Photo booth market size is set to grow at a 16% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2021 to 2027. This is according to a study published by Global Market Insights (GMI), a Delaware-based market research firm. Valued at $400 million worldwide in 2020, the projected double-digit growth of the event photography business is partially due to loosening Covid restrictions on public gatherings and high demand for capturing moments at weddings, corporate meetings and other social events.
The study also credits a sharp rise in social media users over recent years, boosting the demand for the instant capture and upload of photos from social events.
“As of January 2021, there were around four billion social media users globally,” according to GMI, “representing about 50% of the total global population. Photo booths enable users to quickly, easily and securely upload photos, videos and animated GIFs directly to their social media accounts.”
It’s clear the desire to share events via social media enhances consumer and business demand. Moreover, improved technology—from high-resolution DSLR cameras to high-quality printers and sophisticated software—is meeting the demand for corporate branding events as well as large and small social events.
The Photo Booth Market: A Case in Point
One photo booth company has managed to meet all the requirements: Button It Up Photo Booths of Atlanta, Georgia.
“We pride ourselves on being a one-stop shop,” says the owner, Joel Miller. “No one wants to have five photo booth vendors. So, we make sure we offer whatever services our clients might want. We also pride ourselves on being the easiest company to work with. Our clients are often planning massive events and they need to focus their energy on catering, décor, logistics, etc. We try to make it easy for them by being responsive, organized and staying one step ahead of them.”
Founded in 1987 by Miller’s mother-in-law, Sharon Hochdorf, Button It Up began as a home business providing photo buttons for bar mitzvahs. Over the next three decades, the small company grew to a thriving business that served everything from birthday parties to weddings and large corporate events.
“We now offer 15 different services,” says Miller. “As a result, we have acquired dozens of loyal clients and partners in the industry that provide us with a large chunk of our business.”
Button It Up services include everything from photo strips to digital uploads, flip books, imaging edibles and 3D lenticular prints from GIFs. Booth options include traditional, roaming, mirror and video, as well as vogue booths for the “ultimate red-carpet experience.” Miller’s pride is a one-of-a-kind mirror room with 360º mirrors.
One of the company’s most popular products—especially for multiday events and large corporate meetings—is the Photo Mosaic Wall. The client choses an image, phrase or logo that represents the company or event and submits it to the Button It Up staff for processing. Photo Mosaic software then creates a poster-size template (usually 48×48 inches or larger) for attaching small, colorized photos, or tiles, to fill the template and complete the mosaic.
“The photos can come from anywhere—our on-site photo booths or photographers,” says Miller. “Clients can also give them to us in advance. We load the pictures into our software, which colorizes the tiles and tells us where to put them on the grid. As the event is going on, everyone is working together to create the final image. It’s a fun interactive thing that’s really popular at large and small conferences. People just enjoy coming together and being part of creating the wall.”
Miller uses Epson ColorWorks C3500 inkjet label printers for printing 2×2-inch photo mosaic tiles. The C3500 prints labels from 1.2 to 4.4 inches in width. Paper comes in 2-, 3- and 4-inch-wide continuous rolls, as well as rolls of die-cut stickers ranging from 3×2 to 4×6 inches.
Button It Up uses primarily compact DNP printers for events. The company has about 14 to 16 DNP DS620A printers, which it uses to print the most popular photo sizes—4×6 and 5×7 inches—as well as 2×6- and giant 6×14-inch photo strips.
“We had DS40s and DS80s when I came on in 2017,” says Miller. “When the DNP DS620A came out, we started to switch over to those. Fortunately, we had a few during the Great Media Shortage of 2021, as well as a few DS40s to get us through.”
The Great Media Shortage
The “Great Media Shortage” refers to severe printer and paper shortages brought about by pandemic-related supply chain issues. Steve Behen, sales manager at Imaging Spectrum, a photo printer dealership in Plano, Texas, says the shortages are exacerbated by photographers’ last-minute buying habits—especially printer paper.
