All photos courtesy of Stumptown Booth
If Tony Karais of Stumptown Booth doesn’t win you over with his quick wit and personality in this interview, then clearly you are not paying attention. Sounds like this entertaining guy landed in the right business! Looking for a photo booth for your wedding, but not sure what kind? One of the awesome things about Stumptown Booth is that they have many different kinds to choose from and can help you figure out what’s best for your event. They even have options for slow motion video and light painting! Yep! Keep reading…
AOW: Where are you originally from? And how long have you been in Portland?
I’m originally from a town in Southwestern Ontario called Guelph(‘gwelf’). It’s about 60 miles west of Toronto. Home to the University of Guelph and their outstanding agriculture and veterinary programs…neither of which I could remotely qualify for. Also, home to Neve Campbell. Whom no one know where she is anymore. I’ve been in Portland now for a little over 20 years with a short 3 year hiatus to the Garden State with my wife and a new job that she had taken there. I’m happy to be back!
AOW: What is your favorite thing about Portland?
So many things. The very first time I ever visited here, I felt at home. I’d lived in Florida, Idaho, and of course Ontario prior. It just felt right. I love the food scene, I love that Portlanders are willing to try new things and not just keep doing what’s been done. There is definitely a sense of openness here that you don’t find in most place. I love that.
AOW: What is your favorite spot or thing to do in Portland?
Go to Ruby Jewels Ice Cream on Mississippi. No better ice cream on the planet (and for the record I don’t know anyone involved in that venture!). Every time I’d come back to Portland on a business trip from NJ I’d stop there to get the Salted Dark Chocolate with Caramel. If it’s not eating ice cream it would have to be exploring the numerous neighbourhoods in the city. And yes, ‘neighbourhoods’ is spelled correctly. I speak Queen’s English people. 😉
AOW: How long have you been working as a professional photo booth company owner?
We’ve been doing this a little over 4 years now, almost 5! Wow, time flies.
AOW: What people/training/experiences/opportunities led you to this career path?
A chance encounter with our very first booth (The Photo Graffiti Wall). I had heard about this booth via a friend and, truthfully, it sounded like the most uninspired thing in the world. We were at a conference about 3 months later and the company that made the booth with there for an evening social. I just about lost my mind when I saw it! It was so amazing! I kept the poor guy there until almost 2:30am. He had to drive back to LA from Las Vegas that same night. I sort of feel bad. Though they did get a sale out of it! That led to more and more booths. It’s the equivalent of a shoe fetish I think. I’ve been involved in the event business for over 12 years now and this seemed to be a natural evolution of it.
AOW: How would you describe the importance of your role & why do you feel a couple should hire a professional photo booth for their wedding day?
We’re full time at this and you really need to be. It’s not something that can be done properly as a hobby or weekend warrior type deal. There are so many things involved. It still surprises me to this day how much work, detail, and time goes into the simplest of photo booth events before we even arrive on site. Outside of that, just having back ups of absolutely everything ready to go in case you need it. Technology can be fickle my friends!
AOW: What is the best part of your job?
Can I pick more than one thing?? If I had to pick just one it would be the onsite experience of having guests at or in the booths. It’s so much fun! Handing them their pics would be a close second followed closely by having them experience something that they’ve never done before with a booth (slow motion video, animated gifs, light painting!).
AOW: What do you find most challenging about your specific line of work or weddings in general?
The pressure that we put on ourselves to exceed our client’s expectations. That’s terribly cliche sounding but it’s so true. There’s nothing better than getting an email, call, or letter from a client telling you that everyone is still talking about you. We have a very “we can do that” attitude and will always find a way to deliver what the clients wants.
AOW: Do you work solo or do you have a studio and/or team?
I have a staff of 6 who work with me on a part time basis. We’ll have a full time designer in the next month or so and by holiday will have another full timer to manage the booths in the shop.
AOW: What do you attribute to your success as a photo booth company?
A: The ability of clients to reach us 7 days a week and our onsite service. We respond quickly with answers to their questions. You’ll hear from us right away. B: Selection of booths. We pride ourselves on the variety of booths that we offer along with a tremendous prop and backdrop selection. And if we don’t have it, we’ll get it for you!
AOW: At what point in the wedding planning process should clients hire you?
That’s a bit of a moving target! We’ve literally done a wedding the same day when the other company canceled! I don’t advise this – lol. Ideally, if you have a specific date or booth in mind, the earlier the better. The time of year affects it greatly. If your wedding is in July or August – now! Those months are just crazy…
AOW: Where do you draw inspiration? Are there any current trends that you are excited about?
From the photo booth community itself. It’s a very supportive group and a very exciting field to be in. I’m currently obsessed with light painting (so beautiful and fun!), VR360 photos (mind blowing!) and animated gifs and boomerangs. Digital technology is driving the creativity level beyond simple photos and what people can do with a photo booth. Some of the work I’ve seen is just spectacular and we’re helping contribute to that.
AOW: What is the most important thing that couples should ask someone in your profession before hiring them?
Details, details, details. Do you have back up staff? Back up equipment? Ask about the printers, cameras, and the lighting that’s used. Photo booths can run the gamut from very, very poor quality units to incredibly complex units. There’s a huge difference in booths and services.
AOW: What is your best advice for wedding client?
Take the time to enjoy your day and don’t put pressure on yourself for it to be perfect. Have fun and take in your friends, family, and the experience. While it’s an important day, it’s just one of many you’ll have together. Remember it.
AOW: Anything else you’d like couples to know about you?
This question made me laugh out loud! 🙂 Should it be something weird? Serious? Random? Let’s go with all three. I put ketchup on everything. I’m a fanatical recycler. I’m a closet fan of Nickelback. That last one probably cost me a couple of gigs…
AOW: Thanks Tony! You made us laugh out loud too.