Where to put your photobooth at your event

Over the weekend I covered a large event at a beautiful historic location in Montreal (the Théatre St. James) which used to be an opulent and ornate old bank.

Théatre St. James in Montreal
Théatre St. James in Montreal

It is a spectacular place for an event – commodious main event space and a secondary space in the basement with access to the old bank vault, which can be converted into a lounge as was done at this event.

Inside the vault
Inside the vault

The engagement included both continuous event coverage and a photobooth from my company, lePartybooth.com. Photobooths never seem to get old and they add an easy and fun activity for guests of all ages at an event. They also provide branding opportunities for sponsors and the event organizers through the use of branded imagery, green screened images and take away, instant prints.

However, to get the full value of your photobooth, consider where in the event you ask for it to be set up. While set-ups vary between open air mobile studios and premium standalone kiosks, most photobooths require about 15 x 15 feet, and ideally even a bit more space for the props table and prints.

Not every event space has optimal locations for photobooths, but your provider should be able to counsel you on where would be ideal. From the client point of view you want the booth somewhere in plain site to the main event and easily accessible by your guests. If they have to go up or down a flight of stairs, or leave the party to go to a secondary room, your participation will drop off a cliff and you will not be getting the best value for your money.

Encourage your guests to share their photos on social media with your event #hashtag

If you are planning to include a photobooth at your next event, keep these simple tips in mind:

  • Include the photobooth somewhere in the main event space
  • Remind your guests a few times throughout the evening that the photobooth is available for their use and they don’t have to pay to use it (*unless you are using the booth as a fundraising tool)
  • Ask your provider if they can furnish you with a few images from the booth to show on the main screen during the event
  • Encourage your guests to share their photobooth images online via the sharing functions built-in to the booth using your event hashtag

And a bonus idea:

If you really want to leverage the photobooth, consider running an in-event contest, offering a prize (voted on by applause or some other crowd-engagement measurement) for the wackiest or most outrageous photobooth pose of the evening.

Photobooths are always popular and including one in your event budget creates another sponsorship vehicle or place to extend the reach of your marketing. Having decided to spend the money, make sure you get the best use from it by making it a prominent and well-situated element in the layout of your floor plan for the event.

Ideas for livening up your next high school reunion party

Julian Haber/Daniel Francis Haber Photographers for lePartybooth.com
IKEA employees having a good time – no assembly required
At PCM’s annual holiday party, everyone is a star

If you are on the organizing committee for your alma mater, high-school, college or university, and trying to think up ways to add some excitement to your event you may want to consider bringing in a photobooth. While the trend for having photobooths at events has been going strong for years, people seem to have an undying appetite for it. With our sister company, lePartybooth, we’ve covered hundreds of events from 9-year old birthday celebrations in the kitchen to corporate hallowe’en and holiday parties, and everything in between. Young or old, CEO or sweet sixteeny boppers, people just love having a space where they are sanctioned to act as silly as they want to. It never ceases to amaze and delight me to see someone walk stiffly into lePartybooth, wrap a sequined scarf around their neck and suddenly transform into an almost scandalous exhibitionist. As an event photographer with a real love for people and parties, running live action photobooths is really one of my favourite jobs. A partybooth is like a joyful confessional where sinners are given full blessings to be as outrageous as they want to be, in the safety of a play space that encourages creativity and acting out.

Having a photobooth onsite at your next company event can help with morale and team-building. There is something about sharing a frame with your colleagues, each wearing a different coloured wig, that helps break down communications barriers and gets people smiling and laughing together. And no matter what your corporate culture, real belly-laughing fun with your colleagues is going to have a positive spillover effect on how you work together when you return to your office spaces and resume functioning as a sane person. (Even if you show up at the board meeting with an errant pink tuft of feather boa stuck on your collar.)

