Other Special Events

DIY Summer Camp Photo Booth

Here’s a fun and unique way to capture memories this summer. Why not create your own DIY photo booth at summer camp!

Over the years I’ve seen a few camps embrace the DIY photobooth. These are pretty easy to set up and can be very low cost. With a few supplies and some creativity, you campers will have a blast posing for silly photos with their friends.

Planning Your DIY Summer Camp Photo Booth

Choosing a Theme

The first step in planning your photo booth is to choose a theme. This can be anything from a beach party to a superhero adventure, depending on the weekly or summer theme. If you don’t have a camp theme, just use a generic summer theme. Once you have a theme in mind, you can start gathering materials to create props and decorations that fit the theme.

Gathering Materials

First, you’ll need a backdrop. This can be as simple as a sheet or a piece of fabric; you can find some cool fabrics at a fabric or crafts store. Of course, you can get creative and make your own backdrop using streamers, balloons, or other decorations.

Next, you’ll want to gather props and accessories that fit your chosen theme. This can include hats, sunglasses, masks, signs, and other fun items that campers can use to pose for photos. Consider making some of these props yourself using materials like cardboard, paint, and glitter. “Hey, arts and crafts director, I have a job for you.”

Proper lighting always helps, especially if you’re not set up outside or in a very well-lit area. If you don’t already have lights on stands, look for ones that are LED. Here are some good options.

Bestseller No. 1
2-Pack LED Video Light Kit, NiceVeedi Studio Light, 2800-6500K Dimmable Photography Lighting Kit with Tripod Stand&Phone Holder, 73" Stream Light for Video Recording, Game Streaming, YouTube…
  • 【LIGHT PANEL & POWER CABLE】Extended LED light panel with compact design allows you to...
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Photography Lighting Kit Dimmable 5600K USB Led Video Studio Streaming Lights with Adjustable Tripod Stand and Color Filters for Table Top/Photo Video Shooting
  • 【MULTIPLE-USE LED LIGHTING SET】 The small LED panel light (5.73×3.78 inches/14.5×...
  • 【 LED Bulbs & USB Powered 】 70 pcs energy-saving lamp beads, CRI98+, 1000lm,...
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Neewer 2 Packs Dimmable Bi-Color 480 LED Video Light and Stand Lighting Kit Includes: 3200~5600K CRI 96+ LED Panel with U Bracket, 75 inches Light Stand for YouTube Studio Photography, Video Shooting
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  • 【Customizable Lighting】 Use the control knobs to set the brightness from 0 to 100% and...

Finally, you’ll need a camera or smartphone to take the photos. If you’re using a smartphone, consider downloading a photo booth app that allows you to add filters and effects to the photos.

With these materials in hand, you can set up your DIY photo booth and watch as campers have a blast posing for silly photos and capturing memories that will last a lifetime.

Setting Up the Photo Booth

Selecting the Location

Choose a location for your photo booth. Look for an area with good lighting and enough space for your backdrop and camera setup. Consider placing the photobooth near a natural backdrop like trees or a lake for a more scenic and “campy” look.

Assembling the Backdrop

Next, assemble your backdrop. As mentioned before, you can use a variety of materials such as a sheet, curtains, or streamers to create a colorful and fun background. Hang the backdrop securely using tape or clips to avoid any accidents. You can also add props like hats, glasses, or signs on the backdrop itself to make the photos more entertaining.

If you want to use themed backdrops some websites specialize in them. Alternatively, you can check for ones on Amazon like these.

Bestseller No. 1
Moukeren Western Party Backdrop Western Cowboy Party Decoration Supply Wild West Decor Wooden House Barn Photo Background for Kids Children Boy Baby Photo Birthday Banner Rustic Booth(7 x 5 Ft)
  • Large Size: this western party backdrop is about 7 x 5 feet in size, with metal rings...
  • Design with Western Theme Elements: the cowboy party background is exclusively designed...
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BINQOO 7x5ft Movie Night Backdrop for Birthday Party Movie Theme Now Showing Red Carpet Photography Backdrop and Studio Props Movie Party Ceremony Dress-up Awards Parties Photo Photography Background
  • ❤Material: vinyl(High resolution and quality & not easy fade)
  • ❤Size: W x L= 7 x 5 ft (2.1mx1.5m);Lightwebight,easy storage and carry.
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Riyidecor Colorful Brick Wall Backdrop 7Wx5H Feet Graffiti 80's 90's Hip Hop Disco Fabric Polyester Graduation Themed Party Photography Background Retro Block Portrait Decoration Props Photo Shoot
  • 📷Material and Size: This backdrop adopt high quality polyester cloth ,which makes the...
  • 📷Design:Graffiti Theme, Colorful Brick pattern, fashion and cool. Multicolor.

