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Setting up a Photo Booth

Matt DoCampo

Refresher
Aug 20, 2009
113
5
0
First Name
Matt
We handle all of our inventory photography inhouse. Our grounds lack a decent spot to shoot our vehicles away from other inventory and ugly parts of the facility. We are looking into assembling a photo area in an empty service bay.

I'm trying to keep this as high-speed, low-drag as possible. So I was wondering if any of you have built a photo booth for your inventory. What type of background are you using? Lighting?

My thought it to have our facilities folks hang two rows of lights over the car. Then purchase 2 10x24' muslin backgrounds, stands and then a single monolight with soft box for interior lighting.

Basically I'm trying to create this:





And avoid this:



I understand part of it is camera, technique and post-processing. But there is clearly an issue there with the setup of their lighting.

Thoughts? Suggestions?
 

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joe.pistell

Uncle Joe
Apr 7, 2009
3,988
1,511
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Joe
Matt,

Some thoughts from my travels.

Backgrounds:
Avoid white backgrounds, dark blue looks black and the lines on white cars disappear. Light Neutral colors work well. I went ultra low budget and used paint tarps.

Floor:
Neutral again, but, I chose lite gray speckled paint used for garage floors. Hides tire scuffs , Hides oil drips & water drips and floors are often wet, so it's safe for camera peeps too.


Booth Size
The Bigger the Better. What a difference a large photo booth is (vs a small one).



This is an enormous booth, 30*30 by 16 ft tall. Bought the best wide spectrum fluorescents I could find. Materials for this entire job were under $3k (I made 3 for our stores).



 
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joe.pistell

Uncle Joe
Apr 7, 2009
3,988
1,511
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Joe
BT,

Where are you and how's your turntable photo booth going?
 

Billfred

Jr. Refresher
Oct 20, 2009
238
43
28
First Name
Billfred
We use a photo booth at this store and our Hyundai store. Theirs is awesome, but we've evolved ours into something good (and certainly won't get our work confused for any stock photos!).

Space: We have two converted service bays to ourselves (well, normally). This gives us a 25x25-ish space to work with. This is great for anything up to about an Acadia or Enclave, tight for Yukons and Sierras, and suck-in-your-waist territory for Sierra 3500 trucks. Flaps in the background material provide access to neighboring bays, the bay doors to get the cars in and out, and the all-important bathroom. One corner holds a desk for a computer and printer (we do stickers and entering features at the same time). Through well-tested camera angles, we avoid showing much of anything.

Lighting: We have a mixture of light sources--I can hear my photography professor from school cringing, but it works well enough without resorting to paying the [strike]extortionate[/strike] prices of professional lights. For lack of mouse drawing skills, I freehanded a rough diagram for you:



I'm still not 100% satisfied with it, but it's where I can make up for it in post (now my professor's probably having a heart attack). Since most of the light's pointed away from the backdrop, the nearly-white nature of it doesn't really pose a problem.



On the interiors, we shoot exclusively using the on-camera flash. Even for the odometer shots. How we get those to look right is a bit of a secret, though not one that's hard to figure out if you've got a general grasp on using flashes. (Since you're bringing up monolights and softboxes, I imagine you're already dissecting this photo.)



Process: Back the car into the bay, shoot the side and front, then go and do the interiors. Pull the car around, shoot the back. (If I had more room, this would probably be superfluous.) Punch features into eBiz, print and apply stickers (for used cars), get the car out, roll on to the next one.

You're dead on about the necessity of having the right hands handling the process, especially running the camera. It takes an hour to learn, and a lifetime to master. (I've been the only shooter here for 18 months, and I'm still tweaking the process. If I looked at some of my early output, I'd probably smack myself over the head. Yes, even before my photography professor did.)

Best of luck!
 

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Brian Tucker

Refresher
Apr 7, 2009
157
12
18
First Name
Brian
Matt,
We went with professional lighting equipment that you would find in a studio (the lights fire when you take a photo). We also fire digital SLR cameras _ Nikon D-40 if I am not mistaken.

We decided that a white background would work best for our application.

This is what they look like Toyota Tacoma, Elizabethtown, Kentucky, Truck Short Double Cab, Swope Toyota Stock: T10761190 Louisville

I think these guys got it going on as well - he uses a parachute to diffuse overhead lighting.
Used Chevrolet Atlanta | Pre-Owned Chevrolet Atlanta | Certified Pre-Owned Chevrolet Atlanta | Hendrick Chevrolet | Chevrolet Duluth | Gwinnett Place Chevrolet
let me know what questions you have or if you like we can talk just P.M. me
 

Brian Tucker

Refresher
Apr 7, 2009
157
12
18
First Name
Brian
I keep saying that a vendor should jump all over this! A turn key photo booth operation could have some potential unless video kills the still pics and I don't see that happening anytime soon.
 
Reactions: Carol_Photogal

Jeff Kershner

Founder
May 1, 2005
3,452
1,043
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Jeff
@Brian I'm always impressed with your photo booth.

You know you're taking stellar when you have to include "actual photo of vehicle" in an overlay. :)

Well since we are sharing..here are 2 taken from 2 of my separate Mercedes dealers. Bother have nice studios.

Cclass_example.jpg

glk_example.jpg
 

jfischbein

Noob
Feb 4, 2011
1
1
0
First Name
Jason
I don't have any space in my shop to build a photo booth. Does any one know of a portable unit or trailer setup I could buy to accomplish this idea. I am thinking something along the lines of a trailer with pop up top and drop down sides like the current fusion/camry commercial. Ideas...suggestions????
 
Reactions: Carol_Photogal

terrencegordon

Getting Refreshed
Apr 20, 2009
83
12
8
First Name
Terrence
Our CEO has sold thousands of cars online, and as a SMU Film Major he is a master at photography and video. He created the one-sheet (linked below) for best-practices on indoor and outdoor vehicle photography. Enjoy!

Good to see dealers owning their merchandising process!!!

http://interactive.ecarlist.com/pdf/photography.pdf