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Photo booth business makes memories

Posted: July 9, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: July 9, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Photo Booth Hysteria’s first job helped to capture the fun at a birthday party held at a Stevenson Ranch park. Photo Booth Hysteria’s first job helped to capture the fun at a birthday party held at a Stevenson Ranch park.
Photo Booth Hysteria’s first job helped to capture the fun at a birthday party held at a Stevenson Ranch park.

John Howell of Santa Clarita, along with his son Christopher, turned a lifelong photography passion into a business that is making a comeback by building a portable photo booth to capture memories at milestone events and celebrations.

Launched six months ago, Photo Booth Hysteria is used to take photos of all party goers or event attendees and provide 2 x 6 inch or 4 x 6 inch photos capturing the memory to everyone in the photo for a flat hourly fee.

Event packages are available that are designed for everything from short-timed to more lengthy events.

Customizing the photo backdrop for every event, businesses can even have their logos incorporated into photo framing.

Costumes, props and a Wild West bar can be delivered to locations as well allowing photo subjects to dress up and have fun.

Unlike the original photo booths in which two or three friends would squeeze into a small enclosed photo room, the Howell’s open air photo both allows as few as a couple people to a large group to fit into a single photo thanks to the advancement made with digital photography.

“We did one for the Touch A Truck event to raise money for the SCV Senior Center,” John Howell said. “And we’ve done several for our church.”

The idea for a photo booth came when his granddaughter came home from sixth grade graduation a year ago with photo strips – like the kind that came from the original photo booths.

“They were really, really small and I thought I could do better than that,” Howell said.


After researching the trend, Howell built a photo booth using two boxes to house an Icon 16 megapixel camera, strobe light to create the light flash, printer, and a laptop with the Microsoft Windows 7 operating system with touch screen.

“Everybody in the picture gets a photo. We print extras so everybody has one at no added cost,” he said. “We would rather everyone have a picture and be happy.”

The photo booths aren’t cheap to build though, Howell said as he is busy working on his second one. Each one cost around $5,000, he said.

But he’s relying on his partner and son Christopher to build Photo Booth Hysteria.

“Christopher will end up with the business,” Howell said. “He’s going to College of the Canyons now majoring in business. This is what he wants to do.”

Howell’s first Photo Booth Hysteria event turned out to reveal a historical link between his passion for photography and the creation of his open air photo booth.


Howell decided to bring the photo booth to a Halloween scouting event that was held at a Malibu lodge which had been long ago donated to the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys’ Boy Scouts Bill Hart District.

“I decided to bring my photo booth there to give something back to scouting only to find out that’s where the photo booth all began,” he said.

At that event, Howell learned that the man who originally owned the lodge and donated it - Siberian immigrant Anatol Josepho - also invented the first automated photo booth in 1925.

As for Photo Booth Hysteria, in this high-tech world the local business provides treasures that people can hold in their hands and use to savor the memories.

The local business creates not only memories of an event for the people attending, but the company will also create a scrapbook or memory book for the party hosts as well.

“We’ll bring a scrapbook and place extra copies of the photos in it so that people can write notes in to celebrate a milestone event,” Howell said.


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