Go all out and put together a magazine cover photo shoot like this:

Lighting and Camera Setup

Proper lighting is important for great photos. If you’re setting up your photo booth outdoors, you can schedule your shoot during the golden hour (an hour after sunrise or an hour before sunset) for soft, warm lighting. If you’re shooting indoors, use bright, diffused lighting to avoid harsh shadows.

For the camera setup, use a tripod to keep your camera steady and at the right height. Set your camera to a high shutter speed to capture action shots and a low aperture to create a shallow depth of field. You can also set a timer or use a remote to take photos, even with a smartphone.

By following these simple steps, you can set up a photo booth that will be a hit at camp, for a weekend retreat, or for a holiday event. Have fun and capture those memories!

Creating Fun Props and Costumes

Crafting DIY Props

One of the best parts of a summer camp photo booth is the props! If you want to make the photo booth part of the arts and crafts experience, having the campers make their own props is a fun and creative activity that campers of all ages can enjoy. Here are some simple DIY prop ideas that the arts and crafts leader can make with the campers:

  • Speech bubbles: Cut out speech bubbles from cardboard and write funny phrases on them with markers. You can also attach wooden dowels or straws to the back to make them easier to hold.
  • Hats and headbands: Use paper, felt, or fabric to create hats and headbands in different colors and styles. You can add embellishments like feathers, pom-poms, or sequins to make them more festive.
  • Glasses and masks: Cut out glasses and masks from cardstock or foam sheets and decorate them with paint, markers, or stickers. You can also add elastic bands to the back to make them wearable.

Encourage your campers to get creative and come up with their own prop ideas. 

Assembling Costume Ideas

In addition to props, costumes would also add to the fun of a summer camp photo booth. Here are some neat costume ideas:

  • Superhero: Offer capes and masks, and accessories like utility belts and wrist cuffs. 
  • Pirate: Provide bandanas, eye patches, and striped shirts, as well as toy swords or telescopes. You can also make pirate hats out of paper or cardboard.
  • Animal: Have campers dress up as their favorite animal with a headband or hat with ears. You can also paint their faces to look like an animal.

Encourage your campers to get into character and have fun with their costumes. You can also provide a few costume pieces for them to choose from, such as hats, wigs, and accessories. If you plan to get clothing as part of the costumes, make sure to get a variety of sizes. As you know, not all campers (or staff) are created equal in size.

Photobooth Activities and Games

Okay, let’s get a little crazy and go beyond the normal “grab a prop and pose for a photo”. Come up with activities and games. Here is one example.

Interactive Photo Challenges

We love to keep campers engaged. One of the best ways to keep campers excited about the photo booth is to offer interactive photo challenges. These challenges can be simple or complex, depending on the age and skill level of the kiddos. For example, you could challenge campers to create a scene using props and costumes, or you could ask them to recreate a famous movie scene.

To make these challenges even more exciting, consider offering prizes or team points for the best photo. This could be anything from a small trinket like a custom button to being seated first at lunch. 

Sharing the Memories

Printing Photos

Once you have taken all the photos, you can print them out and display them on a special board at camp, or just hand them out to the campers or their parents. You can use a variety of printing options, including:

  • Camp Printer: Print the photos yourself on photo paper. This is a cost-effective option, and you can print as many copies as you want.
  • Online Printing Services: Many online printing services offer high-quality prints. You can upload your photos and have them delivered to your doorstep.
  • Local Photo Shops: You can also visit your local photo shop to get prints. This is a great option if you want to print the photos in different sizes.

Digital Sharing Strategies

More than likely, you’ll want to share them digitally. Here are some digital sharing strategies:

  • Social Media: You can share your photos on your social media platforms like Instagram or Facebook. This is a great way to share the memories with everyone.
  • Cloud Storage: You can also store your photos on cloud storage services like Google Drive, Dropbox, or iCloud. This way, parents, campers, and staff can access them from anywhere and share them with friends and family.
  • Email: You can also email the photos. This allows you to add a personal message with each photo.

Leveling Up

We’ve discussed the low-cost way of doing things, but if you want to create a more professional photo booth experience, you’ll need to spend some money. This can be a great addition to weekend rentals and special events at your camp or organization.

Instead of listing everything out, this video goes through it all. While it is a couple of years old, it’s the best one available when it comes to putting together a DIY professional set-up.


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