Since 1984, Los Angeles resident Brian Davis has weathered the storm of an up-and-down economy to make a living as a professional freelance photographer. His diverse slate of multi-faceted clients, ranging from Disneyland to USA Weekend Magazine and beyond, has made this in-demand shooter a popular hire in the City of Angels. Even though Davis has enjoyed a successful career, the Southern California native is the first to admit that the life of a freelancer can be a tough gig to navigate. So, when Brian sussed a way to branch out, he grabbed the opportunity.
Enter Lucky Photo Booth, an upscale photo booth concept meant to be rented out for corporate parties, high end weddings, elite fundraisers and the like. It was created by Davis, a visual artist who built this business from the ground up. For two years, this innovator worked day and night to create his vision. He researched the concept, drafted the unique Art Deco look of the booths, came up with the sophisticated photographic equipment and lighting system, unearthed the often elusive materials, which includes a leather jump seat from a 1929 Ford Roadster and hand-crafted red velvet curtains from a Hollywood scenic studio, and finally, erected a truly handsome photo booth.
Brian Davis discussed the finer points of his most recent effort, which has been in smooth working order since 2011.
Why did you start this offshoot of your original business?
I still love being a photographer, but this job definitely has its financial ups and downs. Over the years, I have seen clients come and go. It’s the nature of the photography business. When the recession of 2008 hit, I realized I had to reinvent myself.
What was your inspiration for creating a luxury photo booth business?
Actually, I can thank my daughters for needing me to drive them to and from all kinds of teen events, especially to parties for bar and bat mitzvahs. Each seemed to offer a photo booth for guests to use and enjoy, and gave them a souvenir to take home. They were fun for the teenagers, but they did not offer high quality; not in the look of the booths and not in the quality of the photo strips that they produced. After researching a bit, and not finding what I was looking for, I realized that another niche market for these photo booths exists. A market that is upscale. That is more discerning. That is directed toward adults.
How many photo booths do you have and how many people work at each event?
We have two identical booths. It takes two people to load and set up the booth for each event. As of now I have a crew of five guys.
Do you consider yourself an entrepreneur?
I am not your typical entrepreneur. I didn’t go to business school, I went to art school! What I am is creative and resourceful. Having been a freelance photographer for years, I am experienced on how to run a small business. This was very helpful as I think people who have only worked for other companies might be scared to make the leap to being an independent business owner. The truth is Lucky Photo Booth was born out of necessity, and seeing a need that I could fill. And I think my timing was right. It seems people are partying more than ever and photo booths are as much a part of a party as the food and bar. I also think people really like the tactile element of walking away with an actual printed photo in this digital age.
How do you see any expansion of your Lucky Photo business?
I would like to see Lucky Photo Booth expand to other cities outside of Los Angeles. I am researching how this can happen within different business models. I have had interest from people in other states looking to own or operate the booths. It’s exciting to think of the possibilities!
This article was written by Jane Lasky for CBS Small Business Pulse