I am to set up a photo booth at a local fair. I will have a different subject every few minutes. I am to email them their photo afterwards. How would you keep track of each photo to each customer to each email?

I have a form for them to fill out (name, email, etc...) but I'm very nervous that I'll shoot a person and their photo will get emailed to the wrong person. If I mess up even one then they will all be messed up.

How do school photographers keep track of students? Since it will be sort of like that. I know they write names on a piece of paper, but is there an actual piece of equipment for this?

Any input would be appreciated. Usually I shoot one client and there's no need for this extra organization.

  • 2
    Most photo booths have the ability to print on the spot and give the print to the patron in person.
    – Michael C
    Oct 19, 2015 at 14:55
  • 1
    This question is similar to, if not a duplicate of photo.stackexchange.com/questions/42983/… (I guess it's not an exact duplicate because that question asks about how to put the photos on a password-protected website) Oct 19, 2015 at 16:21
  • 1
    @MichaelClark It's the future. Not many people want prints anymore... even when they do want a print, most will likely want a digital "original" as well. (Curious how prints have now become "copies" and digital is "original"... how things change, hey?)
    – J...
    Oct 19, 2015 at 16:47
  • I don't know what they do now, but when I was in school, the photographer used a camera that imaged from two locations at once, putting a copy of the print order form on the film next to the picture.
    – Mark
    Oct 19, 2015 at 19:47

13 Answers 13


I'd use a pad of paper or a whiteboard, let them write contact info on it with a marking pen, and take a photo of each person holding it during their photo shoot (like a mug shot). That's what I did for a church directory a while back. Low tech. I probably wouldn't have done it with film, but an extra digital image doesn't cost much.

  • 3
    I've seen the same done with a whiteboard. Oct 19, 2015 at 21:19
  • I do something very much like this all the time at dog shows. Each handler showing a dog wears a paper slip with the dog's catalogue number while showing the dog. I take a photo of that slip as well as get myself a show catalog, which gives me almost instant access to the full details for both the dog and owner. If it's a critical shot I can ask the handler to make sure the number they are displaying matches that of the dog I'm photographing (people who show multiple dogs are, very occasionally, lazy about this; usually, show officials ensure that the error is corrected in short order).
    – user
    Oct 20, 2015 at 18:33
  • That was my first thought, too. You can even style it as an actual mug shot (bring a chalk- or whiteboard?) if the occasion is somewhat compatible to lighthearted fun in the booth. (From experience I can say that the original clients may even appreciate having these photos as well. The son/cousin/aunt who gets to prepare the physical album does not know who everybody is either...)
    – Raphael
    Oct 21, 2015 at 16:37
  • @JamesSnell I edited your suggestion (whiteboard) into my answer. Oct 21, 2015 at 19:08
  • This. Mugshots was the first thing that came to mind, since that's basically what they do too.
    – corsiKa
    Oct 21, 2015 at 20:10

Most cameras allow an image review mode immediately after shooting, and some let you choose to display info overlaying the image, including the image number or file name.

Have each person fill out a line on the sign in sheet with their contact info, and leave a column for you to fill in the number of the image for them. If you take multiple shots per person or group, you only need one as you can look at images before and after that one later.

  • 1
    This opens up good automation possibilities because now you have something tying the persons information to an image file name. The drawback is if you loose the sign-up sheet or sheets, you have nothing to go on.
    – JPhi1618
    Oct 19, 2015 at 19:19
  • 1
    @JPhi1618 Yes, but I regularly take pictures of all my documentation with my phone or camera anyway so if murphy's law gets invoked I've got a backup.
    – Adam Davis
    Oct 19, 2015 at 19:33

Will these be paying customers?

The last conference I was at, the photos were posted publicly on Twitter. Obviously, the people being shot were not the customers. The conference was the main customer. And the entire point of posting these pictures on Twitter was to generate social media buzz about the conference (while at the same time providing an easy way for people to get their picture).

but is there an actual piece of equipment for this?

