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My best friend is getting married in one week. He asked me to set up a photo booth near the reception so that people can take pictures of themselves using funny accessories. The photo booth should be set up inside the reception hall. I don't know the place and I do not know how much light there will be. The pictures are to be taken using a simple Polaroid. The Polaroid is equipped with a small flash but if the light becomes lower as the night comes, can I rely on a Polaroid flash or should we rent a flash umbrella ? In my opinion, the flash umbrella would ensure better lighting in low light situations. What is your opinion?

  • Are you talking about their instant cameras or a P&S? – SailorCire May 7 '15 at 0:16
  • Which Polaroid camera will you be using? During their history Polaroid produced quite a number of cameras models. – ADoePhoto May 13 '15 at 19:47
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Taking polaroids at wedding receptions is nice.

There are some things that you should be aware of:

  • There's no polaroid film available any more. You can get modern film from the impossible project, but it does not develop as quickly as the original polaroid film. Waiting a long time for a polaroid image kind of defeats the point of using that technology.
  • Fuji offers film in different formats. The instax wide is quite tempting for a wedding reception, because often people come in groups (families, couples, friends...), which are easier to frame in a horizontal format (compared to square polaroid). Take a look at it and see if that would work for you. In my experience, people don't bother about the aspect ratio being different to the original polaroid.
  • Sharing pictures is difficult. Taking interesting images will lead to questions like "can we all have a copy of that image?" But with instant film, there's only one image. If you want to give those photos to the people, the entire group will only have on original. If these photos go into a guest book at the reception, this is not a problem, but keep it in mind, because people want to have copies of those images.
  • Consider shooting digital and using a small photo printer.

I don't know the place and I do not know how much light there will be

Make yourself familiar with the place. Consider this a studio. You should create as much light as you need. Make yourself familiar with the camera that you are using and take a few test shots.

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Sure, some sort of "proper" lighting setup will give you better results than on camera flash... but as your friend is wanting photos of people with funny accessories on a polaroid camera, I suspect that he's not after your traditional formal portraits. Keep it simple, go with the on-camera flash and concentrate on getting fun images which capture the guests enjoying themselves rather than worrying about anything else.

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I've done a few booths so far, with a fixed lighting system and some on-camera flashs, and I havent had it even once where the fixed lighting was actually used. The scenery of these images change so often that you should not worry about it, from single pictures to 6+ groups you will see everything and as the day passes (and probably the more booze is involved), the trashier those images get. Its a lot of fun, but keep it simple, the on-camera flash will suffice, people will not care about 'setting up a perfect shot'. What you might want to check, if you can set up some additional static lighting (ambient) if it should turn out to be a dark corner.

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Unless you're trying to achieve professional-quality lighting, yes.

If you are considering any kind of external lighting keep in mind that no P&S is going to properly compensate for an external strobe, so any supplemental lighting would need to be constant or you'll have a lot of blown out photos and frustrated photo-takers. If you want people to use their own cameras as well (like smart phones with weak flashes) then provide some additional (subtle) lighting as needed. Otherwise the on-camera flash can really help the candid nature of the photos and take pressure off of the people taking the photos. Professional equipment (even if in appearance only) can be intimidating if there isn't someone to operate it.

The last wedding I attended had a photo "booth" area, but didn't even provide a camera, encouraging patrons to use their own cameras and share the photos later. I think providing a P&S would have been good for the wedding party to get additional casual photos for their wedding collection.

Another friend had an actual rented photo booth which saved the photos for the wedding party, but also printed the photos immediately for the people taking them. This would obviously be rather complex to setup if not renting something already made to do so.

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