“Historically, most customers like to order printer supplies just before an event,” says Behen. “Unfortunately, that way of managing supplies doesn’t work in these challenging times. What has proven to work is keeping in touch with your trusted supplier on a regular basis (a value-added reseller, not Amazon) and grabbing paper when you can. In addition, always try to keep some emergency stock in your supply room if possible.
“Another thing that works well for my customers is creativity. Offer your market premium paper sizes like 5×7 or 6×8, which are often more readily available than 4×6 for some printers. The cost per print difference is minimal in the bigger picture. If you know how to sell, you can turn this downside into a financial upside.”
Obtaining hardware has also been a challenge. “Just like the automobile industry, manufacturers can’t get enough sensors and chips,” adds Behen. “It’s gotten so bad, we’re trying to grab refurbished printers, anything to keep people printing.”
A Look at the Hardware
In addition to the popularity of DNP printers, one of the longest waiting lists belongs to the recently introduced Epson SureLab D1070 professional minilab photo printer and its double-sided D1070DE version. Both are designed for photo, event and retail environments.
The Epson D1070 measures 18.1×14.7×13.5 inches and weighs 38.3 pounds. It features a 1.44-inch LCD screen for easier access to functions and built-in wireless connectivity. It also supports all standard Windows and Mac raster-based imaging applications. Epson’s MicroPiezo AMC printhead and UltraChrome D6r-S ink deliver prints on a variety of paper finishes and sizes.
The D1070 produces up to 460 4×6-, 300 5×7- and 165 8×10-inch prints per hour in high-speed mode (720×360 dpi). Standard mode is 720×720 dpi and high-quality mode is 1,440×720 dpi. The addition of a duplex feeder turns the SureLab D1070 into the D1070DE for automated double-sided printing.
“My waiting list on these printers is gigantic,” says Behen. “I think they’re going to make huge waves in the on-site event and small lab businesses.”
The Epson D1070 competes with Fujifilm’s established Frontier-S DX100. “Epson’s had a couple models before that looked exactly like the DX100, but they never really gained any ground. That’s because Fujifilm worked so hard at trade shows, marketing and team sports sponsorships. They really owned the dry lab business,” he says. “However, I think Epson is going to do it with this printer.”
The Fujifilm Frontier-S DX100 is a compact, high-quality inkjet printer designed for retail minilab, retail kiosk and event photography businesses. The printer measures 18.1×16.9×13.9 inches and weighs 51 pounds with paper and ink cartridges.
It incorporates a Piezoelectric inkjet system with six dye-based Vividia colored inks to produce up to 360 4R (4×6) prints per hour. It’s also capable of producing prints from 3.5×5 to 8×39 inches with a print resolution of 720×720 dpi in standard and 1,440×720 dpi in high-quality mode.
In addition, several other companies manufacture popular dye-sub printers for the photo booth market. They include HiTi, Mitsubishi and Sinfonia. Supply issues have impacted most compact photo printers—each to varying degrees. For information on availability, contact your regular supplier or visit the Imaging Spectrum website at imagingspectrum.com.
Connecting with the DNP WCM2
One of the most valuable printer accessories for the photo booth market is the DNP Wireless Connect Module 2, says Steve Behen of Imaging Spectrum. The WCM2 connects to a printer, giving it Wi-Fi capability for local communication. It wirelessly connects iOS/Android mobile devices and Mac/Windows computers to DNP printers. As a result, it allows photographers to print photos on the DNP printers that they have on their mobile devices or computers, without a wired connection between the two. What’s more, they don’t have to connect to the venue’s Internet service.
“This was really driven by the iPad market,” says Behen. “Macintosh made a real dent in the imaging business with its iPad Pros. However, you can’t plug a printer into an iPad. The wireless connect module just goes straight from the printer to the iPad. And that is pretty darn cool.”