If you’re getting married, or just having a party you’d like to remember, a photobooth can be a fun device to help you remember things. Of course you can rent one, but with an old computer, digital camera, and printer, making one isn’t too hard. On the other hand, setting it up in such a way that it looks presentable can be a bigger challenge.

Medical student and future groom Mitchell Hoyson decided to take on this challenge, and built a photobooth to be used at his wedding in 2018. Naturally, his significant other, Sarah, was a little hesitant about having a DIY contraption at her wedding, but is quite happy with how it turned out.

His setup consists of a wooden box with an extra panel in the middle on which a computer monitor and webcam are mounted. Slots on either side of the box form handles, which should be very convenient when toting the fixture to the party/wedding location. A notebook computer sits on the other side of this middle panel, held in place by gravity and a dowel.

Hoyson used an old Lenovo Y480 laptop running “sparkbooth” photobooth software as the brains of his device, and a Logitech c920 webcam to take the pictures. He would have preferred to use a DSLR, but that wasn’t in the budget.

In order to keep everything low maintenance, Hoyson connected an arcade-style button to a mouse’s clicker. This could then be mounted to a hole in the box so that future users just have to push a button to start the photobooth sequence. It’s a clever solution, which meant that he could use standard software without any fooling around with auxiliary hardware.

He painted the whole thing using small rollers to give it a consistent coat of chalkboard paint to allow it to be very subdued when it needs to blend in. If, however, there’s a different event where it needs more decoration, this can easily be accomplished as well.

Another clever feature of the build is that there’s a built-in spot for a light on top of the box with accommodation for the cord. This was made by stacking three layers of wood together so that the light’s cord can drop through into the internals of the box itself.

The front cover attaches to the box assembly via magnets. It’s a nice touch, and an option that I think often goes overlooked. Hoyson says that:

The front cover mounting mechanism was a major mental hurdle for me. My goals for this part was to have a front that could be attached securely but could also be removed if I needed to get to the screen or camera. I considered using Velcro on the inside and various latches and locks on the outside. My mom was around when I was planning this part, and I picked her brain on it. She thought of the magnet idea.

Since the wedding isn’t until next year, this gave Hoyson—who apparently leaves nothing to chance, certainly an excellent quality for a doctor—plenty of time to test it out. His first field test what his niece’s first birthday party. Although it was “a hit,” he did get some valuable insight for this other other big day. According to him:

Everyone that used it seemed to like it. We used cutout props on sticks (e.g. mustaches, hats, hot chocolate) that came premade from Amazon. It was harder than I anticipated for guests to swap these out between shots and get them oriented in the right direction. For the wedding, we plan to use actual props rather than paper cutouts, which will hopefully be a little more intuitive and faster to swap out.

This all sounds great, but if you’ve been the subject of a wedding ceremony yourself, you might be wondering what will happen if it stats not working as planned. Naturally, Hoyson has planned for this as well:

I tried to make it as self-reliant as possible. That’s part of the reason I added the big green button on the front with no keyboard or mouse for them to set things ary. My foreseeable challenge is stocking the printer’s paper and ink. One of my extended family members said that she would be willing to check in on it every once in a while, and we’ll put some sort of sign saying to get her if the printer isn’t printing. My larger concern is that something goes more seriously wrong and requires troubleshooting. I think I’ll have to promise my fiancé that I won’t do any troubleshooting during our wedding as I’m pretty sure she’d kill me.

He also plans to test it at another wedding that will take place before his, where he can hopefully smooth out any further kinks. We wish him all the best in 2018 and beyond!