How to Rent a Photo Booth for Any Event

Everyone loves photo booths. Kids. Adults. Grandparents. Everyone.

There's something about seeing one that lets people be silly, whether or not they've had some adult beverages!

I remember the first time we saw a photo booth at a wedding. It was a massive booth like the ones at the mall. You got inside with one other person (or three, depending on how excited people were!) and it took a series of three photos. The photos were printed out on a strip in about two minutes. The couple rented it and it cost a fortune (almost $500). It was fun but I can't imagine how hard it was to coordinate delivery, get it set up, and if it failed… well, sorry.

More recently, at a birthday party, we saw one that was far simpler. It was an iPad on a stand and a little photo printer. (we've since seen these everywhere)

If you're throwing an event and want a unique party favor for your guests to remember the special occasion – a photo booth might do the trick. it's a growing trend for weddings, fundraisers, parties, and corporate events like the office Christmas party.

Portable photo booths can be as simple or fancy as you desire with backdrops and props. The largest booths can hold up to 15 people. More importantly, you can rent a photo booth whether you have a large budget or need to save money.

That made me wonder, how hard is it to rent a photo booth for a party?

Here's what you need to know.

If you need to find a photographer, either a professional one or a photo booth, you can find one on Thumbtack.

Traditional Photo Booths

The first rental option is similar to what you might see at the mall. The one difference is that these booths are portable. Your guests not having to insert a credit card or quarters to have their picture taken is another perk.

A local photo booth rental company assembles and operates the booth with a live attendant. The rental company usually supplies the props, prints the pictures, and compiles a scrapbook for you to keep.

Depending on which booth size you pick, it may only hold a few people or a group as large as 15. Smaller booths may require your guests to sit. To get one of these booths, you should plan on having at least 6′ x 6′ of free space but as much as 10′ x 15′. These larger booths are usually a portable tent.

The rental company may provide a standard background, green screen, or multiple backgrounds. Digital props, custom effects, and various social media filters may also be available in a premium package.

Most booths can print a single photo or a multi-pose strip your guest can take home. The print can either be in color or black and white. You may also offer a digital photo library for guests to easily access later on.

How to Rent

Searching “photo booth rentals near me” is the quickest way to find the best options. Many cities have at least three rental companies. You will see their booth rental options, prices, and amenities on their website. Some companies require you to request a quote to see prices.

Legit rental companies provide a gallery of recent rental pictures. Browsing the gallery helps you pick which booth and props you want to offer.

Cost

Exact rental costs vary by city. However, the pricing model is similar. Most companies require a minimum rental between 2 and 4 hours. Then you pay extra for each additional hour. Photo printing is included in the rental fee.

Below is a example quote for an enclosed booth rental in Tennessee:

  1. First three hours: $450 Mon-Thurs and $600 Friday-Sunday
  2. Each additional hour: $150 Mon-Thurs and $200 Friday-Sunday
  3. Idle time: $40 to $50 per hour (booth closed during speeches, dinner, etc.)
  4. Delivery fee: Free within 40 miles
  5. Photo prints: Unlimited 2×6 color or black & white prints for guests
  6. Props: Included
  7. Scrapbook station: $50
  8. USB drive for all photos: $25

So, if you plan on renting a booth for four hours on a Saturday night, your rental fee is $800. During this time, the booth is open and your guests can take unlimited photos.

If you want the booth to close during certain events, you pay a discounted idle time rate instead. For example, you can rent the booth for three hours and have one hour of idle time.

You may also pay an extra $75 to get a physical copy of each photo and a USB flash drive. Although certain upgrades are free when you rent for enough hours.

What's Included?

Standard rental includes unlimited photos and prints. A booth technician operates the booth to make sure everything runs smoothly. The booth has a fixed DSLR camera and a 24-inch touchscreen so guests can easily review their poses before the pictures print.

Most companies include standard props for free like sunglasses, signs, and hats. But you may need to pay more for themed props like Valentine's Day or St. Patrick's Day.

Camera

The most commonly used camera is an 18-megapixel DSLR camera. The camera can either be what a photographer uses. To save space, some booths integrate the camera into the tablet touchscreen guests tap to take their photo.

Backdrop Options

Most booths come with a standard backdrop or green screen. If you rent an inflatable or cloth canopy, that may serve as the backdrop. You will pay more to have a more exquisite premium background.

Another optional upgrade is the “red carpet treatment” which includes the red carpet and a velvet rope.

Print Photo Options

Each company may offer different sizes and quantities for print photos. The standard size is 2×6 inches. Your guest may only get a single print. Other booths may offer to print up to four poses in a photo strip.

