buy photo booth

Don’t buy a photo booth until you read this!

In Marketing & Business by Chris75 Comments

buy photo boothYou’ve validated that there is a market for buying a photo booth and serving your local area.  However, before you buy a photo booth, there are some realities that you should know about the unique industry you are about to get yourself into. In this article we’ll provide some follow up points from the Four Hard Truths article by Rick Brewer. It’s on point!

Here are my thoughts on these 4 points:

1.  Never before, rarely again clientele. Most photo booth gigs, whether a wedding or birthday party, are one and done, never to be hired by the customer again.  However, this is also the exact reason that people rent anything and that this business exists.  People rent things that they rarely use or only need once and doesn’t make financial sense to purchase.  Even at our most expensive rental, $1500, the cost is considerably less than the customer purchasing one of their own.  The other benefit to not having reoccurring customers is that they are willing to pay a premium.  Engaged couples especially, are often of the mindset that “we are only getting married once, let’s spare no expense and splurge.”  The average wedding cost is about $30,000 and I’m fine with taking a small piece of that pie.  The photo booth has become a “must have” for weddings, proms and Sweet 16s, at least in my market.

The photo booth business is a bit unique in that you can have repeat customers, it is not impossible. Several of our customers are schools and every year we are hired for their prom, graduation or formal dance.  We also have a local college that hires us 3-4 times a year for various student events.  There are non-profit organizations that hire us every year for their fundraiser dinners.  There are businesses that hire us every year for a holiday party or employee appreciation night.  There are customers who hire us for their annual Halloween, Christmas or New Year’s party.  I’m waiting for a customer who hires us for their Sweet 16, engagement party, wedding and then children’s birthday, I’m sure it’s inevitable.

2.  Low/no value competitors. Brewer is correct here, the bar to getting into the wedding business has never been lower.  Fortunately for us in the photo booth business there is somewhat of a barrier to entry (although the bar continues to get lower), that being the cost of the photo booth.  If you are going to get into this business, you need to treat it like one, and not like a hobby.  That doesn’t mean you need to quit your day job, but it’s about your mindset.  Run your business with professionalism and excellence, like you don’t have a day job and this is your livelihood.  We regularly get calls from people who want to haggle on price because they found a 4 hour rental for $300 on Groupon.  These companies would be lucky to break even at those kind of prices, and likely aren’t paying taxes or insurance.  Don’t participate in the race to the bottom on pricing, but that is a discussion for another blog post.

3.  Many moving parts. There are indeed many moving parts to this business.  Each customer is different, they are hiring you for various types of events and the events are at different venues.  There is a process to the sale, from taking an initial deposit, to keeping in communication about photo strip design, backdrops, scrapbooks, etc.  You’ll be dealing with customers, event planners, and venue managers.  This is not a business where you can just deal with a single customer.  Furthermore you’ve got to make sure you always have enough supplies on hand (paper/ink, USB drives, scrapbooks, backups, props).

4.  High maintenance business. There are some high maintenance customers in every type of business.  We have found that the customers we acquire at a higher price point are much easier to handle.  When you start competing in that lower price range the customers can be much more high maintenance.  Again we’ll cover pricing strategy soon!

I’m a proponent of test-driving an idea before I make an investment of time or money.  Before I started a career in law enforcement I interned a few summers at a police station and even did a ride-along with the NYPD.  I wanted to be sure that a career in law enforcement was what I thought it was.  I would encourage you before buying a photo booth to ask a rental company outside of your market (that you won’t be in competition with) if you could help assist them at a gig or two. First, figure out if the event or photo booth industry fits you and your personality.

Lastly, are you prepared to be away from home on many weekends, getting home in the early hours of the morning? Is your spouse or significant other alright with this type of business? Are you prepared to schlep a photo booth and all the equipment in and out of your car many times over? Are you ready to deal with that one kid who wants to take 500 photos by themselves and mom and dad are using your photo booth as a babysitter? How about everyone who treats your prop table like it was their dresser at home.  Perhaps you are thinking, I’ll just hire someone to work the events.  Absolutely hire someone, but for the first 6 months, I would recommend working the events yourself.  This way you get to know your photo booth setup and work out all the kinks.  Plus you’ll find out the way your local venues want you to enter their building and all of this information can then be passed on to a future employee.

