it a wedding, an anniversary, a birthday or Bar
Mitzvah party, a corporate event, a piece of
experiential marketing, an awards ceremony or a good
old-fashioned knees-up or 'happening', a Groovybooth
is an indispensable addition to your event. People
love having their photos taken and they love to have
fun with friends. The Groovybooth combines these
They may start the evening off shy but you will be
beating them back with sticks by the end of the
Digger talks to Dave Rogers at Groovybooth about the
booth phenomenon and what it's like to run Groovybooth.
Hello Dave. Please tell us about your background and
the background to Groovybooth.
Iím Dave Rogers and my business partner is James
were both wedding photographers and one day James was
explaining about this idea that heíd seen in the
USA. The nostalgia of it just grabbed me and it was so
catchy and I thought what a fantastic idea. We soon
thought of a name which was retro in itself Ė
Groovybooth. We thought if we do this itís quite a
niche area that we can get involved with. Itís got
to be done well and itís got to be done
professionally. So we built one in the garage and trialled
at a couple of weddings and the first wedding just
went down such a storm. It was so much fun.
I suppose a problem with weddings these days is that
everyoneís got a camera and a computer and they all
think they can do it themselves?
We donít replace the wedding photographer, but with
the wedding entertainment in the evening, we come
along and set up the booth. Our first one was wheeled
in in parts and put together. But having been found by
The Guardian for their awards ceremony, then they
invited us back because they loved it so much. They
had us back for their staff party. So we did that
under Covent Garden. Then we thought we had got to
build it a bit bigger and stronger so we had one
properly designed for us.
How many have you got now?
We are now operating eight photo booths with the
company, which are across the country. And we can
stylise it in any way. We can brand and wrap. Weíve
got gold and silver, black, red, leopard print and
holographic, so we can put all sorts on the booth.
I suppose it appeals to peopleís sense of fun and
also to their vanity? Most of us like having our photo
taken, donít we?
Yes, people love it. We all do.
I can remember, this is a very nostalgic thing, as a
youngster going to Liverpool Street or Fenchurch
Street stations and there would be three machines
actually. There was the photo booth where you would
cram into it with your mates and pull faces...
Also a machine where you could record onto a floppy
piece of plastic. Youíre too young to remember that.
No, I do remember those.
They also had the milk dispenser as featured in one of
The Beatlesí movies, with pyramid shaped cartons.
Iíve seen pictures of those, maybe on your site and
you mentioned them there as well.
It touches a button in peopleís memories and I
suppose the younger people like to try it because
itís what the sixties and the seventies represent to
Yes, I guess so.
What sorts of people and events are booking your
Itís a complete cross-section. Obviously we aimed it
at the wedding market and so we are doing wedding
parties, 21st birthdays, 50th
birthdays, 40ths. Tomorrow weíre doing a joint
100th, as in two people who add up to a
hundred and weíre doing a '170' later on in the year!
Thereís lots of Americanisms coming over here with
proms and baby showers and suchlike.
Thatís exactly what I was going to say. Weíre
doing proms, award ceremonies, we do office parties,
festivals like a stand we did for Penguin Books at
I suppose you do private parties for some famous
people you canít talk about as well?
Yes, can I just say weíve had some celebs and even
some Royals in our booths. We do Bar-Mitzvahs and
Bat-Mitzvahs. We also have done some shopping malls
Ė not quite the one that takes your photo, is it? So
you canít quite squash in there but ours have wind
machines in them that make them a lot of fun.
Whatís the wind machine for?
Thatís for the women or for those with long hair to
have the glamour shot.
Iím with you.
The wind machine goes on and the hair flies in the
Some blokes will appreciate that too.
Why has the demand for Retro photo booths increased so
Actually, itís the sort of entertainment that grows
because itís ageless and because, at a party, young
and old are there and itís such a focus at the
parties. It allows everyone, if they want to, to have
a bit of fun and bring out the kid in them again.
Itís nostalgia in itself and with no photographer
behind them so youíre on your own. For half the
guests itís nostalgia because they remember
Woolworths and the station booths and everybody has
photos of family and friends who had them taken
at Woolworths. The modern photo booths just arenít
Do you then post stuff up on the web for people to
Because weíre now in the digital age the advantage
with SLRís Ė our prints come out in fifteen
seconds, no waiting around.
Not like the old days where you twiddled your thumbs
for several minutes.
Thatís right. And I always say to people when they
come out of the booths ďYou havenít been in one of
those for a long timeĒ when theyíre shaking the
photo dry. (Both laugh) But youíre exactly right,
itís good entertainment and it just increases
demand. I suppose those of us who used to have to go
in and pay - now when they go to a party and donít
have to pay a thing for it because the host is
They used to be quite expensive.
Yes, and now theyíre £5 for just one photo
multiplied four times. We do four multiple shots or
six that come out at once and guests donít have to
foot the bill. So our guests are the best form of
marketing, really, because if youíve got 150 guests
and they love the 'Wow!' of it and the nostalgia of it
so the customers are doing the marketing for us.
How many staff have you got around the country?
We have a few part-timers on the books and a number of
full-timers who work for us as and when we have the
bookings, so itís good actually.
What feedback are you getting from clients?
