What if you gave a Photo Booth, and nobody came?

Posted in Blog, In the News

It seemed like such a great idea.

My gf Annie and I have started doing portrait and event photography together – she l’artiste, me the geek. She had the great hats and flair, I had the lights and lenses. Our target market – women like ourselves, wanting to have some fun, doll up, look great, have some great photos taken for friends, family and posterity.

From Annie’s many year experience as a volunteer for The Portland Historic Races, it seemed like a perfect place to put the word out about what we were doing. Lots of upscale folks, the men digging the cool old cars, savoring the roar of them racing, the women wandering around for 3 days with nothing to do. Surely they would LOVE to put on fun hats and scarves, and their guys would love sitting in the cool race car, to have their photos taken!

And so we spent time and money – Annie pulled every favor ever owed her to get a very cool race car for them to sit in. Brochures were designed and printed, signs made, a new photo printer bought, folios created for the photos they would have printed and take home. A website was set up for them to order more prints (or aprons or mousepads or whatever they wanted). A coupon was created and printed for the race entrants. A credit card system was set up (Squareup.com – verrry cool). A friend volunteer was recruited and trained to manage the scheduling of appointments, to take money, to talk with folks about booking boudoir shots (or whatever they wanted) later on. The booth fee was paid. Tables, props, cameras, lights, printer, computers, ladders, hats, curtains – all were planned, gathered, loaded, schlepped and set up at PIR over a couple of days time. Finally, we were all set to go.

Unfortunately, it seemed that the economy had hit the race hard in the 4 years since Annie had worked it. The ‘crowd’ was more of a dinner party than a banquet, and those who did show up were more corn dog aficianados than diners of filet mignon.

And so we sat. In three days, we had one taker. Yep. Twenty dollars. We had easily hard cash $400 into it, and much more if we were masochistic enough to add up our time.

Lessons learned? Well, definitely not something we’ll do next year.

Good things that came of it? Got the whole photo booth concept developed that maybe we’ll try somewhere else again, brochures are printed, credit card system set up. We had time to play around with our cameras (see photos above). We were also on hand for Annie’s sister’s wedding  – yes, Becky and Bob were married right there on the track during a lunch break – here are the photos to prove it .

All in all, it was a live and learn kinda thing. Next adventure?!