If you’re ready to buy a photo booth and get started on your journey check out The Ultimate Guide: How To Start A Photo Booth Business.

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Comments

    1. Than you so much. Great article for a starter like me. Im pretty sure I can handle those downsides. Thank you for sharing your experiences. I will keep these in mind.

  1. Is there a particular company you would recommend purchasing your photobooth from?

    1. Author

      Tiffany, there are a lot of great photo booth companies out there. There are a few listed on my Resources page. Would you be looking for an open or enclosed booth? I hope to put together a photo booth buyer’s guide soon.

  2. I am a photo booth owner that is in my first year of business. I’ve done a few events but am currently working on getting our name out there.I really like the article I just read on your site and look forward to future postings.

  3. Please send all information to my email. I’m just getting started but want to do this business full time. Would love to visit in person.

  4. I hope to be up and running in a month with my Photo Booth new business. I have enjoyed reading your articles……thank you!!!
    I will have a website and official business e-mail soon!!! But for now I’ll use this one…….

  5. I am interested in owning a Photo Booth. Please call me and send me the information on the cost of the both

    1. Author

      Michelle, I don’t sell photo booths. There are many different manufacturers, Google is your friend!

  6. Hi I want to know more about this photoboot business
    thanks

  7. Very interested need a starting point in getting into this business

  8. Chris, great article as usual. It’d be awesome to see a refresh of this topic with a look into the new trend of iPad based photo booths that are taking the market by storm.

  9. I’m looking into a photo booth business for my 14 year old daughter & myself. We homeschool & want to teach her to be an entrepreneur. This business seems to have many options. Some of my questions are… 1) Do you recommend buying a premade photo booth or making your own? 2) Can they be outside long term? (We don’t have covered storage at our home) 3) Are they always only for special events or can they be at a set location?

    1. Author

      Aime, we also homeschool! I do recommend buying a manufactured booth, you’ll get started so much faster. I would say they cannot be outside long term, as the electronics and printers are sensitive to temperature. They can definitely be set at a location, long term, if you can sell it!

  10. What if I want to do the photos without a booth and have one of those background things?

    1. Author

      Tiffany, I would say the whole point of a customer renting the booth is because they don’t have one of their own. When you start getting into just a regular camera and a homemade background, that is something the customer could also DIY, so why hire you?

  11. Hi, love your article, is there a cheaper and good looking booth similar to the photo booth supply co. products?

    1. Author

      Mo, there’s quite a few photo booth manufacturers out there. Join the photo booth related Facebook groups and you’ll see what they are all about.

  12. How would you recommend to start this business? I am looking to start this on my own but I don’t know where to begin.

    1. Author

      Vivian, you’ve got to do some research and validate that a photo booth is going to sell well in your market.

  13. I made my own booth and started it as a hobby. But now its turned into a real business while I’m in medical school. Ive been experimenting with different programs that run the booth but i can’t find one that is easy to use! You have great suggestions. What software would you recommend?

    1. Author

      What type of booth did you make? I am using Darkroom Booth, but there are other great software out there as well.

  14. Hi Chris thanks for all the helpful info. Is it practical to build your own photobooth?
    I’m just starting my business and I’m grateful for all the useful tips…keep them coming

    1. Author

      You’re welcome Michelle. Unless you are particularly handy, I wouldn’t recommend a DIY photo booth build. There are plenty of used photo booths for sale out there at a decent price. Join the photo booth classified type Facebook groups.

