Realtime Live Updating Event Photography
11 years, 2 months ago Posted in: Blog, Photography 1

I was recently asked to look into doing a realtime photobooth slideshow for an event and I wanted to share the things I have found that I think are going to make this a possibility.  Let me first set the stage by listing a few requirements for our project:

  • We will have a photobooth set up at our event
  • We want to allow people to come over to the photobooth and have their photo taken
  • We want each photo to then automatically show up in a slideshow running on a projector

A few unknowns:

  • We may or may not have an internet connection
  • The projector might be collocated with the photobooth or it might be in a different part of the building

I have seen a few other blog posts about doing this kind of setup, but I didn’t find one that specified how they were doing the slideshow.  A lot of these tutorials also include the use of an EyeFi flash card to do the tethering to your computer.  I shoot with a Canon 50D which takes CF cards, and EyeFi has yet to produce a CF version.  I even tried to use a CF adapter for an EyeFi card a while ago and it didn’t work.  So EyeFi isn’t an option for me.  A few things I started out knowing:

  • I use Aperture as my main photography suite.  I know Aperture has a Tether feature to control my camera and run tethered photo sessions
  • I’m running Mac OS X (Mountain Lion) and I know of multiple ways to do slideshows
    • Use the slideshow screen saver
    • You can also do a QuickLook on a group of photos, go full screen and then start a slideshow.
    • Build a slideshow in Aperture

Those slideshow options are great if you already have all your photos you want to show, but for us, we don’t have any photos yet!  I had hoped that the screen saver slideshow would just work and that it would add new photos to the slideshow if they showed up in the same directory, but after testing it, I found that wasn’t going to work.  So my search continued. My first few attempts on google didn’t turn up anything.  I started debating writing my own utility to accomplish this live/dynamic slideshow.  Then I stumbled upon Photolive!   Photolive is a FREE Adobe Air app that does exactly what I need!  You point it at a directory, and hit go, and it will start your slideshow and pick up new photos as they are added to the directory just like I needed.

A few other notes:

We had two unknowns above that I needed to address:

1st: No Internet Connection – If we don’t have an internet connection, we need to be able to either run all of this on a single machine or set up an adhoc network between two machines.  The single machine is the ultimate goal and guess what?  Photolive will work in this scenario!  You can drag the Photolive application window to another screen and go full screen there and it leaves your other screen alone.  So I can have Aperture running on my main screen while shooting, and Photolive on the secondary (projector) screen.

2nd: The projector isn’t collocated with the photobooth – If the projector isn’t within cable distance of the photobooth, we need to airgap all the photos we are taking.  I see two easy ways to tackle this:

  • Dropbox: Assuming we have an internet connection, set up a Dropbox folder to save the photos to.  Then share this dropbox folder with a second machine that is hooked up to the projector.  Run Photolive on the second machine and when you take photos, they are saved to the dropbox folder, then synced to the other machine and displayed in the slideshow!  Done. 
  • Adhoc network: Assuming no internet connection, you’d need to set up an adhoc network and share a folder between the two computers.  I haven’t tried this yet because I’m confident that either the projector is right next to the photobooth or I’ll at least be able to tether to my phone for internet.

So there you have it.  A Realtime, live updating slideshow that you can use at your next event.  The biggest problem was the slideshow part and Photolive takes care of that like a pro.  A big thanks to the creators of that tool!