ďHilarious funĒ is one of them and really the one
we hear so much is ďThis is simply the best
entertainment Iíve seen at a party.Ē And thatís
not an exaggeration. Itís great to have that. I even
had one groom and I said ďDonít repeat what you
just said to me back to your bride.Ē He said ďThis
is the best thing at my wedding."
laughs) How much did he have to pay you not to tell
Some guests who havenít jammed into a booth before,
teenagers, sometimes fall out the booth in stitches
and then join the back of the queue and thatís great
That reminds me of the seventies when we all used to
cram into cars. I can remember one time there were
fifteen of us crammed into a Morris Minor and a
policeman came up to the stationery car and said to
the driver ďYour door wasnít closed properlyĒ
and closed it for her. They wouldnít do that these
days! How times have changed.
The feedback we also get is families asking us back a
second or third time, and a lot of times
for other members of the family marking a different
stage or anniversary in their life. Thereís an
addictive side to Groovybooth. Thatís fun. But also
companies are using us for marketing and they talk
about providing experiences for clients and customers.
Yes, they call it experiential marketing.
Thatís exactly what it is and one company has
invited us back seven or eight times, just to bring
different departments together. It's because they love the
fact that teams get together and are having the fun.
Thereís also product marketing, because they realise
that if the general public are beside a branded booth
and enjoy the free photos and a lot of fun itís a
great way of promoting their product or new service.
You should try getting the actor who plays Rab C
Nesbitt for your advertising. Do you remember when he
appeared in the booth for the cigar ads?
Oh, the Hamlet one?! Yes, it was brilliant. Hilarious.
I think that ad would still be in a lot of
peopleís memories. Just an idea.
Iíll let you know if it works.
Why is Retro and Nostalgia so enduringly popular?
Yes, human beings have this ability to remember the
Retro and nostalgia are all about remembering the past
Ė the creative, the stylish the fun. And recreating
and revisiting or reliving happy and positive
Itís better still to experience it and thatís why
itís enduringly popular, because people want to
relive the fun memories of the past. It doesnít
remain in the past because itís up-to-date.
Do you think weíll be nostalgic about the nineties
and the noughties?
(Laughs) I donít know. Itís difficult to know,
What gives you the most pleasure about running
Itís such a fun product and we spend all our lives
at parties, which are fun anyway, so itís really
seeing clients, customers, their families and friends
really enjoying something so simple. Providing a
really fun service and seeing the reactions. And
leaving at the end of an event or party just knowing
that weíve added something positive.
I donít suppose you get many weekends to yourself? I
guess you have to Ďcatch upí in the week and take
time off in the week if you can?
Itís definitely weighted towards the weekend.
Weddings and parties, definitely, but we are getting more
work midweek from corporates who are putting stuff on
all the time. So we span out our weeks slightly differently.
If I was planning a party or a corporate event, what
are the main things people need to know and consider
when booking your booths?
The first thing is watch out. It is such a big hit and,
practically speaking, you just need to give a lot of
space and think about where youíre going to put it
and donít just jam a photo booth into a corner. One
party that we attended in the early days was an
example of how it should be Ė the party had food, a
bit of music and the Groovybooth and the party just
revolved around the booth. The host had invited the
guests to come with props and wigs and hats and
glasses and so on and she didnít tell them why. And
Iíve never been to a party with so much laughter and
the caterer at the end was surprised how little
alcohol they needed.
Because it was such a success.
Thatís good, isn't it?
So, yes, it is good.
I understand what you mean. I was the nominated driver at one party so I didnít
drink but I still remember seeming to get drunk on the
Itís strange what our brains tell us.
Yes, yes, yes.
What do you see as the future for Groovybooth?
Every party is different and always gives us ideas of
what we could do to add to future bookings, how we
could grow Groovybooth and what we offer with new innovations.
Thereís always interest in Groovybooth but it is
growing, possibly four-fold over the last year and a
half alone. So we already have plans to grow,
consolidate and change with the times and really
listen to what the customers are wanting. It is an
When people first see the booth, is there a hesitation
to be the first person to use it?
At the beginning of an evening there sometimes is and
people say ďI might come back later.Ē But once a
few people have gone in, itís just a constant
I was a guest at a party at a house and in one room
they had a large karaoke set up. A real whizz-bang
karaoke system. The room was empty at the start of the
party so I thought Iíd have a go. Within an hour or
two it was the busiest room and thronging with people
Ďfightingí to get to have a go! The funniest thing
was two girls who had said about me ďThe guy running
the karaoke is very good.Ē (Both laugh)
Youíve got a bit of a voice then?
Apparently! I must have compared to the others there
anyway! I surprised myself there. Dave, that's the end
of the interrogation ... it's been great and thank you
Thank you for that. I wish you all the best with what
not expecting to be a millionaire bit I am
enjoying what Iím doing, like you.
When I looked at the questions you sent through it was
very useful because sometimes you donít stop to look
at where youíve come from, where you are and where
youíre going to. So this was a useful exercise for
Thatís heartwarming to hear Dave. Quite a few people
have said that it has been useful for them. One guy
told me it would have taken him three days to summarise
his business in writing and we did it in a half hour
interview. Have a good weekend Dave and may the
business go from strength to strength. I look forward
to having a go in a Groovybooth.
Thanks very much and all the best.