Monkey see, monkey do
Monkey see, monkey do

Here are some ways to make the experience useful for your company and fun for your guests:

  • Have a branded background or have your logo included on each photo
  • Match the props and accessories to the theme of your party
  • Offer onsite prints so your guests can take something home with them (cheaper than most party favours and highly personalized and likely to actually be kept)
  • Have senior management partake and share the photos live at your event – show your employees that while you take your work seriously, you don’t need to take yourselves too seriously
  • Offer a photobooth at a company event and invite family – let parents bring their kids to a work event
  • Use the photobooth as a fundraiser – sell prints and donate the funds to your dedicated cause
Partying like it's 1974
Partying like it’s 1974

Whatever your aim is in hosting an event, having a photobooth onsite can help keep your guests occupied and entertained, and bring a new dimension of fun to your evening. Many photographers offer this kind of service today and you can save money by hiring one who can bring both event coverage (pickup shots) as well as a photobooth service. Ask about it the next time you book a photographer for your event.

Feedback welcome – on your own terms

JHP on Yelp
Yelp me out if you want to!

If you are like me you get feedback requests from nearly every online service you use. I get texts from my cell phone company asking me to fill in surveys after every call I make to them, emails from news sites I subscribe to asking for my opinion, and then there are all those annoying little slidey-up, pop-up windows that appear when you’ve visited a site asking for your opinion. Not to mention apps that periodically request a review – even ones you’ve already paid for. I get it – businesses large and small (especially small) often thrive on positive reviews and sink on negative ones. Word of mouth marketing can be the Midas Touch or the Kiss of Death, depending on how well you perform as a business in satisfying your customer needs. For an independent freelance photographer, providing superior client service is just table stakes. Nonetheless, I’ve always believed that if a client is really happy with your work, they will make the time to say so. If you’ve really done a great job, telling their friends and network about you will reflect well on them as you can then provide the same great service to their social circles. Everybody wins.

But I respect my clients and people’s time above everything and since I find requests for feedback increasingly annoying, I assume others do as well.

Which is my round-about way of saying, that I’ve created a separate page on a the pretty popular recommendations service, Yelp, where reviews from my past, present and perhaps future clients are welcome. Good or not, your honest, real feelings and thoughts on the work I’ve done for and with you are welcome and if you feel so inclined, and have the time, please stop by and let me – and the world – know what you think.

Here’s the link: Julian Haber Photography on Yelp

Thank you!

Planning ahead – book your holiday party photographer early and save big

The Photographer Chef

If you are planning an upcoming website overhaul or launching a new service or product in 2014, now’s the time to start booking your event space and photographer. Remember, booking early guarantees the broadest range of availability (helpful if you are planning to get a lot of headshots done at once – another money saving tip) and lets you tap into your photographer as a resource should you need advice or recommendations in terms of venue, best time for shots, or any other helpful tips to facilitate your planning, particularly if you are looking to book a space for an event in Montreal from out-of-town.

As an event photographer, there are a few times of year that I am busier than others. Fall happens to be one of my busiest seasons (more here), as do holidays in general. Office holiday parties start booking up for dates as early as mid November and run right through to January.  I’ve noticed over the years, that clients who reach out to me early (as in May or June for bookings in December) tend to get the best deals out of me. I am happy to offer some incentives to clients willing to book long in advance and it occurred to me that this might be something worth sharing, hence this post.

Now it is not too late to book an event photographer or partybooth for your upcoming event, but it is wise to try to start shopping around early. For one thing, you will be able to learn about pricing well ahead of time, and have more leverage when dealing with your supplier if you are willing to commit and pay an upfront deposit to hold your booking.

As I provide a full turnkey, wildly fun photobooth experience (www.lepartybooth.com) I am often booked for events for a few hours that also have event photographers working on pick-up shots or full event coverage. Sometimes I’m that photographer, sometimes I’m running lePartybooth and sometimes I provide both services , working in shifts or with one of my regular photographer partners. I usually provide a discount for bundled services (i.e. event coverage and lePartybooth) and can also be of assistance in planning an event as I have worked at hundreds over the years in nearly every event space in and around Montreal. I’m glad to provide input to party planners and event coordinators looking for ideas  – just ask, the sooner the better.  I can recommend venues, optimal times for photographer and even help save money if budget is an issue by recommending just when you might need a photographer, and when you can do without one. All of this advice comes free with any call from a prospective client and I am happy to share.

Getting started early on with your party planning will ensure you end up with a well-run event which in turn will reduce your stress come showtime, and enable you to get the best value for your event dollars.


