Do you want to start a photo booth business? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a photo booth business with NO money and no experience.

Okay, so we have provided you an in-depth sample photo booth business plan template. We also took it further by analyzing and drafting a sample photo booth marketing plan backed up by actionable guerrilla marketing ideas for photo booths. In this article, we will be considering all the requirements for starting a photo booth business. So put on your entrepreneurial hat and let’s proceed.

Why Start a Photo Booth Business?

Since the advent of photo booths in the United States of America, loads of entrepreneurs have becomes millionaires. If you are interested in photography but you don’t have the whole capital needed to launch a standard photo studio with state of the art equipment and facility, one of the coolest ways of making money is to open a photo booth in a busy street corner in your city.

Although this type of business is profitable, but you can run at a loss if your photo booth business is not well positioned and managed. It is important to state that loads of photo booths and even photo studios close shop because they failed to conduct detailed market survey and feasibility studies before launching the business. Your ability to re-strategize and always up your service delivery will help you stay competitive.

Starting a photo booth business also means that must have some plans in place; plans like how you intend to compete in the market, how you intend to make your business known to people, as well as other important factors that must not be overlooked.

Before launching this type of business, it will pay you carry out your due diligence as it relates to market research, economic and cost analysis and of course feasibility studies. If you get things right before launching your photo booth business, it will not take you long before you break even and start smiling to the bank.

So, if you want to start your own photo booth business, all you need to do is read this article and you will be well equipped. You can start your photo booth business from a small town in the United States and if you are consistent and creative, it won’t be too long before your brand becomes a nationally recognized especially if you go into franchising.

Starting a Photo Booth Business – A Complete Guide

  • Industry Overview

When we talk about photo booths which are popular in the United States of America, we are talking about a vending machine or contemporary kiosk that contains an automated, usually coin-operated camera and film processor. However, in recent time, a large percentage of photo booths that are operational in the United States are digital.

A large chunk of the photo booths you see around in the United States are used for passport photographs and they are coin-operated automated machines that are designed to print photographs in a specific format that meets the passport photograph requirements. Photo booths are designed in such a way that multiple copies can be printed so users can save some for future use.

Basically, a photo booth contains a seat or bench designed to seat the one or two clients being photographed. The seat is usually surrounded by a curtain of some sort to allow for some privacy and help avoid outside interference during the photo session. Once the payment is made by the client, the photo booth will take a series of photographs, although most modern photo booths may only take a single photograph and print out a series of identical pictures.

In the United States of America, both black and white and color photo booths are still in vogue, but in Europe, the color photo booth has almost entirely replaced black and white booths. However, newer digital booths now offer the customer the option of whether to print in color or in black and white.

Most modern photo booths use video or digital cameras instead of film cameras, and are under computer control. Some photo booths can also produce stickers, postcards, or other items with the photographs on them, rather than, or as well as a strip of pictures.

The photography industry of which photo booth business belongs to is indeed a very large industry and pretty much active in all the parts of the world. There are no company that has a dominate market share in the photo booth line of business, but Lifetouch is known to control an appreciable percentage of the market share in the overall photography industry in the United States of America.

Statistics has it that in the United States of America alone, there are about 185,075 registered and licensed photography related companies responsible for employing about 231,171 persons, and the industry rakes in a whooping sum of $10 billion annually. The industry is projected to enjoy a 2.6 percent annual growth.

The photo booth line of business will continue to blossom because people will always want to take pictures, especially passport photographs. Despite the fact that the industry seems over-saturated, there is still room big enough to accommodate aspiring entrepreneurs who intend opening their own photo booth business in the United States of America.

Over and above, the photography industry and photo booth line of business is a profitable industry and it is open for any aspiring entrepreneur to come in and establish his or her business; you can choose to start on a small scale in one or two public facilities or you can choose to start on a large scale with several outlets in key cities.

Starting a Photo Booth Business – Market Research and Feasibility Studies

  • Demographics and Psychographics

The demographic and psychographic composition of those who make use of the services offered by photo booths cut across all genders and age groups; hence the demographic composition for the photo booth business is all encompassing.

