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How to Start a Photo Booth Business

Written by:

Natalie is a business writer with experience in operations, HR, and training & development within the software, healthcare, and financial services sectors.

Edited by:

David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.

How to Start a Photo Booth Business

Fast Facts

Investment range

$4,875 - $11,950

Revenue potential

$65,000 - $130,000 p.a.

Time to build

0 - 3 months

Profit potential

$58,000 - $84,000 p.a.

Industry trend

Growing

Commitment

Flexible

Who doesn’t love photo booths? It’s a chance to have some fun and make memories that could last a lifetime, which is why the US industry is booming – forecast for stunning 16% annual growth the next five years. 

There are two different kinds of photo booths – the old-school machines you’ll find in arcades, bars and entertainment centers, and the customizable mobile booths popular at weddings and other major events. This article focuses on the latter, but you could also run an old-fashioned photo booth business. 

With enhanced features like video and social media sharing, mobile booths help party-goers turn beautiful moments into shareable memories, and they also generate strong revenue. But before you go all-in, you’ll need to learn what it takes to start and run a business. 

Luckily, this step-by-step guide has all the information you’ll need to launch your business – and maybe become a photo booth mogul! 

Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You

Pros and cons

Before starting a photo booth business, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons.

Pros

  • Flexibility – Run a mobile business, set your own hours
  • Fulfilling Work – Make memories and moments of magic
  • Good Money – Charge up to $200 per hour

Cons

  • Stiff Competition – You’ll need to stand out from established companies
  • Ongoing Maintenance – A lot of pricey equipment to maintain

Photo Booth industry trends

Industry size and growth

photo booth industry size and growth

Trends and challenges

photo booth industry Trends and Challenges

Trends in the photo booth industry include:

  • New technology allows for an expanded photo booth experience. Some platforms even allow guests to create customized animated GIFs!
  • DIY photo booths are a cheaper, lower maintenance alternative to full-service photo booths. Customers can rent a booth and take their own photos. 

Challenges in the photo booth industry include:

  • The photo booth industry is highly competitive. Creativity and a solid marketing plan are required to set yourself apart from other businesses.
  • Photo booth equipment is expensive and needs to be maintained for your business to run smoothly. If your equipment is broken, you won’t be able to generate revenue. 

What kind of people work in the photo booth industry?

photo booth industry demographics

How much does it cost to start a photo booth business?

Startup costs for a photo booth business are between $5,000 and $12,000. The average cost is around $7,000. Main expenses include purchasing photo backdrops and props, camera, and related equipment. 

You’ll need a handful of items to successfully launch your photo booth business, including: 

  • Photo backdrops
  • Camera
  • Laptop
  • Software
  • Props
Start-up CostsBallpark RangeAverage
Licenses and permits$100-$300$200
Insurance$100-$300$200
Marketing and advertising$500-$1,000$750
Website$1,000-$3,000$2,000
Photo Booth$1,500-$3,000$2,500
Software$150-$250$200
Camera and Equipment$1,500-$4,000$2,750
Props$25-$100$62
Total$4,875-$11,950$8,412

How much can you earn from a photo booth business?

photo booth business earnings forecast

Photo booth services usually charge by the hour with a set minimum and range from $125 to $200. Your starting profit margin should be around 90%. 

In your first year or two, you could run your business from home and charge $125 per hour. If you work two five-hour events per week, you’d bring in $65,000 in annual revenue. This would translate into a profit of $58,000, assuming that 90% margin. 

As you build a reputation and book more events, you could double your business and work four events per week. At this point, you’d hire another employee and purchase more equipment, reducing your profit margin to around 65%. With annual revenue of $130,000, you’d still wind up with an impressive profit of $84,000. 

What barriers to entry are there?

There are a couple barriers to entry when it comes to a photo booth business. Your biggest challenges will be:

  • Ongoing equipment maintenance costs
  • Drawing clients away from existing photo booth companies

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Step 2: Hone Your Idea

develop a business idea

Now that you know what’s involved in starting a photo booth business, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market. 

Market research will give you the upper hand, even if you’re already positive that you have a perfect product or service. Conducting market research is important, because it can help you understand your customers better, who your competitors are, and your business landscape.

