Pretty good. Just very, very busy. It doesn't seem to stop
Why do you think you're so busy?
Lots of people finding out about us. It just seems that the
whole world, or at least the UK, seems to have found out
about our photobooths in the last few months.
It certainly seems that they are very much in fashion at the
Very much so.
And let's hope it stays that way.
I hope so.
Can you tell us about your background and the background to
Yes. I am a wedding photographer and have been for most of
my working life. About three years ago a photographer friend
of mine over in Florida was telling me that he'd been
running photo booths and how much business he'd been doing.
And I thought "Hmm, that sounds interesting."
Within two months we had one of our own. We covered our
first Photobooth for a wedding I was already shooting back
in December 2007.
How much has that business changed over the last few years
with digital technology?
It's completely transformed it and there's is really no
comparison to how it was. Everything is almost instant now
and you don't have to worry about darkrooms or colour labs.
You can encourage people to go online now - friends and
family, and choose what they want too?
That's right. Everything has totally changed.
I can remember the long wait from when the photos had been
taken to when they were ready. If you were lucky and they
could process the photos quickly, they'd be shown at the
wedding reception in the evening on a couple of easels.
We used to do that with the customers I had back in the
1980s and that is the way we used to sell our wedding
Why do you think there's been this resurgence in booths?
There's no photographer involved and nobody standing behind
a camera saying "Smile." The booth is
private and people can actually see themselves on a screen
in front of them. It's just a relationship between
themselves and the image of themselves on the screen in
front of them.
Can you tell us a bit about some of the options you've got
We have various different kinds of packages on offer
according to the type of function we do. For example, we
found very early on that Bar Mitzvahs and Bat Mitzvahs were
far more demanding than, say, a wedding. With a wedding, we
can turn up about an hour beforehand and get everything set
up and then we'll run the photo booth for three straight
hours and then our job is essentially done. We provide a
guest book for the bride and groom and present it to them
and then we're basically finished. With Bar Mitzvahs, for
example, historically I was covering Bar Mitzvahs but only
providing keyrings. So, as a photographer, I would go round
and photograph all the youngsters and a very few of the
adults and we'd go away to another part of the hall and
print out their pictures and pop them in keyrings. That was
what we used to offer. When the photo booths came along I
wanted to incorporate the keyrings into what we offered for
Bar Mitzvahs and we were getting clients that had used us
before or had been recommended to us and they wanted the
keyrings as well. When it comes to the guestbook, it's not
just an option anymore, it's already part of the package
that we offer to weddings or parties for individuals. For me
the Guestbook is the very essence of the Photobooth.
A corporate function, for example, they will almost never
require a guestbook as the party is rarely for an
individual. We usually include a disc of the images from the
Photobooth in the package that we offer to corporate
How does that look, the guestbook?
Our guestbooks do look very, very good. We have everything
handmade - even the pages we make ourselves. They're black
and people write on them depending on whether their photos
are black and white or colour in gold pens or silver pens.
The covers - we have them made by our bookbinder who will
make the books up in a colour, or colours that our client
has chosen and block their names on the front cover. Every
album we do is personalised.
That's a nice memory - we didn't have that in my day.
What sort of feedback are you getting from the clients?
We can expect to get three jobs from every one that we
Wow. That's the best sort of feedback you can hope for
It certainly is.
Why is retro so popular?
I don't know. But if you're talking specifically about photo
booths, they have been around for close on a hundred years.
I didn't realise it was that long.
Yes, there's a couple of websites I found when I was doing
my research. These sites cover a history of photo booths.
Andy Warhol was using them back in the sixties to create
some of his art.
I can remember them as a young boy back in the sixties at
railway stations. There was usually a milk machine, with
milk pyramid-shaped cartons, a photo booth and even a
machine where you could record your voice onto a floppy
We must be the same sort of age.
What plans have you got for the future of the business?
In the end, we are probably the busiest photo booth company
in the UK and last weekend we covered twelve functions over
a single weekend.
You must have a lot of staff?
Yes, we have a quite a few part-time staff. We now have four
photo booths, soon to be five. The photo booths are not the
issue - reliable and quality staff are the issue. We tend to
use people we know and they have proved to be more reliable.
Have you split the UK into different chunks with a person
covering each chunk?
We haven't worked that way, although we now do a form of
franchise where we have offices in Melbourne, Australia, the
north-west of England, South Wales and soon to be in
Northern Ireland, Scotland and the north-east. That will
cover essentially the whole of the UK and the only piece
missing will be the south-west. We don't get that many
enquiries from the south-west. When we do, it's such a
distance to travel that the price of the Photobooth has to
be higher. We would like an office down that way. When we
get to five photo booths based from my office here in London
we will stop there.
The next thing is staying ahead of the game and offering
products that go with the photobooth that nobody else can
offer. We have some very, very nice new products that we
will be offering very soon.
I suppose it's difficult to predict how the technology's
going to move ahead. You can only plan so far because we
don't know how things are going to look, do we?
It is true, but in the end the technology side is the thing
that gives us the medium to create all these things. Having
said that, all of our end product has nothing to do with
technology. There are a couple of ideas that we have
bubbling in the pot where somebody will be able to tap in
their mobile phone number just before they go into the
photobooth and their images will be sent by text straight to
Impressive. Do you find that people want a physical print,
as it were?
Yes, they do and we found this out very early on. We give
away a lot of prints.
Does it mean that you're not doing the traditional
photography at ceremonies and parties anymore and focusing
on the booths?
Pretty much so. We still shoot weddings - a lot of people
would regard wedding photography as being very overpaid for
working on a single day. What many don't realise is that
from the moment we arrive to shoot a wedding to the
completion and delivery of the wedding album it will take a
whole weeks work. With a photobooth, by the end of the
night, apart from creating a web gallery and possibly a
couple of extras like thank you cards - the job is finished
Once people got digital cameras and computers they all
became instant experts in photography and graphic design.
Yes, it's true and the number of wedding photographers in
the UK has probably doubled in the last five years but the
number of weddings has gone down. A client who booked a
Photobooth yesterday will be using a wedding photographer
who has never shot a wedding before... I fear for the
quality of their wedding photographs and they may be
regretting it for a long, long time.
That's right, you only get one chance to record a big day
Yes. It is a one off occasion that cannot be repeated.
When I hear someone say "I know a chap down the road
who does..." I always think they're going to end up
with something second rate.
Well Richard, that's great. Thanks for letting us know about
the Photobooth boom!
Thank you David.