The truth is that when it comes to taking pictures and passport photos, there is indeed a wide range of available customers. In essence, your target market can’t be restricted to just a group of people, but all those that reside around the locations where you have your photo booths and who have the purchasing power.

List of Niche ideas Within the Photo Booth Business That You Can Specialize in

All photo booths tend to carry out services that have to do with taking photos; they are designed to print photographs in specific formats that meet passport photograph requirements. That is why it seem that there are no niche areas in the industry. But on the other hand, some photo booths may decide to major in some key areas such as;

  • Photo booth rentals
  • Traditional photo printing
  • Constructing guest book of photo strips
  • Online image hosting
  • Selling compact disks containing the images and related merchandise
  • produce stickers and postcards
  • Animated GIF
  • Flip book printing
  • Virtual props, placed intelligently on the person’s eyes or shoulders etc.
  • Slow-motion video
  • Green screen background removal
  • Fun costume virtual dressing
  • Games – mostly Kinect body gesture controlled games
  • Facial gesture recognition

The Level of Competition in the Photo Booth Line of Business

The truth is that no matter the level of competition in an industry, if you promote your products or business properly, you will always make headway in the industry. Just ensure that your booth is good at taking quality passport photos, you can deliver excellent customer care services and you know how to attract and reach out to your target market.

But over and above, there are several photo booths scattered all around the United States. So, if you choose to start your own photo booth business in the United States, you will definitely meet stiff competition amongst photo booths, photo studios and freelance (mobile) photographers that also take quick two minutes passport photographs. Besides, there are larger photo booth brands that determine the trends in the industry and you should be ready to compete with them for customers.

List of Well – Known Brands in the Photo Booth Industry

In every industry, there are always brands that perform better or are better regarded by customers and the general public than others. Some of these brands are those that have been in the industry for a long while and so are known for that, while others are best known for how they conduct their businesses and the results they have achieved over the years.

These are some of the leading photo booths in the United States of America and in the globe;

  • Sweet Booths Photo Booth
  • Chicago Photo Booth Company
  • Rocket Booths LLC.
  • Hipstr Photo Booth Rental
  • Seattle Photo Booths™
  • Kingdom Photo Booth
  • Photo Booth Frames USA
  • Time 2 Smile USA Photobooths
  • BloomBooth Photo Booths
  • Pose & Print USA Photo Booth
  • Fantasy Photo Booth Rental
  • Say Cheese Photo Booths
  • Photo Booth International
  • SocialLight Photo Booths DMV
  • Picture Perfect Photo Booths
  • Snapden Photo Booths
  • CO Photobooth
  • Texas Mirror Photobooth
  • MVS Studio New York – Photo Booths
  • Tap Photo Las Vegas – Open Air Photo Booths

Economic Analysis

If you are looking towards successfully launching a business and maximizing profits, then you need to ensure that you get your economic and cost analysis right and try as much as possible to adopt best practices in the industry you choose to build a business in.

Photo booth business is not a green business. As a matter of fact, you will come across several photo booths when you drive through town. So, if you are mapping out your economic analysis, you should carry out thorough market survey and costing of the required amount to rent a space where you are expected to install your photo booth or photo kiosk, the amount required to construct a decent photo booth and purchase photo supplies and also the cost to successfully run the business.

Over and above, if you are considering starting a photo booth business, then your concern should not be limited to the cost of renting a space to install your photo booth, but also on branding and on how to build a robust clientele base. The truth is that if you are able to build a robust clientele base, you are sure going to maximize profits in the business.

Starting Your Photo Booth Business from the Scratch versus Buying a Franchise

When it comes to starting a business of this nature, it will pay you to buy the franchise of a successful and well – established photo booth brand as against starting from the scratch. Even though it is relatively expensive to buy the franchise of an established photo booth brand, but it will definitely pay you in the long run.

But if you truly want to build your own brand after you must have proved your worth in the photography industry, then you might just want to start your own photo booth business from the scratch. The truth is that it will pay you in the long run to start your photo booth business from the scratch. Starting from the scratch will afford you the opportunity to conduct thorough market survey and feasibility studies before choosing a location to launch the business.

