or “booth butler“ to help and oversee the technology side as well as making sure guests get the very best pictures possible. They will also curate a luxury guestbook if you have requested this service.

Photo booths add fun and memories at any wedding
Wedding photo booth

Traditional enclosed booths often referred to as a “passport photo machine” have now been superseded by the open style booth. No longer hidden behind a curtain or fenced in, guests will have more room to pose in solo’s, duo’s or large groups.

Tailor-made backdrops to suit your theme or style come with the booth but sometimes the best backdrop is no backdrop and the unique features of the venue itself can be the perfect background scene.

Props add to the fun of the event and come in a range of styles from the traditional silly hats & glasses to more stylish items such as vintage musical instruments and cameras. Most of the premium providers will have a large range to suit any style or occasion.

As well as a choice of backdrops the photos themselves can also be branded or themed and your message printed in your chosen layout.

Wedding photo booth at Londoln venue
Wedding photo booth The Brewery London

Some of the newer booths such as the Everybooth Lite operated by us at Smartpicsuk can run on built in battery packs making them suitable for setting up outside which is especially relevant in these days of social distancing. 

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The UK law commission has recently proposed a change in the law to allow Couples in England and Wales to get married outdoors or in family houses. It has suggested private gardens, beaches, parks, and cruise ships as potential suitable venues.  See BBC report here

The Everybooth Lite can be used outdoors
The Everybooth Lite can be used outdoors powered by integral battery packs

As Smartpicsuk is based in London’s Royal Greenwich close to one of the most beautiful parks in the country we cannot wait to set up our booths for an alfresco wedding and reception.

Get in touch with us here at Smartpicsuk® if you have any questions about how a photo booth will add fun and future memories on your special day.

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6 photo booth predictions for the new normal

Photo booths post lockdown, our thoughts !

1. Sizeable gatherings at parties and weddings will be replaced with more intimate groups and perhaps, outdoor ‘al fresco’ style parties. Gardens and rustic barn settings will become the sought after location. Guest numbers in the main venue may be limited and brand new booths, such as our Everybooth® Lite model will operate with integral battery packs meaning they are perfect to use in event grounds or under a marquee.

Photo booths will be used in more outdoor settings in the modern age.
Photo booths will be used more often in open air settings This was at one of our corporate Christmas parties.

2. Open-air booths will be used instead of the traditional “passport picture“ styled oval booths – already very popular, our retro-styled booths look like old fashioned wooden plate cameras and are used with either a custom backdrop or with features of the venue itself, such as a bookcase or an ornate wall.

The Everybooth Lite can be used outdoors
The Everybooth Lite can be used outdoors powered by integral battery packs

3. It is unlikely that props will be used in the same way as they have been. This is especially true with silly hat and mask type props. Instead, guests will pose for more sophisticated images including glamorous B&W photographs –  often called “The Kardashian Booth“, our Everybooths® has been adapted with both software and traditional photographic optical filters. This combined with professional studio lighting and a Canon DSLR camera gives a truly flattering professional photographic image worthy of printing as well as sharing.

B&W Glamour booth often called the Kardashian booth. It has square photos for the Instagram generation
B&W glamour booth often called “The Kardashian Booth ” with square pictures for the Instagram generation

4. Hygiene routines and “social distancing“, if applicable, will be a primary concern. The small number of props that may be used such as the retro microphone can be thoroughly sanitised with alcohol-based wipes. Hand sanitiser will also be available – our photo booths always have a photographer/team member present to ensure the smooth running of the booth. In addition to assisting guests to achieve the best picture, they will now have the added responsibility of ensuring guests adhere to guidelines for everybody’s well being.

5. Technology, as always, will provide the solution. We now have the ability to offer contactless photo booths. Guests can register either at the event or prior to arrival with their smartphones. The link gives them a unique QR scanner code which they present to the screen on the front of the booth. This begins the photo booth action and instantly emails or texts the picture to their phone as well as printing a postcard-sized image. The whole photo booth experience can now be completed with absolutely no physical touching by the guests and with no waiting in a queue. Now that is a game-changer!

6. The photo booth business has always adapted and innovated since it’s beginning in 1925. The very first was called the Automaton and was in New York on Broadway near Times Square. Customers queued around the block for the chance to have 8 pictures taken and printed in 10 minutes. Again the industry will rise to this current viral challenge that will see bigger changes than when film was replaced by digital photography.

The picture that changed my photographic life and how Fujifilm delivered the last piece of the puzzle.