Top five most popular blog posts

View of Montreal from atop Mount Royal, looking south to the St. Lawrence riverJust a little past the deadline for year-end reviews, I know, but I still think it worthwhile to share the top five most popular posts from blog based on how often they were viewed and read. I’ve also made a tweak to this blog to allow for comments (which I had turned off initially due to an unbelievable amount of spam), so please feel free to comment if any of the links to articles below are helpful for you.

1. Personalized family portrait sessions in your own home

2. Adding a photobooth to your next event is easier than you think

3.What’s in a photographer’s price?

4.Stop getting ripped off for wedding photography

5. What Makes a Great Wedding Photographer?

Julian Haber PhotographyAs one of Montreal’s leading corporate portrait photographers, event photographers and family portrait photographers, I want also to take this time to thank my many clients from 2012 and all the new friends who’ve liked my Facebook page and/or lePartybooth on Facebook and who’ve experienced the mad silly fun of hosting one of lePartybooth‘s madcap set ups at their event.lePartybooth If you haven’t already, please do visit either of these two sites. Many of my clients spend time on Facebook which is why these sites were created. Most (though not all) blog posts I publish here are linked to on either of those two sites so if you prefer streaming all your media through your Facebook account, then you may find it easier to follow my blog posts there.

I am always looking for new content to post here so if you have any suggestions or questions you’d like to ask a professional photographer in Montreal, please send me an email anytime.

I am looking forward to 2013 and have some exciting new ideas for a new line of personalized portraits I will be blogging about in the coming months so stay tuned and keep smiling — the best is yet to come.



These photos are contagious – How to make your next product launch go viral

When a company wants to get the word out about a new product it is launching it often organizes an event. Influencers are invited (bloggers, specialists in the field, client evangelists), wined and dined and given opportunities to sample, try, and hopefully be wowed by the new product. An event photographer is often included in the marketing budget for the event, to help capture images of client interactions with the product and create a sense of excitement around the product launch, and therefore, the new product.

A bottleneck exists however, between the intended purpose of the photos produced and the way event photos are typically processed. The normal method is for the event photographer to deliver a set of images (usually via a passkey protected website) directly to the client, who then takes a few days to review them and sends them off. If they are really on the ball they will solicit a small set of key, high res images to have on hand immediately to send to media or through other channels (perhaps their brand’s Facebook page or Twitter feed). While this is a step in the right direction, there is a better way to really leverage your investment in event photos: incorporate a photobooth experience and make it easy for your guests to access and share their own photos.

A photobooth experience is an innovation on the standard meet-and-greet photo whereby guests enter a space, pose in front of a branded backdrop, and move on.  While this method is good for capturing countless very similar images of separate individuals and couples, it doesn’t actually create a lot of value for the organizer. The event photographer may spend an hour or more setting up the lighting and (depending on the size of the invitation list) shooting the arrivals, usually at additional cost to the event organizer. Is  the yield worth it? The end client (the event planner, PR firm or coordinator) will receive a large volume of nearly identical shots that they can only use a few of, guests will have a rather boring experience posing for a photographer, and the images will at best feature on the company/brand webpage somewhere where they are unlikely to be copied or shared by the subjects at a very high share rate. 

A better approach, and one with proven social virality, is to incorporate an element of whimsy and fun into these posed shots in front of a creative backdrop. At lePartybooth, for example (a sister company of Julian Haber Photography) a vast range of props are provided along with a huge selection of varied and playful backdrops. These props and accessories become playthings for the invitees who invariably love the experience of playing dress up. No matter what your product, a photobooth experience can greatly enhance your guests’ enjoyment of the launch, and, because every photo produced is unique and engages the creativity and playfulness of the subject, it is highly likely to be shared and re-shared by the person in the photo themselves. In effect, every image is contagious and will be taken from a main site and reposted to a subject’s own Facebook page or other social media channel. Instant virality.