  15. Thank you for such a good information to start a photo booth business! It”s awesome

  16. Hello!
    My boyfriend and i are very interested in starting our own photobooth business. We need advise i guess more info on how to go about it. We found a company by the name of photobooth international since we are in the richardson area to buy the booth from but wanted to get more tips. I tried to ask them if they could let us tag along one day for just an hour to i guess get a field of what it entitles to see if we really do want to do it but so far no response. Please email me and cc my boyfriend valdes972@yahoo.com since we are both really wanting to get help

    Best regards and hope to hear from you really soon!
    Jennifer Corral
    972-510-4677
    jcorral9128@gmail.com

  17. Getting started and would like helpful information on all aspects of owning my photo booth. Thanks

  18. Looking to start a photo booth business. I was looking into the mirror me photo booth for 7,000. What is the maintenance in photo booths & how much should i charge starting out as there are no photo booth rentals in my area

  19. I currently have a manually run open air photo booth, would love to purchase the real deal. I look forward to receiving your articles. Thank you.

    I look forward to receiving your articles.

  20. I just bought a magic mirror photobooth and waiting delivery. I’m running a non profit business right not and bought the booth to generate income for the business. This will be my marketing plan, I live in Cali, so I suspect a great market. There are very little photobooth businesses here. Do you have suggestions on pricing, anyone interested in pricing send me an email as I bought my booth from China for a great price…. info @the-lords-closet.org

    1. Author

      Nice Carla! Pricing is a very local strategy. You’ll have to research your area and see what prices are to be competitive.

    2. Hi Carla how is your mirror business doing, since you purchased it? I noticed you bought your’s from China how is it holding up? I’m interested in purchasing one but I’m not sure who to buy one from, do you have a link?

  21. I used to work in a photobooth job. Now I’m planning to start my own! Please message me on my email I need extra tips

  22. Hi Guys,
    Please i am interested to start a photo-booth business but i don’t know what the financial commitments are e.g after buying the equipment that’s cost nearly $9000, where do you go from there, how do you calculate your financial projects, cost , maintenance fees to enable you see what the future possibilities are and so on. Any help and direction will be great
    Yem

  23. I’m highly intrigued. I used to do photography and I’m looking for a home based business. Full time! I’m in a very large market. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read from you so far and have signed up for your newsletter. Bam! Ball. Rolling.

  24. Hi, I’m a New photo booth owner. We purchased a dark room photo booth with all the latest equipment. Trying to set up my website for the first time. Who should I go with?

  25. Love the article, I can surely relate to nearly every single word. Before diving in know your local market and be different.

  26. I am straddling the fence as I would need the entire setup to get started, which runs around $3K. Do you also have to register your business name? I am trying to assess the cost-benefit or ROI. It is tough because I am not positive about the market in my area either. As you stated…Lots of moving parts!! Thank you for all the information you shared. This is very helpful. 😊

    1. Author

      Thanks for the comment Julia. You do also need to register your business name, which depending on which structure (DBA or LLC) and your location, it could range from $30- hundreds.

  27. Loved the article and would like to see more. I generally photograph small events and parties as a side job and I believe the photo booth business would be a great addition.

  28. I recently purchased a photobooth and starting to tap into the market. Any suggestions or ideas when it comes to pricing and packages. I’m in the Pittsburgh area which seems to have the market .my booth is MOJO by the way , so far s o good. Have you ever attended the Photobooth expo in las vegas Ive been thinking of attending .

    Thanks for your time in advance ,

    Misty

    1. Author

      Congrats on getting into the business Misty! I haven’t been to the expo but would love to attend someday.

  29. Getting ready to start my photo booth business just need all the info thank love your site

  30. Hi,
    I’m very interested in learning about the industry. Thanks

  31. I’m interested in learning more about this business. Please add me to your list. I look forward to reading more of your articles.

    Sincerely, Robin

  32. Amazing information, really truly helped. Thank You!
    Do you have any recommendations on printers?

  33. Hi Chris!
    Thank you for all the support you’re landing here .
    I’ve decided to purchase the mirror me photo booth from another company besides the manufacturer.
    I found for the price that they’re charging there is very little training and support.
    Can you recommend a company who helps with marketing and website design for photo booths
    Thank you kindly !

    1. Author

      Hi Carrie – Awesome! I’ve heard great things about the Mirror Me booth. We’re revamping things on our end to provide more resources to help train photo booth owners. Take a look at our resource page. We offer our favorite suggestions for getting a website up and running. If you have other questions along the way don’t hesitate to email me directly at hello@photogboothtraining.com

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