Please note that most of the big and successful photo booth businesses around started from the scratch and they were able to build a solid business brand.

Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face When Starting a Photo Booth Business

If you decide to start your own photo booth business today, one of the major challenges you are likely going to face is the presence of well – established photo booth businesses, photo studios, and freelance mobile photographers who also take 2 minutes passport photos. The only way to avoid this challenge is to create your own market.

Some other challenges and threats that you are likely going to face are economic downturn, unfavorable government policies and even advancement of technology (availability of smart phones that can take quality photos). There is nothing you can do as regards these threats and challenges other than to stay positive that things will work well for you.

Starting a Photo Booth Business – Legal Matters

  • Best legal entity to use for this type of business

Generally, you have the option of either choosing a general partnership, limited liability company which is commonly called an LLC, or a sole proprietorship for a business such as photo booth business. Ordinarily, sole proprietorship should have been the ideal business structure for a small scale photo booth business especially if you are just starting out with moderate startup capital in a small neighborhood and with just one outlet. But people prefer limited liability Company for some reasons.

As a matter of fact, if your intention is to grow the business and have chains of photo booths across the United States of America and other countries of the world via franchising, then choosing sole proprietorship is not an option for you. Limited Liability Company, LLC or even general partnership will cut it for you.

Setting up an LLC protects you from personal liability. If anything goes wrong in the business, it is only the money that you invested into the limited liability company that will be at risk. Limited liability companies are simpler and more flexible to operate and you don’t need a board of directors, shareholders meetings and other managerial formalities.

These are some of the factors you should consider before choosing a legal entity for your photo booth business; limitation of personal liability, ease of transferability, admission of new owners, investors’ expectation and of course taxes.

If you take your time to critically study the various legal entities to use for your photo booth business with the ability to sell franchise and open chains of photo booths all across the United States of America, you will agree that limited liability company; an LLC is most suitable. You can start this type of business as limited liability company (LLC) and in future convert it to a ‘C’ corporation or an ‘S’ corporation especially when you have the plans of going public. 

Catchy Business Name ideas Suitable for a Photo Booth Business

When it comes to choosing a name for your business, you should be creative because whatever name you choose for your business will go a long way to create a perception of what the business represents. Usually it is the norm for people to follow the trend in the industry they intend operating from when naming their business.

If you are considering starting your own photo booth business, here are some catchy names that you can choose from;

  • Corinthians Photo Booth®, LLC
  • Queen Monique Photo Booth, LLC
  • Photomanip Photo Booth, Inc.
  • Lindsay Holmes Phot Kiosk®, Inc.
  • All Size Photos® Photo Booth, Inc.
  • Peter Pan Photo Kiosk, Inc.
  • Clear Capture™ Photo Kiosk, Inc.
  • One Stop Shop Photo Booth, LLC
  • Irene Morgan Photo Kiosk, Inc.
  • Lasting Memory© Photo Booth, Inc.

Insurance Policies

In the United States and in most countries of the world, you can’t operate a business without having some of the basic insurance policy covers that are required by the industry you want to operate from. So, it is important to create a budget for insurance and perhaps consult an insurance broker to guide you in choosing the best and most appropriate insurance policies for your photo booth business.

Here are some of the basic insurance covers that you should consider purchasing if you want to start your own photo booth business in the United States of America;

  • General insurance
  • Health/Medical insurance
  • Liability insurance
  • Workers compensation
  • Overhead expense disability insurance
  • Business owner’s policy group insurance
  • Payment protection insurance

Intellectual Property Protection/Trademark

If you are considering starting your own photo booth business, usually you may not have any need to file for intellectual property protection/trademark. This is so because the nature of the business makes it possible for you to successfully run the business without having any cause to challenge anybody in court for illegally making use of your company’s intellectual properties.

Is Professional Certification Needed to Run a Photo Booth Business?

When it comes to operating a photo booth business, you do not need to have any formal training or special certification before you can be allowed to open and operate a photo booth business in the United States of America and in all countries of the world. All you need is informal training that will expose you to the in and out of operating a booth/camera and also how to effectively run the business.