Why? Identify an opportunity

Research photo booth companies online and in your area to examine their services, price points, and customer reviews. You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the local market is missing a photo booth business with unique extra features, like video capabilities or customized animations.

You might consider targeting a niche market by specializing in a certain aspect of your industry, like children’s birthday parties or corporate events.

This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away. 

What? Determine your services

You’ll be providing photo booth services for customers at special events. You could also offer added services like video, GIFs and social media sharing. Choosing a specific niche or type of event could help narrow down your target market. 

How much should you charge for photo booth services?

Many photo booth businesses charge for their services by the hour, from around $125 up to $200, depending on services and features. Check out the local market to make sure your rates are competitive. 

Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.

Who? Identify your target market

Your target market will be broad and include people planning parties, events, and weddings. Social media sites like LinkedIn are perfect for networking with corporate event planners who may need your services. You can also advertise your services on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. 

Where? Choose your business premises

Photo booth businesses travel to on-site events and venues and you can run operations mobily. As your business grows, you’ll likely need to hire workers for various roles and may need to rent out an office. You can find commercial space to rent in your area on sites such as Craigslist, Crexi, and Instant Offices.

When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:

  • Central location accessible via public transport
  • Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
  • Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
  • Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
photo booth business idea rating

Step 3: Brainstorm a Photo Booth Company Name

Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:

  • Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
  • Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better 
  • Name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
  • Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
  • Including keywords, such as “photo booth” or “photo booth rental”, boosts SEO
  • Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “Flashy Photos” over “Wedding Snaps”
  • A location-based name can help establish a strong connection with your local community and help with the SEO but might hinder future expansion

Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these. 

Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that sets your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.

Step 4: Create a Photo Booth Business Plan

Here are the key components of a business plan:

what to include in a business plan
  • Executive Summary: A concise summary of the photo booth business plan, outlining its objectives, market opportunity, and key strategies.
  • Business Overview: A brief description of the photo booth business, including its mission, vision, and the problem it aims to solve in the market.
  • Product and Services: Detailed information on the photo booth services offered, including features, packages, and any unique selling points.
  • Market Analysis: A comprehensive examination of the target market for the photo booth business, including demographics, trends, and potential growth opportunities.
  • Competitive Analysis: An evaluation of competitors in the photo booth industry, highlighting strengths, weaknesses, and positioning strategies.
  • Sales and Marketing: Strategies for promoting and selling the photo booth services, encompassing pricing, distribution channels, and promotional activities.
  • Management Team: Profiles of key individuals responsible for managing and leading the photo booth business, showcasing their relevant skills and experience.
  • Operations Plan: A plan detailing the day-to-day operations of the photo booth business, covering equipment, logistics, and any partnerships or key suppliers.
  • Financial Plan: A comprehensive overview of the financial aspects of the photo booth business, including revenue projections, expenses, and funding requirements.
  • Appendix: Additional supporting documents, such as resumes of key team members, detailed market research data, or any other supplementary information relevant to the photo booth business plan.

If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist to create a top-notch business plan for you.

Step 5: Register Your Business

Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.

Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business! 

Choose where to register your company

Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you are planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to photo booth businesses. 

If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state. 

Choose your business structure

Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your photo booth business will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely. 

Here are the main options:

types of business structures
  • Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
  • General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
  • C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
  • S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just need to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.

We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using an online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have. 

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Step 6: Register for Taxes

The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN. 

Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.

The IRS website also offers a tax-payers checklist, and taxes can be filed online.

It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you are completing them correctly.

Step 7: Fund your Business

Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:

types of business financing
  • Bank loans: This is the most common method but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
  • SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
  • Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
  • Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
  • Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
  • Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.

Bank and SBA loans are probably the best option, other than friends and family, for funding a photo booth business. You might also try crowdfunding if you have an innovative concept.  

Step 8: Apply for Licenses and Permits

Business Licenses and Permits

Starting a photo booth business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments.

Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits. 

You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more. 

You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.

This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.

If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.

Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account

Before you start making money, you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account.

Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your photo booth business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.

Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account. 

Step 10: Get Business Insurance

Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.

Here are some types of insurance to consider:

types of business insurance
  • General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
  • Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
  • Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
  • Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
  • Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
  • Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
  • Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
  • Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of the above insurance types.

