A great photo booth can make your event: giving people an excuse to interact, bringing out people’s silly sides and creating memories you can take home in the process. But to get one, you have to make a lot of decisions. Indoor or outdoor? Backdrop? Props?
To make those decisions easier, we spoke to Top Pro Patricia Nguyen, whose SF-based photo booth rental business Just the Little Things has been hired more than 120 times on Thumbtack.
Pay Attention to Long Reviews
“You should look at reviews and root through to make sure they’re lengthy. I’m always skeptical when I see a review that’s only two or three words, like ‘good job.’ On the internet you have to be careful about what is and isn’t real,” says Patricia.
Pay attention to more than just the top line stats, she cautions. “What customers say in reviews can be really helpful for shaping your own ideas about what you want for your event. And when you see those long reviews, you can tell someone put time into it and they’re probably real.”
Not All Photo Booths Are Made Equal, So Study up
“As soon as you decide you want a photo booth at your party, look into the different kinds of setups so you know what works for you,” says Patricia.
For example, a studio booth with huge lights and a screen might be good if your party is indoors and you have a lot of space to work with. Those will require more work though, and an operator to switch out lenses and position guests.
Then there are less complex setups with iPad stands and backdrops. These tend to be more compact and self-serve, and because there are no screens or flashes, they’re great for outdoor and kids events.
How do you know which is right? “It really just depends on the kind of environment you’re looking to create,” Patricia explains.
Patricia Nguyen owner of Just the Little Things photo booth rentals in San Francisco.
Find Your Perfect Props
“It’s all about customization. I have a questionnaire for customers on themes, colors, and general interests. We talk a lot over the phone to find out exactly what they want,” says Patricia, who has over 10 tubs of vintage and handmade props for customers to choose from.
Wonder what’s trending? “A lot of people use paper props like signs and badges because they take up less space. But classic props really never go out of style, everything from hats and glasses, to tiaras and ties. They’re cheesy but that’s sort of the point of the photo booth—something fun and unexpected.”
Don’t Be Fooled by Instagram
“Make sure your pro has a full portfolio on their website and not just a few photos,” Patricia warns. “There are photo booth operators out there who don’t use their own photos on their website. When you get the pictures from the day of and they look nothing like what you’ve been promised, that’s rough. It’s one instance where you really can’t trust Instagram.”
On Thumbtack, check that the pro’s profile is fully completed, down to the Q+A section at the bottom. If you don’t understand their pricing or what’s included in their services, it’s worth sending a message. If after a few messages you still aren’t clear, it might be time to move on to another pro.
When Hiring, Think Ahead
Spring is wedding season and the holidays (November 20th to January 1st) are always crazy, according to Patricia. So if you’re planning to hire a photo booth pro somewhere within those windows, make sure to give yourself a lot of runway.
“I’ve been hired up to six months out from an event,” says Patricia. “It’s never too early to get something down on the calendar and photo booths get booked really quickly these days.”
One Last Super Pro Tip
Most pros focus a lot on the photo booth setup and props, says Patricia. Superstar pros spend just as much time working on the finished piece: the photo strip.
“I like to add final touches like borders and filters to my strips on Adobe, and I always try to get them to the guests by the time they get home from the party,” says Patricia. “It’s so exciting to take these pictures with your friends, nobody wants to have to wait a week to see the finished product.”
For more tips on putting on the perfect event, read this advice for throwing a fancy outdoor party using what you already have around the house.