Trawler men in Hastings. pictures to accompag quotas .
Editorial photography Fujifilm XT1 and 18-55 Straight out of camera jpeg

It started with a phone call from the picture editor of one of country’s best selling newspapers asking me to catch a flight that evening to Amsterdam to accompany a journalist for a story first thing the next morning.

I was warned to be very discrete as the story could be very sensitive to some people. It involved a Dutch trawler that was registered in the UK under a flag of convenience that enabled it to use up 25% of the UK fishing quota by just one “industrialized” super trawler. The owners may not have liked the presence of English journalists hence the need for discretion.

I had recently started using the Fuji X mirrorless system starting with the Xpro 1 which I purchased on one of Fuji’s brilliant deals which came with 2 free lenses which got me hooked with an XT1 and more lenses soon following.

I made a decision to only take only the Fuji kit in a small camera bag with 2 bodies and 5 lenses from the 10-24 to the 55-200 for the longer shots.

This was a momentous decision for me as since the professional adoption of digital in about 1999 I had never left the country with anything less than 2 Nikon DSLR;s and at least 3 pro range zooms and a Macbook pro along with flashguns and chargers etc. Even on family holidays all this kit came with me.

Checking in for the flight was a delight with no breaking kit down in overcoat pockets and risking other equipment in the hold. All the cameras and lenses came with me in the overhead baggage lockers.

On arrival at the docks we found the ship easily and I set about taking photographs with the XT1 and 18-55 “kit’ lens, I really don’t know why it’s referred as a kit lens as it’s a brilliant high quality standalone lens.

I was lucky with the light but I still couldn’t believe the quality of the pictures I was seeing on the rear LCD screen. I quickly downloaded the pictures to an IPad and was amazed at how good they looked. The above picture is a straight out of camera Jpeg with no enhancement in Photoshop.

I edited the pictures on the IPad using Photogene whilst travelling back to the city in the back of a taxi and sent a few to the office straight from the passenger seat.

A few minutes later I had a phone call from the picture editor saying what great pictures but “where did I get them” When I told her I had taken them about an hour ago she was staggered and was of the belief they had been given to us from a marketing or communications agency such was the quality of the picture it could have come from an annual report cover.

Link to newspaper article.

Nigel Farage interviewed by Simon Walters at Shepards resturant Westminster
Lunch with Nigel Farage Fuji XPro2

From then on the Fuji’s went everywhere including trips to Kuwait, Nicaragua and the military coup in Turkey all with no advance notice at all. The Fuji Kit remains packed in one bag and ready to go at the drop of a hat.

All the kit worked without fault enabling me to get around lightly and quickly without drawing attention to myself. People don’t feel intimidated by the Fuji cameras the way they do when they look at a DSLR. I’ve photographed politicians during interviews and they don’t notice the almost silent shutter and are much more relaxed.

Political portrait with Fujifilm XPro2
Very quick editorial portrait of senior politician. Taken in dark office with Fujifilm XPro2 and 56mm F1.2 shot wide open.

There were still a few doubts though as to whether I was going to be 100 % Fuji for my editorial work. I found myself in the cities of Paris and Brussels unfortunately for the wrong reasons covering terrorist atrocities. This is a situation where the Fuji system should come into its own enabling me to move around quickly. But the problem I had was the very real fear that another atrocity could occur whilst I was there and I would need a long and preferably fast lens to cover a live breaking news story.

The longest lens I could use was the 50-140 mm with the X 1.4 converter which would give me the full frame equivalent of almost 300mm F4.

I really needed my 500 F4 Nikon and  X 1.4 converter just for peace of mind. So the 500 F4 came with me and also of course the full frame DSLR body and of course charger. Then you worry what about a spare body. In the end I just took the whole Nikon outfit. I had chosen to drive to these cities from London rather than fly so expensive cameras in the aircraft hold wasn’t an issue.

Then along came the 100-400 and the first time I picked it up in a trade show I knew I had to have it. Here was a  lens that gave me 600mm F5.6 performance in a lens not much physically bigger or heavier than an 80-200 F2.8. Shooting some test pictures in a fairly gloomy convention hall I was staggered by the quality of the images taken handheld in not ideal circumstances but the sort of  real world everyday situation a photojournalist can find themselves. The image stabilization is second to none and I was able to take good quality photographs that any photography book or course will tell you isn’t possible at the sort of shutter speeds I was using. 30th sec or longer. You are more concerned with movement of the subject rather than camera shake. This lens throws away the rule books.

