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The Difference Between A Photographer and A Photo Booth (and why you need both)

No matter how much times passes, photos remain the best way to capture memories. It doesn’t matter if they’re digital photos, polaroids, or otherwise, having the ability to look back on a special moment is priceless.

That is why it’s important to be selective about the photography services you employ for your special occasions. To make an informed choice about who, and what, you will use to capture your event, you need to understand the difference between a photo booth and a professional photographer.

In this article, you will learn why both types of photography services are important at your event, and why each of them provides a different experience, and product outcome. 

So, let’s dig in and take a look at the roles of both a pro photographer and a photo booth for your event, and how each of them is important. 

First, let’s take a close look at each service individually:

The Role of a Professional Photographer at Your Event

Professional photographers are often enlisted at big events and milestones like weddings, for example. 

A pro usually knows everything there is about capturing moments in a way that transports the viewer to that exact moment. 

Years down the road, you can count on professional photographers to have given you clear, unobstructed, visuals of special moments you can share for years to come. 

Professional photographers understand things like lighting, depth of field, and exposure. They can look at a moment, in any environment, and adjust accordingly so the snaps they take, turn into perfect photographic memories. 

Pro photographers are usually mobile at your event. Meaning, they move about, capturing images throughout the flow of the event. Many times, they blend into the background, see things others may not see and capture those moments in a photograph forever. 

Think of a professional photographer as a fly on the wall at a wedding, for example. They have a keen eye for catching candid moments that can express the emotion of a moment. Often, they will capture guests enjoying themselves, dancing, and secret kisses between the bride and groom. 

Professional photographers tend to blend in with the event and aren’t often noticed. They become a fly on the wall, watching, listening, and snapping photos of moments that will live on forever. 

Different Types of Professional Photography

Photography is an art, and professionals are talented and gifted individuals who can transport you to your favorite memories over and over again, long after the event has ended. 

With that being said, like any artist, photographers have their own, individual, styles. Some photographers are more traditional than others, some are artistic journalists, or specialize in candid photos. Some pride themselves on taking a storylined approach to convey a message in a photo. 

The takeaway? Make sure you mesh with your photographer’s style before you hire them. 

When you select a photographer for your event, review their portfolio, and find one that matches the tone and style of your event. If you click with your photographer, you’ll be happy with the way they portray your event through their photos, when looking back. 


Choosing a Photographer

Knowing that each photographer has a certain style (or two) that they excel in, makes it easier for you to narrow down your shortlist of potential photographers for your event. Once you know what style you like, you can start asking questions to narrow down photographers even more. 

Remember, the role your photographer plays at your even is extremely important, and nothing is more disappointing than looking back at photos from your even that aren’t up to par with your expectations. So, it’s best to consider the following questions before you hire a photographer:

  • What’s their favorite type of event to shoot?
  • What kind of events (and themes) do you have experience with?
  • What kind of equipment do you use?
  • What is included with your package?
  • How will the photos be delivered after your event?
  • How many photographers are included?
  • Can I see your portfolio?


Professional Photography Trends

Photography trends are popping up all over. 

Think: baby announcements, first looks at a wedding, and who knows what the next will be. Photographers often have experience with trending shots that they can suggest to you for your event. 

A seasoned professional photographer will have an arsenal of trendy ideas for your event. They tend to keep up with pop culture and know what is popular for certain events. Ask questions about trends to make sure your candidate knows the industry!

The Role of a Photo Booth at Your Event

Now that you have a good grasp on everything you need to know about professional photographers, let’s take a look at the other half of event photography: photo booths. 

Most photo booths are stationary kiosks that take photos on their own, without a professional photographer (although they may have an attendant). 

The photos produced at photo booths are similar to the ones you may have taken in a mall with your friends. You’d get ready, pose, and a timer counts down, and the photo is captured. After, you’d get a printout strip of a series of photos. 

Photos taken with a booth can also be digital, stored, and shared on social media. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to photo booths. 

The photo is important, yes, but the experience is one of the most important aspects of a photo booth at any event. In fact, it’s purpose is not only to capture memories but also for entertainment. 

Guests find photo booths to be a nostalgic and personal experience. With a photo booth, there isn’t a photographer behind the camera, which may make the camera-shy guests more comfortable. Rather than posing for a person behind the camera, it’s simply a machine that snaps the pic. 

Photo booths are instant entertainment, meaning, guests can have their prints or digital files immediately, take them back to their table, and enjoy their keepsakes right away. 