Yes, you could have some fun with these.

enter image description here

Obviously, a chalkboard or a white board could work as well.

enter image description here

See also this example and this one.

But if you do go the handwritten route, whether you do it on a board or on paper, do note that some email addresses will be undecipherable or just plain wrong. That's just the nature of the medium.

And do note that if you do things sequentially, some things are bound to get out of sequence. People are bound to skip a row, or skip a page by mistake. Obviously, it would be a great help if you had an assistant who would help with the registration process. And if you had three or four whiteboards/chalkboards ready to go for people to fill out while waiting.


Photograph the form just before the person. It doesn't have to be high quality, just readable.
Optionally, have some other bookend at the end of that client's shoot, like a blank sheet, black card, or fun object, if you don't trust your own discipline to always shoot the next client's form before the client, or if you might have some "other" photos interspersed.

With a digital camera, you're not wasting film doing that.

You also get the benefit of a backup for the forms if something happens and your forms get dropped, scattered, out of order, or become inaccessible to you.


What you're doing is similar to what the photographers at places like theme parks do. They just give the customer a slip of paper with the shot number and any other necessary information, to be entered in a web form or taken to a central location for printing.

The process is very quick, because the tickets can be preprinted (and if not they're quick to write at the time). Any shots discarded just mean discarding the matching ticket. This should be a small number because it will hit your throughput if you're doing a lot of reviewing.

This system does put the onus on the subject to keep their ticket and check online. This is usually a good thing, but might not always be. It also means you don't have anyone's personal information unless/until you really need it.


Try any of those methods and it could end up a mess. You need a database {filemaker} and applescript all custom written for your workflow. Write name and email in database Take pictures tethered. Review in Lightroom. Choose picture. Export to upload folder. Folder action emails to client.

Welcome to my world!

To do this type of job professionally and without mistake is no easy task. I have regularly done this sort of work (the most recent was 2000 kids using 6 different photographers.) You need a way to retain the info for the child and relate it to their images. A relational database is really the only answer. Once you have their info related to their images you can do loads of interesting stuff. This though is not for the faint hearted. In brief (and over simplified) you have to write (in Filemaker on a Mac, it does not work on a PC) a relational database that links client data and the image data (filenames.) You need a way to get the images from the card (folder), rename them, create folders and put them in a folder for the client. This is all done by writing a Applescript (google that!) So once you have finished shooting your client you press the button and hey presto you have a folder with the clients name on and the images renamed in that folder. Because you have the clients info in the database you can extract that as a .csv file with the images and upload that to your web server. From there you can get your web programmer to create a script to read the .csv file , create a client area, put the images in there and email out the client with a link to it. All this is achieved with a one button click.

Obviously if you only do one shoot like this every now and then this method is overkill but if you seriously want to get into work then its only way forward. Enjoy researching it!

  • It would also be great if you can elaborate on why the OP would "need" a computerized database. Lots of people are going various manual routes and it's obviously working fine.
    – user
    Oct 20, 2015 at 18:29
  • I see no reasons why a relational database is required. There is a single table...
    – Gusdor
    Oct 22, 2015 at 6:57
  • @Gusdor A single table is too limiting. Clients are related to their images by way of a unique ID. Each image is a separate record on the database
    – John Clark
    Oct 22, 2015 at 7:52
  • I know how an RD works John. You still don't need a relationship to do what you describe. Especially if clients will be providing contact information for each shoot.
    – Gusdor
    Oct 22, 2015 at 7:54
  • @Gusdor I hear what your saying and yes in a most simplistic way you could do the job with a simple table. My 'roving' database ties in with my main database which links client details, retouching orders, the clients agent etc etc so that s why I use a RD that I import into my main database
    – John Clark
    Oct 22, 2015 at 12:40

Your issue seems to be that you are anxious about forgetting to enter the details for single patron and getting all the following details out of sequence.

