Before I forget, and the whole birthday whirlwind is long past, here's a little tutorial we put together on building your own photo booth in the back garden. I looked and looked and couldn't find any instructions online, so we made it up as we went along.
It cost us $4.86 -- most of the materials are normal household things that could be repurposed (and then returned to their old uses afterwards). You need absolutely no sewing or woodworking skills to do this, just the ability to hammer a nail and tie a knot.
Here's what you'll need:
- one twin-size duvet cover or flat sheet (ours is the IKEA Vitaminer Vimpel)
- at least four clothes pegs
- string and scissors
- hammer and nails
- two long thin pieces of wood, at least 7ft tall (ours are from Lowes, 8ft, $2.43 each)
- a fence
We laid each of the wooden planks on the ground, measured 85" along, and marked that spot.
On both planks, we hammered a small nail into the wood at the 85" mark, in the centre. This nail goes on the backside of the photo booth, and not visible (except to your neighbours and their golden retriever!)
We placed one of our wooden planks where we wanted it along the fence, (remembering to have the nail we'd just hammered in facing away from us) and measured along 65", and marked where the second plank needed to be. We checked we liked the positioning...
...and then nailed both planks to the fence. Mmm... gives a new meaning to biting your nails!
This is what it looked like with both planks in place. (And with Justin checking his wingspan)
We knotted one end of the roll of string around one of the 85" high nails on the back of a plank...
...and wrapped the string around the outside of the plank (we figured this would allow our duvet cover to cover the planks, somewhat, when hung). We pulled the string taut, and knotted it around the second nail.
Then, we hung the duvet cover -- bending the fabric over the top of the string, and pegging it in place. We only had four pegs, and luckily that turned out to be enough!
At this point, we discovered that we'd built a giant sail. Whenever a gust of wind hit it, the whole thing flapped and blew. Perfect, if we'd been wanting to turn our fence into a raft. (Michael, Walt, Jin and Sawyer would have been proud). Not so perfect if we wanted decent photos.
The solution: one more piece of string, stretched across the front between the planks, about 2/3 of the way up. Our white string was barely noticeable in front of a white part of the duvet cover, and kept things neatly in place.
Justin grabbed Bella, and we had a few little test shots the night before the party to test out the lighting. I'd recommend thinking about where the sun will be at the time of your party, and planning where to put your photo booth accordingly. I chose to set ours up so that people wouldn't have to look directly into the setting sun when having their photos taken, which resulted in plenty of smiles, rather than pained squints. For the actual party, I upped the exposure compensation on the camera slightly to account for the extra shadows and make our whites sparkly.
With a little table nearby for the props we made (another member of our IKEA family, covered with a tablecloth), and a sign encouraging people to help themselves, it was all ready to go. Ten minutes work for under $5, and we were very happy with the results!
P.S. A round of applause for Justin, the handyman and physical labour for this project, who was happy to pose in his pajamas after a long day of work! The creative director behind the camera was not quite so brave...