DIY photo booths!

I think photo booths are one of the best ways to promote a program at your library.  Your young patrons will get excited and ask to have their picture taken and ideally that photo will end up on social media organically promoting your program!  But ultimately they can just look so cool and add a bit of whimsy to your branch!

During my first year at the library we had a super hero theme and one of the librarians purchased this photo booth from oriental trading.

This was the first photo booth that I saw in a library and kids, teens and even adults were excited to have their picture taken.  It was one of the coolest things in our library that summer!  After this I began a long process of learning how to create booths efficiently in order to promote some of our big programs at the branch.

My initial attempts relied on my limited painting ability.  This worked really well for some of the photo booths but I kept hitting a ceiling with what I wanted to do vs. what I could do.

Making the Harry Potter car was a lot of fun but took so much time.  And I did learn by printing off Harry’s face….That I could print off Harry’s face and glue it onto poster board!

A few months after this program I did a Star Wars photo booth. It was a lot of fun fabricating an x-wing nose out of cardboard and paper Mache’ but wow oh wow was it time consuming.

During the process I remembered Harry Potter’s face and found with a high quality photo of an x-wing I could enlarge it to a massive size! Furthermore, with Microsoft Publisher I could print it out in multiple sheets to make the x-wing you see in the photo below which was about  8 feet wide.

I no longer needed to be have artistic talent!!!! I could just print it off using Microsoft Publisher and our library’s printer!!! (RED LEADER THIS IS GOLD LEADER….)

Following This discovery, I created this photo booth using Google Images.

Now there is certainly a learning curve and it does take time to become better and more experienced with Publisher but it’s gotten to the point where I can put out a new photo booth from concept to finished product in 4 hours provided I have the cardboard needed….provided im not too picky

Here is the process using Microsoft Publisher

  1. Have a general image in your head about what you want to do. Or google specific things for example harry potter/super hero/star wars photo booth or etc.
  2. Know the size of your “canvas” you can use a large cardboard box as your back board. or recently I’ve started using this giant roll of what we call Butcher Paper which is 38” tall and after I’ve glued the pages to the paper I then attach it to the cardboard. If I need it to be taller I can am still able to add more length.
This is the Butcher Paper stuff, This fireplace was part of decorating the interior of our KDL van for Trunk or Treat!

When you determine the size, you can make the page size reflect that in publisher for instance if I was working with a 38” x 46” size piece of cardboard

  1. After opening Publisher, create a new file
  2. Select More Blank page sizes

  3. Now it’s time for the google. When using google image search use high quality images as you will be expanding them. The Advanced tool bar allows you to filter your search

Also know that google also allows you to search for images that can be reused and modified commercially.

Often adding “transparent” or white background will allow you to find images that can be layered on top of each other.

When you’ve found you images it’s time to bring it all together.

4. It’s important to start with a backdrop that is not pure white because eventually you’re going to have to cut the paper and I do not cut the best lines, so start with a colored back ground. Below is a background I chose and then I expanded and added our library system’s summer reading logo.

5. Now it was time to choose the people

  1. For this particular booth initially I chose Bob Ross, a random dancer, and Pete Townsend to use for the create theme….

As you add your subjects into the document.  I also threw in some random words to make it more festive and fill some empty space.

PRO TIP:  Check with fellow co-workers/friends/frenemies before you print your design!!!!!  Did you know that Pete Townsend at one point was being investigated for a rather heinous crime?  Although he was exonerated it was not until I reached this stage, and had it all printed that I was told of this issue and had to redesign and reprint everything.  Just recently I learned my lesson again and was about to do a photo booth with Ben Affleck’s Batman but he was in the news because of the MTV controversy.  (who knew you’d learn about celeb affairs in a photo booth blog)   Anywho please check before you print.  Cause if you’re like me and you never knew that about Pete Townsend…it’d be a whole lot worse getting it out to the public and having a parent complain about the association.  So DISCOUNT DOUBLE CHECK.

Pro tip : If you are using people try to throw in some diversity.  Having photo booths that reflect the diversity of your patrons will help everyone feel welcomed.



When you go to print your massive photo booth. Be sure to select tiled, and the largest paper size you have. Also if you click on layout options you will be able select the amount of overlap you would like. I would not go below .25

   Laying it out.

If you can find piece of card board that has a straight edge let that be your guide. Laying down the first layer as straight and even as possible will of course help you out. alternating the starting side helps too!

Once you have it lined up in the way you want.  Grab your scissors and cut away the white borders you need to in order to make it work. Cut the bottom and left side edges off the pages knowing that they would be overlapped by the next page.

Attaching to the cardboard

Use glue sticks!  I’ve tried Mod Podge, spray adhesive, and Elmers and it provided inconsistent and often ugly results.  Glue sticks are best. I have done a Mod Podge top layer but often I’m not happy with the results.  It does tend to make the photo booth last longer but visually I don’t like it as much.  Once you have it glued down, grab your handy razor knife and cut out the face holes!

And boom with a little bit of work and time you’ve got yourself a custom made Photo booth that required very little artistic talent!


Protip: When you are ready to glue start from the side that has the most writing. As you can see CREAte leans down a little bit near the end, that is because I started from the bottom (now we here) and it caused there to be quite a bit of shifting and compensation.












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