List of Legal Documents You Need to Run a Photo Booth Business

These are some of the basic legal documents that you are expected to have in place if you want to legally run your own photo booth business in the United States of America;

  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • Business License
  • Tax Payer’s ID/Tax Identification Number
  • Copy of license for the service support facility and/or a recent inspection report
  • Business Plan
  • Non – disclosure Agreement
  • Employee Handbook
  • Employment Agreement (offer letters)
  • Operating Agreement for LLCs
  • Insurance Policy
  • Online Terms of Use (if you have a functional website)
  • Online Privacy Policy Document (basically for online payment portal)
  • Company Bylaws
  • Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
  • Building License
  • Franchise or Trademark License (optional)

Financing Your Photo Booth Business

Starting a photo booth business can be cost effective especially if you choose to start on a small scale by running a small photo booth business in a street corner. Securing a standard store facility and purchasing photo booth, printers, cameras, and other photo materials and supplies are part of what will consume a large chunk of your start – up capital.

If you choose to start the business on a large scale, you would need to go source for fund to finance the business because it is expensive to start a standard large – scale photo booth business with several outlets and over a handful of employees.

When it comes to financing a business, one of the major factors that you should consider is to write a good business plan. If you have a good and workable business plan document in place, you may not have to labor yourself before convincing your bank, investors and your friends to invest in your business.

Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for start – up capital for your photo booth business;

  • Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
  • Raising money from investors and business partners
  • Sell of shares to interested investors
  • Applying for loan from your bank
  • Pitching your business idea and applying for business grants and seed funding from donor organizations and angel investors
  • Source for soft loans from your family members and your friends

Choosing a Suitable Location for a Photo Booth Business

When it comes to choosing a location for your photo booth business, the rule of thumb is that you should be guided by the demand for such services and easy access to a large number of people especially job application centers and schools. Of course, if you are able to secure a central location for your photo booth business, it will give people easy access to locate your kiosk.

It cannot be overemphasized that the location you chose to start your photo booth business is key to the success of the business, hence entrepreneurs are willing to rent or lease a facility in a visible location; a location where the demography consists of people with the required purchasing power and lifestyle. If you make the mistake of renting or leasing a facility for your photo booth business in a not too visible or hidden location simply because it is cheap, then you must be prepared to spend more in promoting the business and perhaps giving direction to potential customers.

Most importantly, before choosing a location for your photo booth business, ensure that you first conduct a thorough feasibility studies and market survey. The possibility of you coming across similar business that just closed shop in the location you want to open yours can’t be ruled out.

These are some of the key factors that you should consider before choosing a location for your photo booth business;

  • The demography of the location
  • The demand for the services of photo booths in the location
  • The purchasing power of the residence of the location
  • Accessibility of the location
  • The number of photo booths, photo studios and mobile (freelance) photographers who also engage in taking passport photographs in the location
  • The local laws and regulations in the community
  • Traffic, parking and security

Starting a Photo Booth Business – Technical and Manpower Details

On the average, there are no special technologies or equipment needed to run this type of business except for the photo booth itself. As a matter of fact, most modern photo booths use video or digital cameras instead of film cameras, and are under computer control. You will also need film processors, automated coin machine, photo printers, computers, internet facility, telephone, fax machine and office furniture (chairs, tables and shelves) amongst other and all these can be gotten as fairly used.

As regards leasing or outright purchase of a photo booth facility, the choice is dependent on your financial standing, but the truth is that to be on the safe side, it is advisable to start off with a short term rent/lease while test running the business in the location. If things work out as planned, then you go on a long – term lease or outright purchase of the property but if not, then move on and source for other ideal location/facility that can support the growth of the business.

When it comes to hiring employees for a standard photo booth business with more than one outlet, you should make plans to hire a competent Chief Executive Officer (you can occupy this role), Admin and Human Resources Manager, Photo Booth Operators, Accounting Clerk, Customer Services Executives and Cleaners. On the average, you will need a minimum of 5 to 10 key staff members to run a medium – scale but standard photo booth business with more than one outlet.