A simple technique to use here is to abandon any notion of sequence and work on something absolute.

Time stamp the details.

After the patron has filled in their details, write the current time on it as displayed on your camera. I would hope that the camera also stamps each photo with the time.

Afterwards, you can simply line up the two data sets. They will not be perfect but the sequence should be obvious.


You do not want to be the one who makes a mistake. Do not make this hard: I always say move the problem to where it is no longer a problem.

As I see it, you as a photographer are not the right person for that job, the client / class teacher / foremen / boss / HR colleague aught to know the faces. Let them supply that info.

Delegate: Delegate this to the right person for the job, someone that can identify the group on that photo. Give him/her a copy with numbered (!) faces. Let him/her return a name+address list with those numbers. If they're not bright, you make the form that they have to complete.

Backup plan: crowdsource. If you don't know that person, crowdsource this by giving the (marked, numbered) photo to everyone, with a form.

This is an easy workflow, no risk, doesn't cost you time, and above all it's professional.

  • 1
    This seems the best answer. Also, it's not necessary for your delegate to know every person in the group -- if you keep track of the order in which you photograph people, the delegate can spot-check to make sure the sequence remains correct.
    – Caleb
    Oct 20, 2015 at 12:28

Additionally, optionally, you can also add "audio notes" or "voice annotations" to pictures. My camera has that feature, but I rarely use it.

So just speak the name of the subject before, or at the time of shooting. You do not have to do this for all shots. Maybe every fifth shot or so. Helps to keep subjects in sync.


I once wrote software for school photographers, and I see it's still online.


With this you can create barcodes and stick that to their card where they fill out their email. Then you can link the barcode to the picture you take.


I just returned from a cruise vacation. Photographers there had a phone mounted to their camera and connected via USB port. After every shot they asked for a cabin number, they then entered on the phone. I'm not sure how it worked, maybe they just paired notes taken on the phone with a picture by a timestamp or maybe they were uploading pictures from camera to the phone automatically and tagging them after each shot. Sometimes they didn't ask for a cabin number and just used face recognition sw to sort photos to every cabin.

That being said, maybe there is a consumer grade solution for your problem already.

  • I've seen that system on board a cruise and asked how it worked. According to the photographer I was chatting with the camera is running in tethered shooting mode, and the software is pulling the image off the camera, attaching the room number in a header and shoving a thumbnail across the ship's wifi with that data. It also stores it on the phone if they're away from the ship's wifi. Then when they dump the memory card, they have software that matches the thumbnails with the data to the full sized images.
    – cabbey
    Nov 4, 2015 at 2:38

I am School Photographer and there is a few different techniques I use.

Technique 1: We use Bespoke Software which Tethers our Laptop to the Camera we then have a spreadsheet of names. Each photo is then associated to the name.

Technique 2: We use essentially a blank spreadsheet. Each person writes down there name and class. Then we write down their corresponding picture filename.


I have 2 concerns about this kind of situations.

1) That the photo has the right identifier. A number, a whiteboard, a tag. Just remember to take a wider shot with the identifier.

Use the clothing as an additional description (Example, Red shirt with squares). Do not rely on your face recognition capabilities.

2) That the client actually writes the email correctly.

So, have them write the data on a computer, a laptop, a Tab with a keyboard. An assistant is a good "asset". You do not take a picture if the data is not filled. You can do a Worksheet (But keep saving the data). If you have a wifi connection you can use an online spreadsheet like Google docs.

A School portrait day could be easier because the school can provide you with a list of each group. But you need to identify each photo as well the order in which the kids are passing. You can call them in the right order (Or use the identifier)

Give the client a method contact you. Give him a business card with "Client a number" which can be written by hand using the row of the excel table. So he can contact you in case he does not receive the mail (bounced one perhaps?).

Or can be pre-printed with a random set of numbers/letters. A web developer can prepare a simple script so that identifier send you to a folder on your web page, where the specific photos of that client are.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.