Meet the boother
Jake is a veteran boother. When he started out there were very few photo booth manufacturers. Everything was home built and generally looked really awful. It took about 6 months of research and design to build one from several sources. At the time Jake predominantly used the Photo Booth Talk forums which were created and hosted by Cherie Irwin.
He really had to learn his craft; how to solder wires and source casino slot machine buttons to activate the booth!
“I think the mental fortitude and commitment it took way back then to even be able to start a photo booth business created characteristics that continue to make us successful today”.
“We were up to about 6 of the original handmade booths and we put a link on the website “Booths for sale”. The phone went nuts! Jimmy Fallen Show was calling, NASA wanted one for a nationwide road tour, a hotel in New York wanted one built into a wall, The United States Embassy in Honduras wanted one to take passport photos, someone who lived in the Strait of Gilbralter wanted me to ship one overseas (I had to google where that even was?) The show Shipping Wars was popular and they wanted to film an episode of us shipping one.”
They sold 10 or so and then realized to keep going they were going to need a technical support line and staff. Jake decided that wasn’t the direction he wanted to go, so they stopped selling booths.
“By the numbers…We have taken and hosted 350,000 photo booth pictures. Our most successful event included 3 drop off ipad booths for 90 days where we took 50,000 photos. We were paid $48,000. Our highest grossing event to date”
Jake skipped the mirror booth fad. “Yes, it became popular. Yes, we lost some events over it. But we were transitioning to equipment that did not require an enclosed trailer and an attendant with a vehicle that could pull a trailer and the know how to drive a trailer. Overall, it was a great decision”.
Name: Jake Westerfield
Business Name: Excellence Photo Booths
How long have you been in business? Since 2009
What is your favourite booth? LA Photo Party Venture
What is your favourite software? Photo Booth Upload
Tell us about the best event you ever did?
Way back in 2012/2013 we were contacted from a high end corporate event planner about an event they wanted us at but the client was all hush hush. The only thing they would tell me was that it was for a “Wrap Party “and it was in this small boutique hotel that was still under construction. Being from the Midwest, there are not many movies filmed here so I heard “Rap Party” and wondered why a Rapper was coming to town!
When I arrived to set up they had used brown construction paper and covered all the windows so you couldn’t see inside and there were four police cars just circling the block. The room was literally bare sheetrock and 2×4’s, you could still see the nails in the walls, and rough concrete floor. It was then that they gave me the graphic and I realized it wasn’t for a famous Rapper. It was the Wrap Party for the movie August Osage County.
George Clooney didn’t attend but Meryl Streep, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Juliette Lewis did. I guess Hollywood wanted to purposefully choose a half built venue just to mix it up a little.
Your 3 Tips for success in the photo booth industry:
#1 Don’t be cheap
Your equipment is a tool to make money. Why take a risk with a tool like that?
#2 You don’t have to do everything
But do at least one thing really well. Then under promise and over deliver.
#3 Never stop learning and adapting.
This industry changes constantly. If you don’t adapt with it you will get left behind.