Pros

  1. Can produce more professional quality photos
  2. Unlimited photos and prints
  3. Operated by a rental company technician

Cons

  1. More expensive than a DIY photo booth.
  2. Can only rent from local companies (shipping would be too expensive)
  3. Can require more space than portable booths

DIY Photo Booth

If you're on a budget, a DIY photo booth is more affordable. It's possible to save 50% on traditional photo booth rental costs. A one-day rental may only cost $300. But a traditional photo booth rental may cost $600+ for the same event.

These booths can produce better-quality photos than your friend's iPhone or tablet. And you can have more flexibility than hiring a roaming photographer. Many booths come with a built-in iPad and lighting system.

You can rent these portable booths online. The company will ship them directly to you. When your event finishes, you mail back the equipment using the return shipping label.

Your rental costs vary as it depends on how many items you rent. For instance, you will pay more if you also rent a printer package, backdrop, and props. But your costs still be significantly cheaper than renting a traditional photo booth.

One downside to this booth type is that you don't have an attendant. That means you or a friend will need to staff the booth to fix any potential malfunctions. DIY rental booths are pretty user-friendly. You can call technical support if you have a problem.

The most likely technical problem might be printing pictures. To avoid possible glitches (and save you money), photo printing is an optional service. The default option for the guests to get their pictures is through email or social media. They also save to a digital library you can access too.

How to Rent

Like the local photo booth rental companies, you can search for “photo booth rentals near me.” Some of the results will be for mail-delivery services.

Or you can also get a quote from these companies:

  1. Booth By Demand
  2. Booth By Mail
  3. Rent My Photobooth
  4. Simple Booth

Most rentals arrive one or two days before your event date. You then have up to two days after the event to return the booth via FedEx or UPS. Your package comes with a prepaid shipping label. You can schedule a pickup or drop off at an office supply store, UPS Store, or FedEx Store.

Maybe you plan on using a booth for several occasions soon. It might be worth your time to make your own DIY photo booth.

Cost

A basic rental package costs approximately $300 (versus $450+ for a full-size booth with a live attendant). This price includes the camera and touchscreen display, tripod, lighting system, and return shipping. You should also receive basic props and a digital copy of the pictures.

What's Included?

Standard rentals include these items:

  1. Camera and touchscreen monitor
  2. Tripod
  3. Lighting system
  4. Carrying case

Some companies may also include a free backdrop and limited photo prints. However, most companies require you to rent a backdrop and printer or provide your own.

Camera

Most DIY photo booths have an iPad-like tablet. Your guests use the touchscreen to take the picture and share it via social media or email. The camera resolution can be competitive with the live attendant booths.

A few companies may also let you use your own iPad or Wi-Fi-enabled DSLR camera DSLR Camera. You will need to download an app like The Photo Booth App ($29 per 30 days). For one-time rentals, it's probably easier to use the rental company equipment. If you have any problems, you get tech support too.

Backdrop Options

You will most likely need to pay a separate fee to rent a backdrop. Another option is providing your own backdrop if you don't have a good background at your event. One simple DIY backdrop is a 53-inch wide by 16-foot long seamless paper backdrop, you can even buy it off Amazon to get free shipping.

Some companies offer rentable inflatable and cloth canopy booths. These booths can cost an extra $250, but still cheaper than renting a traditional booth.

Tip: Check out the Amazon Prime hacks Amazon Prime hacks to save more money!

Printing Photos

The standard photo sharing option for guests is by email or social media. You can get a digital library containing all the photos for free.

It costs extra to provide printed photo strips to your guests as you need to rent a printer. Many print packages cost between $100 and $150 with 100 standard prints (200 photos). You and the guest can each get a photo. You will need to spend more if you anticipate printing more photos.

If you can provide your own printer, the Canon Selphy 1300 Canon Selphy 1300 is likely the same model you will rent. This is a dye-sublimation printer that has better print quality than the inkjet in your home office.

Pros

  1. Can be 50% cheaper than a traditional photo booth
  2. Easy-to-setup
  3. Take unlimited photos your guests can get through email or social media

Cons

  1. Have to provide your own backdrop
  2. Physical prints cost extra
  3. No live attendant

Relying on your friend's cell phone or a roaming photographer are not the only two ways to capture photo memories. Renting a traditional photo booth or a DIY booth can be stress-free and affordable.

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Josh Patoka

About Josh Patoka

After graduating in $50k with student loans in May 2008 from Virginia Military Institute with a B.A. International Studies and Political Science with a minor in Spanish (I studied abroad in Sevilla, Spain for 3 months), Josh decided to sell his soul for seven years by working in the transportation industry to get out of debt ASAP and focus on doing something else with a better work-life balance.

He is a father of three and has been writing about (almost) everything personal finance since 2015. You can also find him at his own blog Money Buffalo where he shares his personal experience of becoming debt-free (twice) and taking a 50%+ pay cut when he changed careers.

Today, Josh relishes the flexibility of being self-employed and debt-free and encourages others to pursue their dreams. Josh enjoys spending his free time reading books and spending time with his wife and three children.

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