The largest architecture and design firm in the nation hired me to set up a vignette for their holiday party. They didn’t want it to be like any other photo booth and they hired exactly the right person for this. Their party theme was a masquerade with Russian like ballerina performances and luxurious decor, so I wanted to get them photos lit artistically to feel like these were images taken right after the oscars. Just for fun below are examples of some of our favorites and we thought it would be fun to showcase them in their own unofficial awards with HR’s approval of course.
Don’t knock on photo booths.
There is an art to photographing 500+ people at a photo booth. For 3.5 hours the line never died down. In fact, the photo booth actually became a big hit. Our set up was down stairs, but it didn’t stop the line from forming across the entire room and out the door.. Our line never stopped even after the party well ended after midnight! We would hear people in line saying things like “Is it really worth the wait like everyone says?”
Besides, having an upbeat personality there is an art to the photo booth photographing a mass of people on the same set. Here are a few tips I have for you to run smoothly.
1. Make the Set Comfortable
When I originally walked into the venue earlier in the day they had a couch pre-selected for the vignette. While there was nothing wrong with their couch I was able to convince the coordinator to consider swapping it out with this purple tufted velvet couch I came across. Honestly, this is what was going to make or break the photo. The original chair felt a little stale, like someone waiting in the dentist’s office. I chose the purple couch because of its shape. It was in a form where I knew it would allow me to have endless possibilities of how to pose people. My goal was to make every person’s portraits their own. With the new couch, it was more comfortable for people to lay across, sit on different levels, and it handles large groups well. The environment is just as important to welcome the subject matter and feel more comfortable to sit on because that determines a person’s demeanor.
2. Match Their Mood
One of the things I pride myself in is being able to read people quickly. I’ve gotta pop out a variety of unique poses for every person or couple within a couple of minutes. I always like see how they greet me first. I get an idea of their personality and what they may be up for. If someone is shy then I am lighter in my approach. If someone is more obnoxious, I match them. When you are constantly meeting a lot of new people, you start to gather all of these patterns of how people are and you know how to deal with each personality or mood.
3. Give Broad, but Specific Directions
I find that the thing people love most during the photo booth is that I am able to give them directions. I hear people in line saying “Don’t worry! The photographer will give you directions and tell you what to do.” When people are put on the spot they have no idea how to pose or what to even do!
I start with broad directions like – hop on into the set and I will watch and see how some people will naturally sit or stand with their partner. I always try to keep someone’s natural stance and then tweak a couple of things. But just like in interviews, you leave room for the subject to be themselves and their best poses will reveal itself. Any other times, I ask them what they’re up for and the more adventurous ones will fancy my ideas such as sitting upside down or giving me a split!
4. Understand Insecurities
As a photographer, people immediately reveal what they are insecure about themselves. Most of the time it is pretty general. You start to figure out what makes people look good, by sticking their chin out, not slouching, angling them a certain way that makes their jawlines more clear. There’s some people who are not comfortable sitting because it gets tight around their stomach. (I get it, because that’s totally me.) So when I observe the way their clothes are worn you can tell what they are trying to hide. When I get heavier set of people I know they would rather stand. Standing behind the couch was another trick. As photographers you have different tricks up your sleeves to hide these insecurities and accentuate their best features.
5. Men Want to Look Strong, Women Want to Look Sexy
A friend told me that once and it makes total sense. So when I photograph people I keep that in mind. I put them into the appropriate poses that would read exactly that. Sometimes couples get so excited to see the photos because their boyfriend or husband looks more dominant than usual. I help mold my subject matters into these poses, but still being themselves, they are always so surprised to see how “good they look”. I like when my subject matter walks away and feel a boost of confidence in who they are.
Part of the beauty of a vignette or photo booth is that the set may look the same, but it’s the people who are the souls of the images and gives the images more meaning. I love that challenge of being able to mix it up. Whether it’s from my crazy pose suggestions, accentuating a cool fashion item they’re wearing. If they have a big poofy dress then show it off!
6. Let Them See Themselves
I tether my camera to an ipad where my subject matters can see themselves instantly. I like to show them how they look during their first couple of shots because that gives them a better idea of what their body language looks like. And a chance to fix little things here and there that are important to them. I know very single person who walks away is always happy being apart of the collaboration.
Please contact me if you are interested in having a photo booth at your next event.
BEST WITH MASK ON AND OFF
MOST TIMELESS (tie)
BEST STANCE (female)
BEST STANCE (male)
BEST DOUBLE DATES
BEST TRIPLE DATES
BEST THIRD WHEELER
BEST POSES (tie)
BEST BLACK ON BLACK (tie)
BEST WHITE ON WHITE
MOST ROMANTIC (tie)
MOST VANITY FAIR-ESQUE
MOST UNIQUE POSE
MOST INTERESTING POSE
BEST JUMPSUITS (tie)
MOST LIKELY TO ATTEND THE OSCARS (tie)
MOST LIKELY TO BECOME A SUPER HERO
BEST GROUP PHOTOS (tie)
(See what I did there?)
MOST LIKELY TO BE IN A BOY BAND
MOST LIKELY TO BE SECRET AGENTS
BEST OF GIRLFRIENDS (tie)
AND FINALLY BEST PHOTOGRAPHERS.