Specialist photo retailers and professional photographers seeking new revenue streams (particularly in country areas, where you need to be all things to all people to pay the bills) have been dipping their toes into event and local sports photography and hiring out photo booth set ups for informal photo sessions.
But as US photo retailing legend Chris Lydle (pictured right) told an virtual audience at the virtual IPIC 2020 conference in August, since Covid reared its plug-ugly head, ‘photo booths can kill people.’
And with our political leaders and the media having scared the metaphorical out of their populations over the last six months or so, anything as up-close-and-personal as a photo booth won’t be coming back into popularity in a hurry.
(As one wag wrote recently: ‘Frightening people is fairly easy. Un-frightening them is a bastard.’)
After a distinguished career Chris is kinda, sorta retired, but maintains an interest in Chris’ Camera Centers and Hotlanta Photo Booths. Having literally written the book on photo booths, he introduced IPIC to the simple, low cost and low risk alternative – the virtual photo booth.
‘Without venturing out of your office or home, you can capture some of the magic fun of the old time photo booth. You can keep your company identity in front of customers, make some new friends and maybe even make a little money,’ he said.
Your ‘virtual guests’ take photos with their phones, send them to you, and get back a fun booth-like image in just seconds, while the pics get posted to an album. And of course there’s the potential for print sales.
He had the idea after seeing a ‘virtual prom’ being promoted by the local high school and offered to set up an accompanying virtual photo booth. This is how he saw it working:
– We’ll design a custom overlay, much like our regular red carpet or photo booth overlays;
– Prom ‘attendees’ take selfies in their regalia or pyjamas;
– They post their photos on Instagram with a special hashtag;
– We harvest those photos into a computer folder (one of our programs does most of the work);
– We’ll pop those photos into that custom overlay;
– The photos will be uploaded to a gallery on SmugMug kind of like this: https://hotlantaphotobooths.smugmug.com/Parties/Q100s-Girls-Night-Out-at-the-Coca-Cola-Roxie/
– A check over the photos before posting to make sure nothing inappropriate sneaks in;
– The gallery stays up for several months.
‘Remember, this was to be a Virtual prom. The “attendees” wouldn’t be in a shared space, they’d just be listening to a DJ playing a special playlist. So I couldn’t even set up a camera in a central spot,’ he explained.