At HootBooth® Photo Booth, we find that many of our customers are new to the event rental business so we wanted to provide a helpful overview of how to start renting out photo booths as a side hustle or full time event rental business. Photo booths are popular and they are in most parties and events today including weddings, bar mitzvahs, festivals and even corporate events. Photo Booths are so popular that it is now possible to ditch that office or retail job and make incredible money doing something that is fun and that requires less than $7,000 to start your own photo booth rental business - even as a side gig.
Just as with any business, there are many facets to learn and the best way to build a successful business is to start with a business plan. This will be your “roadmap” to the business direction, opportunities and overall business scope. Your plan should include business goals and targets so that you are working toward a measured baseline.
The basics to starting a photo booth business can be divided into four parts:
1. The photo booth itself (the hardware and software you will need to buy)
2. The photo booth business model (wholly owned by you or franchise models)
2. The photo booth customer - your target clients
3. The photo booth market and pricing
The Hardware - Photo booths are made up of a camera, a light source, a touchscreen display, a PC or tablet, photo booth software a light source and a dye-sublimation photo printer (unless you are purchasing a 'social media photo booth' which we will cover later.) A photo booth requires each component to seamlessly work together. There are two (2) categories of photo booths in the market today - iPad Photo Booths and DSLR photo booths. Both types of photo booths are great options - it just depends which features are most important to you.
For example, the HootBooth® DSLR EventPRO photo booths, our exclusive line of DSLR photo booths, include a professional Canon camera (24MP), a professional ring light flash, an optional integrated printer and advanced photo features such as super fast photo prints, video, SloMo (slow motion video), animated green screen, social media sharing and more. DSLR-based photo booths are packed with advanced features and technology; thus, they are more expensive than iPad Photo Booths.
The HootBooth® ILLUMIN8 photo booths are our line of photo booths that specialize in social media sharing. You may hear this type of photo booth referred to as a 'social media photo booth'. This line of photo booth's utilize the Apple iPad's integrated camera, computing power and touch screen display. Because of this, they are lower in cost than 'DSLR photo booths.' Our line of ILLUMIN8 photo booths include a tablet mount for the iPad, a professional dimmable ring lights and our innovative photo booth software. Our software produces super cool photo features including animated GIFs, Boomerang photos, Burst photos and single shot photos that can include face-tracking and face-altering filters and digital props. The photos can be shared on all social media platforms including Instagram and Snapchat!
The Business Model - Some photo booth manufacturers supply the photo booth hardware as part of your franchise start-up cost. Be wary of these - you will pay a lot of money up front and an ongoing portion of your revenue with the photo booth company. The other option is to buy a HootBooth® photo booth that does not require any franchise fees - just buy the photo booth and you never have to share your hard-earned revenue with anyone else. And with the average photo booth gig netting between $800-$1000 per event, your HootBooth® Photo Booth can be payed between 2 - 7 events.
The Photo Booth Target Customer - The photo booth customer who is interested in renting a photo booth can be found any number of ways. Photo booths are popular at most any event or party such as weddings, bar mitzvahs, parties and even commercial events such as trade shows and festivals! Getting your name out as a new business is super important. You'll want to get your website launched as soon as possible so customers can start finding you in Google search. Your website should have photos of customers using your photo booth and provide examples of what photo booth features you offer. You can usually charge extra for advanced features such as SloMo, video, photo printing and green screen. In our experience, it's really important that you list your pricing on your website. Clients today value transparency plus the easier you make it for client's, the better your chances of gaining new customers you will have. Also, make sure that your customers can contact you in various ways, such as Facebook messenger, your phone number and email address. You'll also want to establish a social media presence on Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms. Finally, since weddings and corporate events are such an important ongoing referral base for photo booth gigs, the best way to get a constant stream of business is to network with wedding coordinators and corporate event planners in your geographic area. There are many national event professional organizations with local chapters including ILEA, International Live Event Association and NACE, National Association for Catering and Events.
The Photo Booth Pricing - The average continental US photo booth gig for a 3-4 hour event is between $800-$1,000 but this does vary some by region so be sure to do some research of local competitors to get a good understanding of the prices you will need to charge. It’s a good idea to be priced competitively, but undercutting pricing is not the best business practice for a sustainable, profitable business. Remember, there are hard costs and they should be outlined in your business plan. Those hard costs go beyond the cost of the hardware and prints supplies. There is the photo booth attendant (this may be the owner at first), gas, website hosting fees and credit card fees which all add up. You'll also need to invest in good backdrop and photo booth props. We'll give you a good tip: The best time of year to buy photo booth props is the week after Halloween. You can get a year's supply of awesome props by going to Halloween Pop-Up stores and party stores, such as your local Party City.
Remember that people who throw parties love photo booths and there is plenty of business for new photo booth companies. In closing, it is super helpful to have good relationships with wedding venues and party planners. Business referrals will go a long way.