Tuesday, July 16, 2013

DIY Photo Booth = Instant Party Fun!

It's no secret that 30 is on its way...

As such, I've seen my husband and many of my friends turn 30 recently. One of my best friends, Sara (we go back since college - over 10 years!), turned 30 over the weekend.

Her husband wanted to throw a party for her, and I volunteered to help. We decided on a fun dinner at the Copper Cellar restaurant in downtown Knoxville, where 20-25 friends and family could join her for dinner, drinks, and fun. She is a new mom, and her 5 month old daughter was able to join us as well!

On a side note, I found this AMAZING dress at Loft to wear to the party! The black and white color was crisp, summery, and modern, and it may be the most flattering dress I've ever owned. For real. I want it in every color. If you need a dress, this is a great one to try. Now. I usually wear anything from an 8 to a 12, and a 10 petite fit great.

Back to the party, we reserved a private room downstairs, and placed a few fun decorations.

I  wanted something custom but didn't have time to order something custom made, so I found this great customized printable banner design on Etsy by StylingtheMoment

While I knew the room was the perfect place for the party and that the food would be great, I wanted to create an activity that would get people out of their chairs and interacting.

So I searched...and searched...

For 30th birthday party activities, you'll find a lot of things like drinking games (not appropriate for this event), or trivia games about the guest of honor or his/her birth year (too structured for this event). Finally, I came across this idea on HGTV for a DIY photo booth! The idea of people getting out of their chairs, wearing silly props, and making goofy poses sounded like a lot of fun! In this age of social media and constant photo sharing, I thought it would resonate with people.

Here's what I used:

  • A camera with flash and a tripod
  • A quiet corner without any distracting lighting
  • A poster board (I used a cardboard poster board 36"x48")
  • An easel or tape/hooks to mount the backdrop (I used a portable adjustable easel so I didn't have to use the wall)
  • Decorations for the poster board. You can decorate it however you want, but I used a roll of wrapping paper and 4 packages of 5 mini paper fans in various colors.
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Double-sided tape
  • Fun props! Masks, boas, tiaras, sunglasses, cat ears, hats, mustaches, signs - you name it! Word to the wise: the key here is quantity, not quality. You may have 6 or more people jumping in a shot together, so you want to have plenty of props. I recommend sticking to props $1-3. Any higher than that, and these silly props can add up in cost quickly! Party City has a great variety of props in this price range. The signs were very inexpensive, as I printed them on card stock using my printer at home.

Here's how I did it:

  • Before the party, create the backdrop:
    • I wrapped one side of the board completely with wrapping paper. It doesn't have to be perfect. I recieved a note on my report card in kindergarten that I don't cut straight. I've never perfected that skill and it didn't impair my success in life.

Cali wanted to "help"

    • Then I folded out the paper fans, and cut off the strings that would usually be used to hang the fans.
    • I used double-sided tape to attach the fans in random places on the board (note - because the fans are 3 dimensional and therefore are difficult to stick to the tape, I pinched part of the fan flat to attach the tape).

  •  The day of the party, set up the backdrop and the camera:
    • Find a place in the room with soft lighting and nothing distracting in the background. I used a corner in the room away from other lights and windows. It was a little dim, but my camera had a strong enough flash to provide enough light.

    • Set the backdrop on an easel or hang on the wall. We eyeballed height, and adjusted the placement so that it could accommodate me (short) and my husband (tall).
    • Set the camera and tripod about 6-8 feet back from the backdrop
    • Test, test, test! It doesn't have to be professional quality, but you'll want focused, well-lit pictures with the backdrop and subject in frame. Take a few shots of the backdrop, ideally with someone standing in front of it. Is it too dark or too bright? If so, adjust the flash or white balance settings on the camera. Is the entire backdrop and subject in frame? If so, adjust the placement of the tripod? Is there any competing light or objects? If so, consider changing locations. It's good to get this out of the way so that when guests arrive, they can jump right into the fun and you know that the shots will be great!

The height was just right for someone short like me!
It wasn't quite tall enough for someone as tall as B, letting us know we needed to adjust it!
    • Make sure that you have a full battery and memory card with a lot of space.
    • Turn on the camera, and invite guests to enjoy! Unfortunately my camera doesn't have this capability, but a remote shutter release would be a great option for people to take pictures on their own. Since we couldn't do this, I, my husband, and another host offered to man the camera.
    • After the party, filter the pictures that turned out well, and share! This can be done on photo sharing sites, via email, a CD, or social media. We chose to share on Facebook. Be sure to check for any pictures that may be less than appropriate. Fortunately, this didn't happen to us. Make sure that the guests are okay with these pictures being shared on social media. We asked the group at the party, and no one had any issue with their picture being shared. Letting the group know ahead of time that these pictures could be shared also serves as a gentle heads-up to guests to stay appropriate (silly is okay!) in their pictures.
The result? It was a hit! The guest of honor loved it and got great shots with her daughter, husband, family, and friends! People got out of their seats and were acting silly and fun!

The birthday girl and family!

B and I showing off our swagger

It was pretty inexpensive, and could be fun and appropriate for guests of all ages. I can imagine kids would have a lot of fun with this activity, too!

Have you planned a 30th (or any age) birthday party? What fun party activities have you tried?


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  1. How cute! I love the DIY idea. Props can make or break it, too :) And yes, that dress is SO cute! I was going to go to LOFT today or this weekend and look for either a cute sun dress or some bermuda shorts. I need something appropriate for a client-facing baseball game! (That would be too hot)

  2. Its really great review to know about this information..Thanks a lot for sharing your post.


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