Lastly, employing a photo booth not only allows your guests to have copies of their photos, but you’ll also have copies that you can enjoy after the big event! 

Different Types of Photo Booths

While professional photographers have different styles, photo booths have different options. You can decide on types of booths that suit your needs and your crowd. For example, In Light Photo Booths in Chicago has a variety of different types of booths to choose from.

Take a look at these photo booth options:

The Social Photo Booth: Creates stunning photos, gifs, and boomerangs that are social media-ready!

The Luxe Photo Booth: Sleek and classy loaded with backdrops, props, and customization options. 

The Glam Booth: With an 8 ft backdrop, this type of booth brings the red carpet to your event. Props are centered around the glamorous feel of Hollywood and it includes a beauty filter.

Green Screen Booth: Green screen photo booths allow for backdrop flexibility. So, no matter where you are, you can transport to your dream location with the snap of a photo. 

Mirror Booth: The mirror booth takes photo booths up to the next level with games, stamps, animations, touch screens, and digital props. The interactive capabilities of a photo booth like this are perfect for those who love to customize their own photos.

Enclosed Booths: Remember those mall photo booths? Slip back in time with a similar experience. Enclosed booths get you close and personal with your friends, coworkers, and family…plus it’s a tad more private than some of the other booths available. 

The different kinds of photo booths available go on and on, and it’s important to know that there isn’t just one kind of booth out there, and some are better for one kind of event than another. So, make sure that you know your photo booth vendor, and the options they can provide for your event. 

Choosing a Photo Booth Vendor

When you decide to add a photo booth to your event, you need to do your research. Always look for vendors who have the type of booth you are looking for because one size does not fit all. Also, ask the following questions before booking:

  • What packages do you offer?
  • What kind of booths do you have?
  • Does the rental fee come with an attendant?
  • How many hours is the rental for?

Make sure you understand everything that comes with your rental, and that the photo booth you choose is appropriate for your event, and crowd. 


Deciding on a Photo Booth vs Photographer for Your Event

Now lets put it all together and review the role of each side-by-side.

Guest Experience

There’s no doubt that a professional photographer will capture some amazing candid, and posed, photos of you and your guests. A pro can take these photos back to their office and create editing-magic with them to ensure everything is crystal clear and beautiful.

Pros can also help guests pose for the most flattering photos, while a photo booth cannot help in that area. 

A photo booth, on the other hand, is an instant gratification experience. Photos are snapped quickly and printed in real-time. The experience is similar to an old fashioned photo shoot…what you see is often what you get (unless you chose a customizable booth). 

Both experiences, and photo outcomes, are completely different, but equally exciting and necessary for any important event. 


Both professional photographers and photo booths provide snapshots of memories that will last a lifetime. Pros will deliver stunning candids and carefully select the best shots. In other words, they do all the heavy lifting when it comes to editing and delivering the photos. Unfortunately, all that magic takes some time to make…often it can take a few weeks to get your photos back (but it’s always worth the wait)!

As mentioned, photo booths, offer a quick turnaround and put a souvenir into the hands of your guests right away. If you’ve chosen a social media booth, they can be shared almost immediately!

Attendant and Photographer

In terms of the physical presence of a professional, you can get both with either option. A professional photographer can guide you and your guests through classic poses and catch moments you were too busy to notice. Pros come with professional equipment and will orchestrate shoots that take things like lighting into consideration.

With a photo booth, you get an attendant, who is just a professional but more knowledgeable about the operational aspect of the photo booth. A good photo booth vendor will include an attendant to set up and operate your photo booth. They will also be available to assist your guests if they are not tech-savvy and need help operating the booth. 

Do I Need A Photo Booth and a Photographer?

When it comes down to it, a photographer captures a moment in a photo, but a photo booth creates an experience for you and your guests.

Neither option can replace the other. And what it will come down to is your event and your guest experience. 

You need a photographer to be present and use their talent while you go about your day. And a photo booth is there for the guest experience, and to capture moments you may have missed while busy at your event. 

It’s a no-brainer…the best photographic coverage of any event includes both a photo booth and a professional photographer. Both options are of equal importance at your event, for two different reasons…and neither can replace the other. 

There, that’s settled. The only things you’ll still need to sort out are the stylistic type of photographer you like, the kind of photo booth you want, and which vendors to choose. 

No one ever said event planning was easy, but knowing you have both types of photography services in place ahead of time will lighten the load for you throughout your planning process. 

And when you get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the event itself, you can rest easy knowing you’ll have photos to look back on to relive the moments you missed…and the ones you’ll never forget.