I was so impressed I pre-ordered one on the spot before they even had an availability date.

Another piece of the photographic puzzle had been put into place.

 

During this past year something else happened, I started going out to shoot personal pictures purely for my own pleasure something I haven’t done for quite some time.

Either near our Greenwich base or on assignment for the newspaper in various locations.

I even started experimenting with black and white and long time exposures. The enjoyment I was having would never had happened lugging a DSLR and lenses around.

fujifilm-photography-infrared
Personal photography Infrared with Fujifilm Xpro1 and 18mm F2

There was still one very important piece of the jigsaw missing and that was the absence of a professional grade flash for use on the hot shoe. I’m not a fan of on camera flash believing that should be used for court defendants, disgraced politicians, late night car crashes and general press scrums. I was mainly using available light or Elinchrom Ranger studio lights or perhaps the small Nissin I40 which whilst very compact it lacked the power and fast recycling of a pro flashgun with an external battery pack such as a Quantum Turbo.

This meant the Nikon DSLR’s were still needed if I thought I would need flash on a news job. Then Fujifilm started shipping the EF X 500 flashgun which had been announced months before. It had been delayed by months but they obviously wanted to get it perfect as a premium product.

Instagram photo's Smartpicsuk
Personal work whilst away on assignment.Fujifilm XT2 and 50-140mm

I’m pleased to say the wait was worthwhile and it works straight out of the box performing  flawlessly. I managed to mislay the manual in the box but that was no hindrance to having it working without drama including high speed sync to 8000th of a second without special triggers or setup. This was the first time I’ve ever used high speed sync and it’s just perfect for fill flash with those fast prime lenses used at wide apertures.

The future is looking very bright for the Fujifilm system especially with the company’s frequent firmware upgrades under their Kaizen philosophy which literally means “Change good”. It’s like getting a brand new camera every now and again when the new firmware is released which is like getting a new updated camera model. I’m sure some manufactures when they develop new firmware just release a new camera with an ’S” in the name or a different model number. I love opening those new boxes with the fancy packing reminiscent of Apple products packaging but getting a “new “camera after a 5-minute upgrade performed at home is much better still.

Development of the Fujifilm cameras and indeed all mirrorless  systems will continue at an increasing pace. The cameras have improved in design rapidly for such a young technology  compared with traditional DSLR’s. If you take the lens off a 1960 Nikon F and a brand new D5 and peer inside there isn’t much difference to look at them. Better engineering and exotic metals but still that great big mirror “flapping “nosily up and down.

The camera chips and imaging processors will improve with vastly improved focusing and ISO range. I don’t believe we need more mega pixels in the X series especially with the “medium format” GFX 50S due for delivery in early 2017. Global electronic shutters are in development which will do away with “rolling shutter “effects especially with moving subjects. Flash sync should be available at any shutter speed with even low power flash. 32 000 sec wide open in bright sunshine with full lighting control anybody ? This is why the GFX lenses have no leaf shutters, they are about to become obsolete.

A wish list for the future? I’m reliably informed there are advanced plans for a “pro” backup service for fast repairs and loan equipment for professional users. They already have a range of professional dealers who are not only knowledgeable but enthusiastic about the X system.

A fast telephoto such as a 200 F2 or a 300 F2.8 would be very useful especially with the new sensors in the future. Another necessity is the ability to send pics direct to an FTP server via Wi-Fi for both the newspaper wire services and the corporate event and conference photography which I’m involved in.

The arrival of the EF X 500 flash was the final piece in the puzzle that enabled me to rely on my Fuji system for all my editorial needs. A remarkable journey in a relatively short period of time when considered I’ve been shooting digital professionally for 18 years now.

6 Essential points for booking an event photographer.

1   What do you actually want and what are your’s and your clients requirements and expectations?

Here at Smartpicsuk® we are accustomed to receiving vague enquiries about “booking a photographer for a couple of hours in London” or wherever. We won’t be able to give any recommendations and certainly won’t be able to quote a price without having some idea of your needs.

2   Expect a potential photographer to ask questions about the venue, the number of guests,the type of function and even if guests are bringing partners or whether the event is themed. If they don’t then something is very wrong. Good communication between photographers and organisers prior to the event is essential to both parties.

Awards event photography London
Kate Blanchett BAFTA awards ceremony London

3   What is your budget?

Again you need to have an idea of your budget and as in point 1 exactly what is required as the cost will be dependent on many factors such as do you need on site photo printing by another team member. Make sure you understand all costs involved to avoid unpleasant surprises later. Ask us for a bespoke quote it may be less than you imagined.

