Knoxville (and beyond) Wedding Photographer Matt Pavel is one of Tennessee’s leading photojournalistic wedding photographers.
We recently caught up with Matt to get the low down (aka inside skinny) about how he created his amazing 10×10 tradeshow booth…just so we could share his inspiration with all of you!
What size is your booth?
Most wedding booths are 10×10’ and here in the Knoxville area booths are mostly on a corner layout, (think of a bunch of plus signs from above laid out in rows). So I designed this booth to be 10×10’ to fit the standard.
What materials did you use to construct the outer frame and exterior walls of your booth?
The walls of the booth are made up just like a wall in your home, except anywhere I can I used lighter materials. The structure itself is framed up just like a standard wall using non-treated (lightweight) 2×4’s and nailed with studs every 24inches, just a little wider than your wall studs at home to save weight. I got the idea when I was working as a digital tech in Dallas for David Lyles, a commercial photographer. Up until then I didn’t realize something: All of those pictures you see in magazines like Peir 1, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, JC Penny… Every one of those images where it looks like it was taken in a bedroom or a living room, those are all just sets made up of moveable walls that the photographer keeps in the warehouse and pieces together to make a scene. Even when you see bushes and light outside the windows, those are just bushes on casters and artificial light! So I took my queue from commercial work and put it to use on set design for wedding bridal shows.
What is the green material on the left wall?
The green material on the left wall is called bead board. It is just a cheap (and lightweight of course) version of drywall. Sometimes they use it in mobile homes I think instead of drywall. Then I painted it green with some leftover paint from my kitchen.
What is the ‘branch’ material on the right wall?
The right is also made of bead board, except this one doesn’t have the pin stripes, it’s just a smooth glossy finish. After I had the wall all framed up I took it into the grass with some leftover buckets of paint and my family and I tried to turn it into a sort of Pollock art piece.
How are you putting the two walls together at the corner?
You will definitely need a partner to set up a booth like this. To hold the walls together at the corners I temporarily used a C-clamp and then used a screw gun to drive long deck screws in to hold everything up.
Is the wood piece across the top used to stabilize the booth construction or just for the lights?
The light bar across the top serves two purposes, it was used at first to stabilize the whole project. It wasn’t really necessary but I just couldn’t take the risk of someone bumping into the whole thing and it come crashing down. So the bar keeps everything sturdy, but then I added track lights, which gave it another function as well and really made sense to give light and pop to the whole booth.
How do you hang your photographs to the wall?
Hanging the large frames to the walls presented a small challenge as the bead board wasn’t thick enough to support the weight of a frame. So I came up with a solution by placing a small block of wood on the backside of the bead board where the screw for the frame came through. This added just enough support for the heavy frames.
Is the booth modular? If so, how many pieces/sections? Can you explain step-by-step how you set up your booth?
The booth is modular! If you are going to make one of these you really will need a big garage or some sort of large flat working surface. The walls are each 10’ wide and 8’ tall. I decided to make each wall separate into two pieces, one 6’ long section and one 4’ long section. But if I had it to do all over again I would suggest each wall be split into three sections. The walls were framed on the floor using nails then the bead board went on using a brad nailer. After that I realized the walls wouldn’t even upright in my garage because they were too tall, so I would have to wait until the bridal show to see how it all went together. The transport process was then complicated by a huge monsoon the day before the show so a U-haul had to be arranged to transport everything (this is one reason why I would suggest more modular pieces instead of less!). As far as setup at the show it went pretty successful. My wife helped a lot with the setup. We used furniture dollies to wheel the pieces into place and then she held one up while I clamped and screwed the others into place.
How long does it take you for set up and tear down?
I’d say setup took about 3 hours for the entire booth and teardown was slightly less. The hardest part was the puzzle of trying to fit everything back into the U-haul!
Do you rent the furniture/props? Are they items you bring from home or work? Other?
The furniture and props were all brought from the studio. The couches made a great place for clients to sit while they browsed the albums and the computer had a slideshow of my work as well.
Anything else you’d like to say about the booth…
If you’d like to make a booth like this the most important thing you can do is make some sort of blueprints, drawings, and just plan ahead. If I wouldn’t have had the right tools with me at the setup it might have turned into a nightmare. I even received a few looks when I got out the circular saw for a few last minute corrections!
P.S. Photography Booth Model by Matt
WOW – thanks Matt for sharing!
Do you have a booth worthy of sharing? We’d love to see it and possibly share it with others.
***Special thanks to Matt Pavel of Pavel Studios for this highly in-depth interview AND for all of the photographs featured here.