Thursday, March 28, 2013

Wedding Talk No. 11 - How to make a DIY photo wall

Our wedding had a lot of DIY projects. I'm looking forward to sharing all the projects, but I think you guys will be most interested in this one. I really wanted to rent a vintage photo booth that printed out real black and white strips but they were just too pricey. I know there are digital versions but I just don't like those. We decided to set up a DIY photo wall instead.
I had a lot of help from friends and family on wedding projects, I couldn't have done any of them without their help! Big thanks to Lindsay, Mollye, and Tootie with their help on this project.

These are items we used to put together this photo wall. Of course, you can edit as needed for yours.
- colored paper ( we used this baby blue version)
- studio lights (I already had these, you can rent them or maybe borrow from a photographer friend)
- table
- tripod 
- digital camera
- remote control (make sure it works with your digital camera!)
- directions
- painters tape
- Clear duct tape (for your letter sign or other decorations to go on top of the colored paper)
- foam letters covered in glitter (we got these letters, gold and silver glitter, and tacky glue at Moskatels)
- a string of fringe + ribbon (we found the ones we used downtown la, in the fabric district. Not sure what store it was, we went to about 10 different ones searching for the perfect fringe)
- scissors
- ladder

You will need at least two people to set up this photo wall. 

1. Figure out the best background wall. You will need up to 10 feet out from the wall clear to get the best pictures.

2. Set up the camera, tripod and table up between 6 to 10 feet from
the wall you will use as your background. You will later adjust this
to frame your background.

3. Take a few minutes to look through the camera view finder with someone of average height in front of the background to see where to hang the colored paper and where to place the tripod.  The height and width of the colored paper should be at the very least a foot wider or taller then you see in the camera view finder. Leave more room at the top of the view for people who are taller.  There is nothing worse than cutting off someone's head and if you want to hang a sign, you will need extra space here.  You want to make sure the people aren't covering up your decorations, so it is best to hang a sign (like the letters in our example) above the majority of the crowd.  Right now, just make sure there is room for the sign, you will hang that later on. Have someone mark where the colored paper will go with a pencil or use a piece of tape to guide you.

4. Start hanging your paper on the wall using the tape and ladder. It's easiest have one person unroll the paper or place it, while someone else tapes.  You want to make sure the paper is smooth.  If you have a roll of paper, start from the top and work your way to the
bottom, trimming at the floor if you have extra.  This way you can tape and secure from the top keeping the paper very smooth.  If you roll out the paper with the curl 'against' the wall, it is also less likely to peel off from the wall after you taped.  Make sure this is well adhered to the wall!

5.  For your sign, look through the view finder again to decide where to hang this. You can use tape to secure this. After securing the fringe and sign with tape, we covered it with ribbon.

5.   Go back to your table and adjust the view finder, or tripod to your test person again to make sure it is exactly where you want it. Tape the legs of the tripod and table to indicate you don't want guests to move it.

6.  Create a box on the floor with painters tape so you can show guests where they need to be standing to be in the picture.  Make the stand area a little smaller to make sure no one gets cut off.

7.  The lights work best when they are about  4 feet from the wall on either side of the standing area.  Take some test pictures to play with the lighting.  It seems like you would want to have the lights more centered on the people: however, this creates harsh shadows, so make sure to keep them on the side against the standing box.  Once you have figured out the best lighting, tape these down and make sure the cords are out of the walking path so guests don't trip. Keep in mind that the light might change from day to night, so test each situation so you know how and when to adjust for different times of the day.

8.  Props are fun, the more the better! We had a giant cardboard camera and balloons.

9.  Make a little sign for the remote, so people know where to place it, when finished, as well as serve as instructions.  You can tape the sign and instructions on the table.  You could also have a sign asking the camera settings not be touched, so that the flash doesn't get turned on, etc.

10. Throughout the night, have someone check to make sure the camera is still capturing the best light, the view and focus is still good and the battery is still charged. People might touch the camera and slightly alter your original settings. This might seem like a pain, but it really only takes a few minutes.

I was a bit worried after all this work that no one would really take photos- but there ended up being close to 700 on the camera! I think it was a huge hit. I printed out these photos and sent them along with my thank you notes. More on that later :)

Making these into gifs made them a bit pixelated but the are really high quality. I've uploaded them to flickr for anyone who wants to see them higher quality or download them.
Lindsay and I did our best to explain clearly but if you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask! 

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