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Culver Photo Booth brings old-fashioned fun into 21st century

January 29, 2013

Culver town marshal Wayne Bean (right) and police officer Troy Ulch clown around in the Culver Photo Booth last month at the town of Culver’s employee Christmas party.

They're the stuff of generations of movies and memories, perhaps thought lost in this age of instant digital imagery, but Grant Munroe of CGM Photography surmises the resurgance of popularity in photo booths boils down, as much as anything, to one simple element: fun.

That's been the cae without exception since he introduced the Culver Photo Booth (culverphotobooth.com), which residents will likely see around the community repeatedly in the coming months.
"It's fun for any age group," he says. "From my little nieces and

nephews -- which start at age 5 -- up to 70 year olds, I've seen having fun in there."

Many readers will recall photo booths from firsthand experience, while those too young to remember their proliferation in gathering places of old, have likely seen them in movies and television shows. You know the ones: a small booth able to seat two to four people, which takes several photos in rapid-fire succession. The result is an almost-instant strip of photos, usually just shots of the subjects' heads.

Countless young lovers took those impromptu photos, and countless soldiers, for example, cherished those shots in a pocket as they went off to war.

Of course, the technology has changed since the old days, when the "instant developing" aspect of a photo booth made it especially attractive. Today's photo booths utilize digital cameras and computers, as might be expected.

But nowadays many -- if not most -- Americans have digital cameras (even on their cell phones), computers, and printers, so theoretically they could achieve the same effect without too much difficulty. But, says Munroe, there's something special about the photo booth experience.

"There's been a lot of interest," he says. "Anyone can take photos, but the printing aspect requires you to have a printer onsite or wait `til you get home to print the photos. The good photobooths have professional grade printers that can put out a print in 10 seconds. The printer I have has a cutter which cuts the photo strips, so you just hand them to people and you're done."

Photo processing takes about 15 seconds, Munroe explains, and printing takes another ten, "So from the time the last photo is taken until it comes out is less than 30 seconds."

And, he adds, prints are cut out already when they appear, and they're dry.

"This is professional grade; it's not an inkjet printer, where you have to wait `til it dries."

The genesis of Culver Photo Booth came partly from requests Munroe received while photographing weddings, reunions, and family gatherings, just some of the events at which photo booths have begun appearing in other communities.

"I researched some (photo booths) a few years ago and was just overwhelmed. This past fall I researched them with a more focused idea of what I wanted and started comparing them as far as setup time, physical appearance, how heavy they are, and most importanntly, photo quality. A couple really stood out, and a couple dropped off my list. They almost all have the same setup, but the lighting is different on all of them."

Munroe notes he's able to customize a one-inch area at the bottom of each photo strip to include his company logo, but also a theme, such as a class reunion year, bride and groom's names, or holiday imagery. The background color is also customizable.

The booth may be rented by the hour, and there's a two-hour minimum starting at $400. That covers as many photos as a group wishes to take during that time, printing fully included.

"If you have a moving line," adds Munroe, "you can get 50 to 70 people through the booth in an hour."

Munroe expects demand for the photo booth to increase as people become more aware, and he notes it's a perfect fit for a number of local gatherings.

"I could see it at a Culver Boys & Girls Club auction of a yacht club party in the summer, or a family reunion. We're compatible with those inflatable bouncy things -- it's just as much fun.

"People have a ball with it. There's noise coming out of it, and they're laughing. Within five seconds it puts you in a great mood -- they come out smiling. This past weekend at the (Bridal Expo in Plymouth) -- these are people that didn't know it would be there -- but if you look at the photos they take, they just had a ball with the thing. Most put on the masks and the boas and hats."

Yes, there are props to go with the photo booth, and not just those mentioned above. Holiday-themed props abound, and Munroe points out he'll be adding more as spring and summer come around.

Munroe is well known already in the area for CGM Photography (culverphotos.com), which specializes in weddings, event photos, senior photos, and lately, says Munroe, even menu items for local restaurants.

"We just decided to add the photo booth," he says, "as one more photo-related thing, as our business grows here."

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