May Tech Tip: What’s That For, PocketWizard?

“Somebody To Love”

This year’s camera body is amazing! It’s your main squeeze, your baby, your precioussssss! What to do with last year’s camera body; Old Black Betty? Occasionally you tote it around as a spare, “just in case something happens.” 99 times out of 100, nothing ever happens. It sits in the bag patiently waiting for you, vibrating the dust off its little sensor joyfully, gleeful at being powered up for maybe the second time this year. It’s making sad little puppy-dog eyes at you right now, actually, but you can’t see it buried among all the spare radios, batteries, and flashes. Poor thing!

Photo ©Chris Valites. Eyes by Steve Miller.

Photo ©Chris Valites. Eyes by Steve Miller.

Make it happy and put it to work! At your next wedding or ball game, use it for a little self-serve photo booth. While your customers enthusiastically mash a big red button and take nicely framed and beautifully lit self-portraits, you’re off making artful money shots somewhere else. The masses are entertained and you have one more folder on the DVD you can deliver, or one more line item to offer in your package deals, setting yourself apart as a dynamic photographer.

“Move Your Body!”

Here’s what you need:

  • A camera body with a remote shutter release terminal. If your camera is listed here, get the correct remote camera cable and it’ll work.
  • A pair of PocketWizard radios. The PlusX is nice.
  • Optional: The button! And maybe an extension.
  • Optional: A backdrop and a flash.
A happy spare camera ready to be used in a self-serve photo booth!

A happy spare camera ready to be used in a self-serve photo booth!

“Body Language”

  1. Mount the camera securely (tripod, Magic Arm, etc.). A wider angle lens might help when folk wander around, or try to cram in a super group.
  2. Set the focus manually so the shot happens quickly. Tape the focus ring in place with gaffer’s tape. Consider using aperture priority (or full manual) and pre-setting the depth of field to cover the target area completely.
  3. Set the scene!  A stool and an old back drop can be simple and elegant. Mark the spot where they should stand with some gaffer’s tape.
  4. Set-up the PocketWizard radios: a receiving radio for the camera, and a transmitting radio for the subjects to use. You can be more discrete with a trigger button and hide the transmitter in the set somewhere, like inside an apple box or taped under a stool, and place the button somewhere convenient. Or you can simply use the transmitter to trigger the remote camera by pressing the “TEST” button
  5. Hang a sign under the lens:
    1. Stand on the X and hold the button or transmitting radio behind your back.
    2. Smile!
    3. Press the button!
  6. Profit!


Use lights, or not. It is up to you! PocketWizard radios have a cool Auto-Relay function so you can have remote flashes fire in sync with your remote camera, adding another level of professionalism.

You writers and your words!  I need the moving pictures! Click here to jump to the exact moment in Mark Wallace’s PlusX webinar where he explains remote camera and flash with direct applications to self-serve photo booths.

“Nobody knows, the trouble I’ve seen…”

Other things to consider:

  • Will the batteries last all day? Mount things for easy battery swapping if needed, or consider AC power.
  • Security. If the booth is where you and others can see it, it may not be a problem. If it’s around the corner, consider a simple lock through the camera strap mount or other quick security system. (or, as our Marketing Director did, bring your kid to manage the photo booth)
  • 20080906doyle861120080906doyle8611Live View! Some cameras have a great live view function, or quick review of the photo. A short HDMI cable to a cheap little LCD makes the booth that much more fun!
  • Probably ok to shoot in .jpg versus RAW and you’ll fit a lot more images on the CF card.
  • Hand sanitizer.

“Everybody Dance, Now!”

You’ll get some fun stuff out of this setup. You’ll also get a bored 12-year-old’s stop motion Star Wars re-enactment, but hey, that works for YouTube, right? A quick photo booth takes little effort, and you can have a lot of fun personalizing it. Leave a stack of 11×17 paper and sharpies for folk to write messages to the bride and groom. Print out photos of the bride and groom from their engagement session so people can pose with them. Drape a few plastic pirate props around for the Pirates Little League team to enjoy. And hats. Hats are great!


Patrick Clow,
Technical Support Manager

Patrick Clow, Technical Support Manager @ PocketWizard

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