How to Start a Photo Booth Business With Your Kids
Want to teach your kids the value of hard work and the basics of running a business?
Start a photo booth business with your kids!
In this article we’ll show you how to start a photo booth business with your kids.
It doesn’t matter whether you make any money. The point is to do something different and have fun!
Why a Photo Booth?
Starting and running a business helps develop communication and math skills, and encourage creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. What’s more fun than taking silly pictures of yourself? Taking silly pictures of others and making someone’s day!
A photo booth is more than just a fun family project. It will also help you teach business and life skills to your kids and encourage conversations with the neighbors and each other.
With a photo booth, there’s lots of room to be creative with costumes, props and locations and have lots of contagious fun with a camera. You don’t need anything fancy. A point-and-shoot or a camera phone will work just fine.
Plus, you can earn a little money for a family treat or to donate to a good cause.
The concept goes like this: grab your kids, a camera and some simple costumes and props. Then find (or create) a place where people would stop for a picture. Charge them $1 to email a photo, $2 to email a photo strip and $3 to mail them a print.
Note: These prices are just suggestions. Do what you think is best for your neighborhood. If you plan to donate the profits to a cause, you can charge a little more. Just let your customers know.
Business opportunities for kids have changed a lot over the years. Today’s entrepreneurial kids have a lot more choices than delivering newspapers, mowing lawns or setting up a lemonade stand. This adventure blows those ideas out of the water!
Start with a family meeting. Discuss the photo booth idea with your kids. If they’re game, go for it!
Ready? Say “Cheese…”
You can start with a simple photo booth and a few props in your driveway or front yard. Then get more elaborate each time you try it.
#1: Create Backdrop, Costumes and Props
Take as little or as much time as you want to make “accessories” for your photo booth.
For a basic backdrop, use a simple sheet draped over a fence, a branch or even your car.
If you want a more professional look that can be used anywhere, make a photo backdrop frame from PVC pipe and use large clamps to connect a sheet or blanket, colorful themed fabric or even wrapping paper to the backdrop frame.
You can have your kids paint or draw backgrounds on large rolls of art paper or connect several poster boards to create custom backdrops. You can also decorate the inside of a refrigerator box.
For costumes, gather old dress-up clothes, funny hats and wigs, costume jewelry, silly sunglasses, etc… Don’t go overboard the first time you do your photo booth. Just put together a nice assortment of things that people can put on over their clothes. Note: You can always build on the number of costumes each time you set up shop.
Also, come up with some kooky handmade accessories.
Start with white cardboard. Note: You can also hit up your recycle bin for cardboard or paper that you can glue to a thick background, like an old cereal box.
Draw hats, mustaches, glasses and animal noses on the paper, then color them in and cut them out. Fasten these to skewers with tape so that people can hold them up to their faces.
There’s no need for your costumes to be complicated. Just make them unique, so when people get the pictures of themselves, they remember what a fun time they had at your photo booth!
For props, take large toys, beach balls or anything that you think would add extra oomph to the photos. This is especially important if you want to give your photo booth a theme.
For extra fun, try different themes. Come up with a list of ideas, search topics online and see what you can put together.
- Oldies—Make sure to have poodle skirts for girls, t-shirts and leather jackets for the boys. Play 50s music in the background.
- Superhero—Make masks and use fabric for capes. Print out words like “Pow!” and “Bam!” in a fun font and glue to skewers.
- Animal Farm—Make silly animal hats. Don’t forget to paint a custom backdrop for this one: blue sky, green grass and maybe a silo or farm in the background.
#2: Pick a Place and Time
Keep your first photo booth really simple and see what kind of response you get from your kid-entrepreneurs, as well as from customers.
Set up shop in your driveway at a time when you are likely to get some foot traffic, Saturday and Sunday mornings are good, especially if you live in a neighborhood that has a lot of garage sales on the weekend. Many people are already driving or walking around with money in hand, ready to spend.
If you know someone who is having a garage sale, ask if you can set up shop. They’ll most likely say yes, in exchange for a few fun pictures of their own, of course.
Also, invite your friends and neighbors to come to your photo booth and get their pictures taken. That’s how we started. We didn’t get very much traffic, but we didn’t expect to. We just wanted to test it out.
