Whatever we think about them, photo booths have become a staple part of the event landscape over recent years. From the perspective of clients, they are the ‘must-have’ extra for their wedding or party to add an element of fun and provide a collection of lasting memories in the form of amusing photos of all the gathered guests. Of course from our perspective as DJs, they can prove yet another distraction from the dancefloor, especially if located in another part of the venue.
Just as with mobile discos, photo booths come in various flavours and at a range of prices as well as levels of quality. I’ve always tried to steer my customers away from the conventional closed in booths, as guests disappearing behind a velour curtain is not the most sociable of activities! On the other hand, the ones I feel work best are of the open variety, especially the ones that are themed and look fantastic. I always recommend to my clients that any booth is situated as near to the dancefloor as possible, as this results in good cross-over between the two services - great music near the booth, and a few props ending up as the star attractions on the dancefloor!
However, the best photo booth scenario, in my opinion, is my ‘Tomfoolery Box’. This is a concept that I have developed over the last couple of years and fine-tuned into a unique service, which my customers absolutely love. It is the ultimate synergy between a mobile disco and photo booth; it draws guests in, helps to create a party atmosphere and ultimately transforms the dancefloor into one big photo booth!
The Tomfoolery Box
At a predesignated time (worked out by the party host and myself), a mysterious flight case is carried by two volunteers to the very centre of the dancefloor. There it is left for all to marvel at and speculate about (the contents, at this stage, are only known to the organisers and myself). My box has been pimped to look like it’s been delivered straight out of Jurassic Park! It sports a dangerous-looking livery with distressed timber effect surfaces, black and yellow warning tape and messages asking guests to ‘keep out’ and ‘stand clear’. The word ‘TOMFOOLERY’ is of course centre-stage on the lid.
This always has the exact opposite effect to what the messages on the box instruct - guests come streaming in from all corners of the venue to investigate this strange box. Now, as the DJ, I have an opportunity to set up some atmosphere and tension and also have a bit of fun with the guests. As the party goers sniff round, touch, sit on and even attempt to open the box, I’ll fire a few ‘tongue-in-cheek’ comments at them from the DJ booth. This sets things up nicely for the bride and groom, or guest of honour, to finally open the box with much anticipation from all concerned. A countdown and a great tune cued ready to rock is a must.
So the lid is lifted and the fun spills out: between 60 and 100 party props are rammed into the box! Some inflatables are already blown up ready to fly out upon opening, others are ready to be inflated by the guests. I include everything from the standard guitars, saxes and mics to bananas, crutches, boom boxes, barbells and tommy guns… all inflatable! There’s also plenty of crazy headwear, from animal (elephant, monkey and piranha) to traffic cone and Where’s Wally hats! I also usually include the full Village People head gear collection - helmets and caps - along with amazing wigs, a great selection of huge glasses and plenty of noise-making instruments.
Fixing a GoPro camera inside the box, underneath the props, provides a spectacular angle to film as guests unleash their inner party animal. Whether they want to channel their inner guitar hero or embrace the Blues Brother within, they’ve got all party props they need to take a party to the next level.
And the best bit? The guests can keep the lot! Doing this really makes it so easy to sell to clients: you’re supplying brand new, mint condition props to them, so they are buying something tangible. (I dread to think how many greasy heads have sported the captain’s hats that live in some of the photo booth prop boxes recycled and reused week after week!) Letting guests keep the props also results in a memorable post-party exodus as they stagger home in full ‘tomfoolery mode’.
I charge between £150 and £200 for this service, which clients always see as good value for money. If the budget is tight I also offer a ‘half box’ for £75 to £100. As I buy props in bulk at trade prices, I can achieve a good mark up at these rates and the clients still get very good value for money. But, as you may have guessed, they don’t get to keep the flight case!
I select the props I provide very carefully. They have to be the sort of items that not only have people in stitches, but that lead to great photos and, most importantly, interactivity with the music and atmosphere of the party. It’s pretty obvious that if there’s a builder’s hat, red Indian headdress, police cap, army cap and a leather biker’s cap in the box, then playing the YMCA is fully justified!
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 77, Pages 40 - 44.