A lifelong photographer, Zach Schiffman started Studio Z Photography in 2011 with the intention of focusing full-time on wedding photography. He quickly realized he preferred the “fun” side of the wedding photography business: photo booths. Owner of Studio Z Photo Booths, Schiffman offers his clients a variety of photo booth setups and media, including instantly-shareable still and video activations and on-site prints using DNP printers. We talked to him about his growing business.
What was your initial impetus for starting a photo booth company?
I was at my cousin’s wedding in Las Vegas and their photographer had a photo booth setup: seamless backdrop, three-point lighting and a camera on a tripod. No prints, no instant sharing—just a fun photo shoot. As a hobby photographer my whole life, I had never seen this before and thought, “Hmm…I think I can do this.” I started with a similar setup, then evolved into the full-on kiosk/open air systems you see today.
What makes contemporary photo booths unique?
Photo booths have evolved so much. It’s hard to define what a photo booth is anymore. Purists say a photo booth needs to be enclosed, like what you’d find at a mall or a carnival: pay-per-use with the instant gratification of 2×6 strips. Others say photo booths are a term to describe any style of photo or video activation that allows a guest to post, create and instantly receive and share their media.
We live in an era of influencers and Instagram users are savvy. People don’t want to post content that promotes a company without getting paid for it. It’s not as easy for brands to get content posted by guests at events. That’s where photo booths that create engaging and unique content bridge the gap—by spreading brand awareness with a takeaway that’s “too cool” not to post instantly. If you’re being recorded in 360-degree slow motion, you’re going to post it regardless of the logo overlaid in the corner of the video.
How do you keep up with the industry while growing your client base?
By constantly evolving. We look to trendmakers in the industry, and social media as a whole, to stay on top of what guests want. Apps like Phhhoto and Instagram started the “boomerang” trend years ago, which we quickly integrated into our systems. We needed a way to make this more enticing so we started adding things like confetti—things average users wouldn’t have on hand—to give them a reason to post our output instead of their own creations. From there, we moved onto things like the “glam filter” popularized by the Kardashians, then multi-camera arrays—combining up to 15 cameras, all firing simultaneously, to create a 3D animation. Then came 360-degree slow-motion booths (like you see on red carpets). Now we’re focusing on the next generation of “photo booths” with an interest in augmented reality; high-end cinematography video booths (think Steadicam and gimbals); and robotic arms creating unique angles humans cannot. When it comes to working with brands and agencies, it’s all about the “wow” factor: production value. Guests love to feel like they’re part of something more. Photo booths have become mini Hollywood sets, and we are really excited for this ride into 2020 and beyond.
How does printing factor into your offerings?
There will always be a need for prints, even as photo booths evolve. At social events, the print is the party favor. It’s an instant reminder of the night you had, the photo you hang on the fridge or in your cubicle or your locker. For brands, prints are another medium for promotion.
We love using DNP products in our operations. Actually it’s the only brand we use. Our DNP DS620As are workhorses. The speed at which they produce a 4×6 print allows every guest in our booth to get a copy, without having to wait long for the takeaway. We constantly hear, “wow that was fast,” as sometimes the prints are done before the guests even get to the printers. We use DS620A and DS820A printers in all of our standard photo booths.
What are other ways you set your business apart from the competition?
We’re constantly trying to stay ahead of the curve. It’s a saturated market, but we hold our own. I’m a photographer first, and use that knowledge to create great exposures and compositions. I also work in network TV production which allows me to use my skills as a director.
To learn more about DNP products and service, please visit DNP.