There’s an image of you kissing your grade 10 sweetheart. And another one of you and your best friend making piggy noses for the camera. There’s even one of you alone, trying to look sophisticated at sixteen. (Look at the hair!)
Photo booth photos. They remind us of our youth. They freeze us in candid moments of silliness or affection. We are nostalgic for them. So nostalgic, that photo booths are no longer relegated to mall corridors and bus stations. They’re in bars and night clubs, and even people’s homes. And now they’re all the rage at weddings.
Vancouver’s Anna Namshirin is one bride that is photo booth-crazy. In fact, one of the highlights of her Big Day was a wedding photo booth.
“I’ve loved photo booths since I was little … My girlfriends and I always used to cram into the booths at the mall and take funny pictures together and I still have all of those shots,” she says. “I was willing to do anything to squeeze one into our wedding budget!”
Namshirin, who got married February 23 in Burnaby, British Columbia, says she wanted a photo booth at her wedding reception not only because it would add an element of fun, but also because she felt it would give her guests a unique wedding experience.
“I knew it was going to be something different,” she says. “I think ultimately most brides want a wedding that is fun and memorable – a photo booth is a fun way to combine both goals.”
Although photo booths at weddings have really taken off in the U.S., they are a fairly new trend in Canada, says Namshirin, who aside from being a new bride herself, works as a “wedding coach” for Ladner, British Columbia based Fairy Godmother Weddings.
“For weddings I think it is a new and exciting thing. Everyone knows what a photo booth is and more than likely everyone has been in one, but to actually be able to bring it to your reception and give your guests something fun to do during cocktail hour or once they’re tired from dancing is something else,” she says.
Photobooth Vancouver, the company Namshirin hired for her wedding, is one business that is capitalizing on the trend. Angela Haugo, a wedding photographer and journalism student, started the company in 2007 when she realized there were no local companies offering photo booth rentals.
“Photo booths have become very popular in the U.S. and brides here were having a hard time finding a local source for photo booths that were within their price range,” she says.
Although some companies rent vintage photo booths, Photobooth Vancouver uses a custom made digital photo booth with high resolution 8 megapixel images.
“This gives the clients the ability to keep digital copies of the pictures forever,” she says, pointing out that both black and white and colour photos are offered.
Because the units are so heavy, the company uses in-house movers to transport the units. Once they are set up, they’re good to go.
“Our booths are built with weddings in mind. They have an elegant design and have a classic black finish. They fit within the decor of most weddings so there really is no need to decorate them,” she says, adding that some couples will place props inside the booth such as hats and feather boas to encourage silliness.
Although her company rents photo booths for bar mitzvahs and corporate parties, weddings make up the bulk of her business.
She says couples generally rent a booth for 4-8 hours depending on the style of their reception and the number of guests. The amount of pictures that can be taken is unlimited. The cost is $300 per hour, which includes an attendant who makes sure everything is running smoothly. (Haugo says she attends many of the weddings herself.)
Once the booth is set up, it is hard to pull the guests away, she says, so she advises couples to rent the booth from the beginning of cocktails through to the end of dancing.
According to Haugo, some guests use the photo booth in lieu of traditional wedding favours.
“The photo is a great favour and will likely be the most remembered favour offered to your guests,” says Haugo.
Wedding couples receive a copy of all of the photo booth photos on CD-ROM. They also have the option of creating a custom guest book. (If couples choose this option, a guestbook attendant helps guests assemble the book.)
Haugo says many couples tell her the photo booth is the hit of the reception.
“Guests love the photo booth. It is a great way to break the ice and get people mixing and laughing. It really is the hit of the party,” she says.
Calgary’s The Photobooth Co. is another Canadian company that’s in on the trend. The company, which began in September 2007, will be entering its first wedding season this summer – and it’s already booked solid for July and August.
Owner Robin Audenart says her company is the first in Canada to use a Model 12 photo booth – a type of photo booth that is gaining popularity in the U.S.
Although the Model 12 has the feel of a vintage photo booth, the photos are digital.
“It’s a lot cooler than the photo booths you see at the mall,” says Audenart. “But if you like the vintage look, you can get that by choosing to print in black and white.”
Currently, there are 25 photo booth companies in the U.S that use the Model 12. (Photo booth companies purchase the Model 12 exclusively through San Francisco based Photoworks Interactive, the developer of the product.)
Audenart, who charges $1,500 for four hours of manned photo booth rental with unlimited photos, says there are still plenty of Canadian brides who are completely unaware of the photo booth trend.
“Getting the idea out there is the big thing. You have to use it to see how fun it is. People really get excited about them. You go behind a curtain and no one sees you and suddenly you can be whoever you want to be,” she says.
What was the reaction at Namshirin’s wedding?
“Everyone loved the photo booth … Many people probably hadn’t been in one in a long time but no one forgets how much fun they are and how they put you in a relaxed but silly mood,” she says. “Smile for one picture, tongue out for another picture, eyes crossed and finally back to a laugh for the last shot.”
Photo: Anne Ruthmann Photography