Of course it is important to tie in the photobooth experience to the product and brand being launched, so some consideration can be given to the kinds of props and backdrop provided. For example, if you are launching a new phone handset, throw in a few giant oversized versions of your phone that guests can pose with. Or if your product is a new vehicle, provide a few stylized plush toy versions that guests can use in their photos. Getting creative with the props showcases not only your brand or product, but shows that you “get” that people no matter who they are, don’t want to be mere platforms for your company advertising. Treating people with respect and giving them something interesting and fun to do at your product launch translates into higher ROI on your event dollars. It means there is a far greater likelihood your guests will leave your event feeling happy and they are much more likely to want to share their photos online within their networks – which ultimately extends your reach far beyond the original invitation list.

It is imperative to leverage all event spending and get the best bang for your buck. Incorporate a photobooth experience into your next product launch, restaurant or store opening, fundraiser or other event aimed at gaining widespread public reach and you will reap benefits many times over your budgeted marketing spend.

Five fun (and affordable) ideas for your Christmas Party

Are you hosting or planning a Christmas party this season for your family, friends or office? If so, here are a few ideas to consider that can help make your party the one everyone wants to be at:

  1. Spruce up your drinks! Atlantic Monthly writer, Wayne Curtis has written a fun little piece on literally adding spruce to your holiday cocktails. Nothing says Christmas like a bit of evergreen so why not add a sprig of spruce to your drink and see what happens? You can read the full article here.
  2. Secret Santa: coming from a huge and (happily) growing family, we made a decision years ago to dispense with the tradition of gift giving to and from each and every one of us, and replace it with Secret Santa. Essentially everyone agrees to a spending cap that is doable for all, and then we each draw a name from a hat. You tell no one whom you drew, unless you draw yourself or your spouse in which case you draw again, and then you buy just one, really good gift for the one person on your list. It helps keep you focused on the giving side of the gift business and is a good way not to break the bank.
  3. Stealing Santa: Now giving is fun, but stealing someone else’s silly gift is even more fun! How it works is simple and is usually the most fun part of our Christmas celebration. Everyone agrees to a low spending cap (under $20 or even $10) and purchases a gift that is either completely horrible and tacky, or desirable, or silly, or just plain weird. You wrap up the gift so no one can tell what it is, and the first person to start (in our tradition it is the youngest player) selects a present from the pile. He or she opens it up and the next person then is whoever put that present into the mix. That person then has the option to either “steal” the present from the previous player, or take another from the pile. A few other rules apply like not allowing any touching, shaking, or smelling of wrapped gifts so that each selection from the pile is completely blind. As well, you can’t steal from the person who just stole from you. Depending on the size of your group this game can take a while but it is invariably fun and we often reserve it for the evening when the forementioned spruced cocktails have taken full effect.
  4. Set up a photo booth! Photobooths are huge these days (check out lePartybooth, our sister site) and always a lot of fun. You can hire a pro (if you are hosting a larger event) or do it yourself with just a few fun Christmassy props and a red backdrop or themed backdrop. Use a tripod and frame the shot so that all the images are taken from the same angle and then get silly. If you want to make it even more fun, position your photobooth under the mistletoe (which brings me to me last suggestion).
  5. Hang lots of mistletoe! The ancient tradition of hanging mistletoe dates back to Viking times and like all traditions drawn from mythology, involves cruelty, death, resurrection and tears transforming something in nature to account for its current colour or shape (in this case red berries to white; google “why do we hang mistletoe” for more), but the best reason to hang mistletoe, and hang it in abundance, is the opportunity to kiss whomever is standing under it. Depending on who’s at your party, this can be cause for embarrassment or a reasonable excuse to finally make the move you’ve been planning. Just don’t be creepy with it please, as you know, Santa’s elves are always watching!

The allure of the photobooth Vs. portrait and event photography

In my experience as an event photographer of more than 10 years, I have observed a few patterns in how people behave in front of a camera.

During a private portrait session, most subjects will initially feel a little awkward, self conscious and uncomfortable. The majority will comment on how they don’t like photographs and more pointedly, don’t like the way they look in pictures. They will not know how to stand, or where to put their hands. Most will adopt some form of body language that indicates the camera is a threat. They will lean away from the camera, cock to one side, or lean back. The challenge of every portrait photographer is to help the subject quickly move past these natural insecurities and find their confidence zone, from which their real inner beauty emanates. Only then do good portraits begin to emerge.