4   Are your prospective photographers event specialists ?

Event photography although it is very wide ranging and varied requires specialist skills ,some of which can only be gained by experience. Study the website and portfolio of a business to check they have a track record and relevant experience.

5   Is the business insured and certified for health and saftey requirements?

It may seem like a small box ticking exercise but there have been many occasions of late where photographers have turned up at an event only to be denied access by the venue management because of missing paperwork. Imagine that scenario in front of clients or guests or worse an important guest tripping over a light stand and injuring themselves. Who would you prefer them to sue, you or us ? Smartpicsuk® is insured for public liability claims up to £5 million ( more by prior arrangement) and we meet all health and safety regulations.

6   Do you wish your pictures to be distributed to the press or archived for future use ?

Many events need pictures to be sent out to the press or social media live from the event and you will need to ensure you have copyright and licensing rights included in your quote. Also ensure you will  have archived copies of your photographs to use in the future for instance publicity or marketing materiel for next years conference or show. It’s no good when you urgently need pictures and they are all on a USB stick or disk you have mislaid or discarded. All Smartpicsuk® commissions are archived on secure servers for a number of years.

These are just a few of the essentials you need to consider before booking and there will be many more. Get in touch now to ask questions and discuss how Smartpicsuk® can deliver the services you need.

 

What is a pop up studio and how will it boost your event?

A pop-up or portable studio along with photo booths are now an essential addition to all high-end events and promotions.

From corporate parties and team building, trade & award events, consumer promotions or brand activations and large fundraising events.

Often compared and often mistaken for a photo booth the  pop up studio offers a studio environment with associated lighting where a professional photographer will direct participants into the most flattering pose for the best looking images.

Awards photography featuring pop up studio
Corporate awards night with pop up studio

The studio is often used in conjunction with instant onsite photographic printing which can be branded with client or sponsor logos and artwork.

As well as walking away with a high-quality photograph guests can also share the photographs online keeping your brand in front of potential clients.

Consumer activation photography Bluewater Shopping Centre
Consumer promotion photography with Greenscreen and instant printing Bluewater Shopping Centre

 

Team building and other corporate & incentive events are becoming more and more popular even in these budget stretched times. A high-quality photograph  will remain long after the food and drinks are cleared away.

Team building photography
Team building event photography.
Making tomorrow’s memories today.

Get in touch today to find out how Smartpicsuk photographers can  help promote your brand or cause by making tomorrow’s memories today.

Fundraising photography
Fundraising event photography with pop up studio and onsite printing

 

 

From The Stig to a Rolling Stones gig, I can get satisfaction!

Another busy month with a variety of commissions from a trade show an international conference and even a Rolling Stones gig.

The Rolling Stones live onstage at Hyde Park
The Rolling Stones live onstage at Hyde Park

We had the chance to photograph The Stig for one of our clients after persuading him to road test a mobility scooter on an obstacle course set up at The International Center in Telford for the Mobility Roadshow. The marketing director was very pleased with this coup and after the pictures were taken even encouraged a little competition between The Stig and myself, having never driven a mobility scooter myself The Stig naturally won.

London’s famous Dorchester hotel was the setting for The Global Citizen Forum London event. Set up by Forbes list billionaire Dr B K Modi the Singapore based oorganisation bought together experts in business, economics and human rights and attracted politicians and business tycoons such as Lakshmi Mittal and the Hinduja brothers.

As for being a global citizen myself I did a count on how many countries I have worked in on photographic assignments and was astounded that it came to 37 and that does not cover passport stamps from Australia to Mexico for holidays. I am very grateful to be in a career I love so much and have the privilege of visiting so many cities and countries.

Dr B K Modi at Global Citizen Forum London
Dr B K Modi at Global Citizen Forum London

Another commission was across Park Lane to cover The Rolling Stones in Hyde Park. After hours of preparation I finally got the chance to photograph probably the biggest and best known rock band in the world. I was only allowed to photograph the first two numbers and was then escorted backstage and out. In those first two songs I managed to shoot over 400 pictures that I had to edit and send 20 pics of different shapes to meet the Sunday Times  deadline for who I was working. After completing this task in record time I was given a cold beer and allowed back out to the Barclaycard VIP area at the front of the stage minus my camera equipment that had to be left backstage as a condition of re entry.

It doesn’t get much better than that and unlike Mick Jagger and the boys I did get a lot of satisfaction.

Corporate, Charity and Private Event Photography in London, and the UK