The Business Services Process Involved in the Photo Booth Business

When it comes to the business services process of a photo booth business, there are no hard and fast rules about it. Basically, when the photo booth is up and running, customers who want to take pictures can walk in, give the description of what they want to the photo booth operator and if the photo booth has automated coin machine, then the customer is expected to insert his or her coin in the automate coin machine, then sit for a photo shot. Adjustments are done where necessary by the photo booth operator.

Once the photo session is done, the pictures are sent to the film process and in the case of modern digital photo booths, the pictures can be photoshopped and if the client is ok with it, then the picture will be printed, packaged and handed over to the customer. Usually all this is expected to be done within the shortest time possible when compared to the regular photo studio/photo lab process.

It is important to state that a photo booth business may decide to improvise or adopt any business process and structure that will guarantee them efficiency and flexibility; the above stated photo booth business process is not cast on stone.

Starting a Photo Booth Business – The Marketing Plan

  • Marketing ideas and strategies

Running a business requires that you should be proactive when it comes to marketing your goods or services. If you choose to launch a photo booth business, then you must go all out to employ strategies that will help you attract customers or else you will likely struggle with the business because there are well – known brands that determine the market direction for the photography industry cum photo booth business.

Your marketing strategy should center on attention to quality, swiftness, safety, pricing, thoroughness, and above all excellent customer service. You should ensure that whenever your customers visit your photo booth, they would get quality photos and excellent service. The truth is that if you are able to put the above stated, you won’t struggle to retain your old customers and at the same time win over new customers.

These are some of the marketing ideas and strategies that you can adopt for your photo booth business;

  • Introduce your photo booth by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to corporate organizations, car owners, taxi companies, applicants, event planners, transport companies, households, sports organizations, gyms, schools and other key stakeholders throughout the city where your photo booth is located.
  • Advertise on the internet on blogs and forums, and also on social media like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn to get your message across so that those on the social media or those who read blogs will know where to go when they need to take quick pictures and passport photographs within your location
  • Create a basic website for your business so as to give your business an online presence
  • Directly market your products
  • Engage in road shows in targeted communities from time to time to promote your photo booth business
  • Join local photo booth business associations for industry trends and tips
  • Provide discount days for your customers
  • Advertise our business in community based newspapers, local TV and radio stations
  • List your business on yellow pages ads (local directories)
  • Encourage the use of word of mouth marketing (referrals)

Factors That Will Help You Get the Right Product Pricing

One key factor that will help you offer your photo booth services at rock bottom prices is to purchase your photography supplies directly from wholesalers in pretty large quantities. The truth is the higher the quantity of items that you purchase directly from wholesalers, the cheaper you tend to get them.

Another strategy that will help you offer your photo booth services at the right price is to ensure that you cut operational cost to the barest minimum, and channel your efforts towards marketing and promoting your brand name. Aside from the fact that this strategy will help you save cost, it will also help you get the right pricing for your products.

Strategies to Boost Your Photo Booth Brand Awareness and Create Your Corporate Identity

If your intention of starting a photo booth business is to grow the business beyond the city where you are going to be operating from to become a national and international brand by opening chains of photo booths and franchising, then you must be ready to spend money on promotion and advertisement of your brand.

No matter the industry you belong to, the truth is that the market is dynamic and it requires consistent brand awareness and brand boosting cum promotion to continue to appeal to your target market. Here are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your brand awareness and create corporate identity for your photo booth business;

  • Place adverts on both print (newspapers and relevant magazines) and electronic media platforms
  • Sponsor relevant community based events
  • Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google + et al to promote your photo booth business
  • Install your billboards in strategic locations all around your city or state
  • Engage in roadshows from time to time in targeted neighborhoods to create awareness of your photo booth business
  • Distribute your fliers and handbills in target areas
  • Contact corporate organizations, car owners, taxi companies, applicants, event planners, transport companies, households, sports organizations, gyms, schools, socialites, celebrities and other key stakeholders throughout the city where your photo booth is located informing them about your photo booth business and the services your offer
  • List your photo booth business in local directories
  • Advertise your photo booth business in your official website and employ strategies that will help you pull traffic to the site
  • Position our Flexi Banners at strategic positions in the location where photo booth business is located
  • Ensure that all your staff members wear your branded shirts and all your vehicles and trucks / vans are well branded with your company logo et al.