Standard event photography presents different, but related behaviours and challenges. The photos that result from covering a live event are roughly 80% people in solo poses or groupings of two up to 10. The remaining 20% of shots will be room/scenic shots comprising overviews as well as close up details of the decor. Occasionally, and depending on the stage of the event (i.e. before or after the first round of cocktails have been consumed), you will have images of groups of people doing something a little out of the ordinary, maybe throwing their hands up in the air, or kicking out their legs like can-can dancers. But normally it is more of a documentary style image. The event photographer roams around the venue, snapping a few scenic shots of the room design, the food and floral arrangements and other elements of decor, while concentrating mainly on the people. If the room affords it, you may have a few aerial shots of the crowd but the bulk of the images will come from standing in front of one, two or larger groups of people standing together. Rarely will these images yield more than a simple visual description of who was in attendance and what they were wearing, though the skilled event photographer will also bring out out a sense of how they were feeling and the overall vibe of the event. It is the photographic equivalent of expository writing. The non-fiction account of who was there and what happened.

By contrast, photobooth photos are the poetry, or creative short story of an event. They are different from any other kind of photograph. The closest form to it would be a fashion shoot. Except in the case of photobooth style photos, there is no product being sold and no attempt by the photographer (subservient to the advertising executives who’ve ordered the shoot) to promote a specific message visually. In photobooth photos, you are literally creating your own photograph and the photographer is there to enable it and capture it for you. There is no other kind of photo where the subject has as much creative input–and fun–as in creating a photobooth photo. The photobooth image represents a real symbiosis between the photographer and the subject where the subject is directing the shoot, designing the look and articulating through the props they choose to wear and the scenes they choose to create, what the image is about. The photographer’s job is to capture the image as it unfolds in real time, knowing when to press the button and exactly what to keep in the frame.

Having taken tens of thousands of images in photo booth setups, I have observed a few interesting things going on. The photobooth is physically and psychologically a playspace where inhibitions and fears can be instantly shed. In the photobooth, people present a different version of themselves to be photographed. Sometimes it is perhaps the way they wish to be seen – the extrovert inside the introvert enjoying, for a few brief moments, the experience of being someone else. The shy person becomes the butterfly – sometimes literally if the right prop is at hand. Men seem to enjoy wearing bras over their suits for example. The “pimp/whore” motif is also quite popular as is playing with toy guns, either pointed at the camera or each other. (Personally, I don’t like the gun games and have edited them out of my props). Larger than life sunglasses are very popular as are wigs, preferably an unusual colour. People also really like throwing fake money up in the air. Age does not matter and older people in their eighties enjoy doffing a top hat or wearing a cat mask just as much as 2-year olds. Ultimately what the photobooth is, and what makes it such an enduring and alluring sensation at parties, is a space to play.

Regardless of age, status , gender, occupation, ethnicity, size or shape, given the right space and enough playthings, everyone just wants to play. And in times like these (worldwide economic crises, rising anxiety), having playful, harmless fun in a photobooth is something everyone can use more of.


Introducing lePartybooth.com

I’ve recently launched a brand new, ridiculously fun photo service to better serve my event and wedding clients setting up temporary, live-action, fun-filled photobooth style mini-studios at events. Working with my fellow photographer and brother, Daniel Francis Haber, we are proud to announce the Fall 2012 debut of our photobooth experience in Montreal: lePartybooth.com (you may have noticed the logo appearing on my homepage down below next to the Archives section). The service is sweet, simple and comes with a 100% smiles guarantee. We arrive at your event (wedding, anniversary or birthday party, office party –Halloween is coming up!, etc) and set up a mini studio. We bring the backdrops, the lights and more props than you can imagine (seasonally appropriate too) and take non-stop photos of you and your guests playing around. The results are a set of unforgettable images like those you’d make in an old-fashioned photobooth, except better, more fun, more dynamic, bigger and more extravagant.

Pictures are worth several thousand words in this case so I will simply invite you visit our site, our blog or meet us on Facebook if that’s where you prefer spending time online to see for yourself what we can do to put more party in your next party.