After you test it out, look for other places to set up shop. Here are some options:
- See if your neighborhood, school or community center has an annual rummage sale. Sign up now and be ready!
- Set up at a farmers’ market or at one of your local parks. (Be sure to find out about the rules and fees ahead of time.)
- Make a “pet photo booth” in front of a pet store (remember to ask for permission first). You can even donate the proceeds to a local animal shelter.
Note: Be aware of your local laws about doing business in public places. Get permission if you want to use someone’s private property.
#3: Set Up Your Booth
Once you’re on location, set up your signs, backdrop, costumes, table and chairs.
If you haven’t already done so, make signs announcing your photo booth. Use markers, crayons or paint on colored paper or poster board. For small signs, attach wooden skewers and stick them into the ground.
Set up your backdrop and find a convenient place to display your costumes and props. A few large baskets will work nicely for costumes, accessories and props—one basket for each. Put your cardboard cutouts in a jar or vase on the signup table, so your customers can look through them easily.
Also, print out order forms and have several pens on hand.
Once your booth is in order but before you open for business, walk your kids through an example of how things will work before they get their first customer.
Pretend you’re a customer and walk your kids through the process in advance to bring up their comfort level and identify any problems in advance. Tell them it’s okay to be nervous, and you’ll be there every step of the way.
The more relaxed and prepared they are, the more enjoyable the adventure will be for everyone: parents, kids and customers!
#4: Take Fun Photos
Use any type of camera to take the pictures. A simple point-and-shoot or camera phone will work really well for this type of pic. We used our iPhone camera to make things super-simple.
Make sure your kids take turns taking pictures. You may even want to take some, too! Show your kids how to “frame the shot,” so that they’ll look like real photo booth pictures.
Take several pictures of each customer. Decide in advance what you think would be an appropriate number of pictures to take for each photo or photo strip purchased. For example, three or four for individual shots, five to seven for those who want a photo strip. That way, you set the rules up in advance. This is especially important if you have a line of customers waiting to get their pictures taken.
Set up a way to keep track of and match your pictures to your customers. You wouldn’t want them to get a picture of someone else in the mail! A simple way to do this is to take the first picture of your customer while they hold up the order form to the camera. This way, you can match faces to names on the order form.
#5: Send the Pictures
Once your customers choose the pictures they like, send them directly from your phone. This is another great reason to use a camera phone for your photo booth!
To make an authentic-looking photo strip, take at least five pictures. Once you have “photo approval” from your customer, note the winners (or just delete the ones they don’t like), so you can create the strip and email it to them later.
For customers who would like a print copy mailed to them, use a service like Snapfish or Shutterfly to order inexpensive prints online. Once the photos arrive, mail them to your customers with a little thank-you note.
Depending on the number of orders you get, this should only take 30 minutes to order the prints and another 30 minutes to mail them out. Note: Check how long the service takes to mail out photos ahead of time, so you can let your customers know when they can expect their photos.
Work with your kids through every step of the process. It is, after all, a family adventure. If appropriate, let older kids take the lead. It’s a great way for them to develop organizational, communication and leadership skills.
Some Final Thoughts…
Starting a photo booth business with your kids is a fun family activity. There are lots of opportunities to get creative and have a great time. It’s not hard and it can be educational. Your kids will learn how to confidently communicate with people, how to manage the money they earn and the importance of being diligent and finishing the work they set out to do.
When we do our family business ventures, sometimes we make money and sometimes we don’t. But regardless of the level of traditional “success,” we’ve played, laughed and had meaningful conversations with our kids. That’s the whole point!
We hope we’ve inspired you to start a business with your kids!
What do you think? Have you ever started a business with your kids? What sort of venture? A lemonade stand? A car wash? How’d it work out? Are you ready to try a family photo booth? What do you think kids can learn from going into business? Tell us about the businesses you’ve started—or want to start—in the comments. We’d love to see pictures too.
Images from iStockPhoto.
Natalie is co-founder of Entrepreneur Kids Academy. She loves her family's business adventures. She inspires other parents and kids to start a business too! Other posts by Natalie Hixson »