Step 11: Prepare to Launch

Launching a Business

As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business. 

Essential software and tools

Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks.  

You may want to use industry-specific software, such as Breeze, Darkroom, or DSLRBooth to print photos, add special effects, and allow customers to share photos on social media. 

Accounting

  • Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero
  • If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.

Develop your website

Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism.

You can create your own website using services like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.

They are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google. 

Marketing

Here are some powerful marketing strategies for your future business:

  • Social Media: Leverage the power of social media platforms by regularly posting engaging and shareable content, showcasing your best photo booth moments, and running targeted ad campaigns to reach potential clients.
  • Partnerships with Event Planners: Forge partnerships with event planners and coordinators to become their go-to photo booth provider, offering them a commission for each referral, ensuring a steady stream of bookings.
  • Influencer Collaborations: Identify local influencers or event-related personalities and collaborate with them to showcase your photo booth at their events, gaining exposure to their followers and establishing credibility.
  • Themed Packages and Promotions: Create themed packages or promotions for specific occasions (weddings, birthdays, corporate events) to attract a niche market and encourage bookings for a variety of events.
  • Customer Referral Program: Implement a referral program where satisfied customers can earn discounts or exclusive add-ons for referring your photo booth services, turning happy clients into brand ambassadors.
  • Limited-Time Offers: Generate a sense of urgency by periodically offering limited-time discounts or special packages, encouraging potential clients to book your services sooner rather than later.
  • Community Events Participation: Attend local community events, fairs, or markets to set up a mini photo booth and engage with the community directly, offering on-the-spot bookings and distributing promotional materials.
  • Email Marketing Campaigns: Build an email list and send out regular newsletters featuring your latest work, promotions, and upcoming events to keep your audience informed and engaged.
  • Cross-Promotions with Vendors: Collaborate with other event-related vendors (caterers, florists, DJs) to cross-promote each other’s services, expanding your reach within the events industry.
  • Customer Testimonials and Case Studies: Showcase customer testimonials and create case studies highlighting successful events where your photo booth played a key role, providing social proof and building trust with potential clients.

Focus on USPs

unique selling proposition

Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your photo booth business meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire. 

Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your photo booth business could be:

  • Photo booths are great fun for the whole family!
  • Curate and capture your corporate event with fantastic photos
  • Draw a crowd with shareable, top-quality photos, videos and GIFs!  

Networking

You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a photo booth business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in photography or special events for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections. 

The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in photo booth services. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. 

Step 12: Build Your Team

Building a Team for a New Business

If you’re starting out small from a home office, you may not need any employees. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a photo booth business include:

  • Photo Booth Operator – Take photos, troubleshoot equipment issues
  • Marketing Lead – Manage social media accounts, generate leads
  • General Manager – Book events, order supplies, customer service

At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need. 

Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent. 

Step 13: Run a Photo Booth Business – Start Making Money!

Running a Business

Photo booths make special events all the more special, offering a chance for guests to share and bring home great memories. With your own photo booth business you could help people create moments they’ll cherish forever while making amazing money at the same time!

Now that you know what it takes to succeed, it’s time to start the photo booth business of your dreams.

Photo Booth Business FAQs

Is a photo booth business profitable?

Yes, a photo booth business can be very profitable. You’ll need to keep your equipment in good working condition and spend adequate time marketing your business to book events.

What are the weaknesses of photo booth business?

The weaknesses of a photo booth business include high initial investment costs, limited revenue opportunities, seasonal fluctuations in demand, competition from other businesses, and dependence on event planners for bookings.

How do you run a successful photo booth?

To run a successful photo booth, focus on investing in high-quality equipment, marketing your business effectively, establishing partnerships with event planners, offering customizable packages, and providing excellent customer service.

How can I differentiate my photo booth business from competitors in the market?

To differentiate your photo booth business from competitors, consider specializing in a specific niche, offering unique features or experiences, providing value-added services, showcasing your portfolio and customer testimonials, and developing a strong online presence.

What types of events can a photo booth business cater to?

A photo booth business can cater to a variety of events, such as weddings, corporate events, parties, graduations, trade shows, fundraisers, holiday parties, bar/bat mitzvahs, proms, and family reunions.

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How to Start a Photo Booth Business