A party photo shoot used to mean posing in a booth or in front of a green screen with props. Today? Photo ventures have been elevated to include experiences such as 360-degree animations reminiscent of a red carpet operation, stop motions ideal for sharing on Instagram and, most recently to hit Long Island, backgrounds from buses that stop at your party. Take, for example, Long Beach Photo Bus.
The company, founded by husband and wife team Ann Lamore and Brendan Dwyer, launched in the summer of 2020 with a revamped mint-colored 1971 Volkswagen bus named Sammie and now also includes an off-white 1972 Volkswagen bus nicknamed Gracie . Buses hit the road and visit homes and local venues to take photos at milestone events, corporate meetings and “mini sessions”, where a photographer can hire the bus for their own photo shoots.
“I fell in love with it at my friend’s wedding” upstate years ago, Lamore, 40, recounts the first time she saw a traveling photo bus. This ultimately served as inspiration for her own business, which she originally planned to start after retiring from her full-time job at Viacom CBS (now Paramount). But, “this is my moment,” she says, adding that her husband, 55, encouraged her to open the business after the pandemic.
Both buses have a bohemian appeal and can be customized – inside and out – with seasonal or holiday decor and are available for three-, four-, or five-hour time slots. Props, photo strips, and a custom backdrop come with every plan, as do unlimited photos, a keepsake album, and access to an online gallery with free photo uploads. The buses are equipped with a photo booth type system that prints strips of photos on demand.
Lamore and Dwyer also pay close attention to detail outside the bus, creating a lounge-like space customized to customer needs for more photo opportunities.
Lauren Dayton, 28, and Reece Dayton, 30, who rented the Long Beach photo booth for their wedding last fall at the Jamesport Manor Inn, say they knew they wanted a photo booth at their wedding, but that they were looking for something funnier than what they were used to seeing.
Lauren says she struggled to find a company that offered more than “the typical generic background they usually have at weddings.” A Google search for “alternatives” to photo booths led her to the Long Beach bus.
“A lot of our wedding photos were taken on the bus,” she says, noting that “they really personalized it to exactly what we needed.”
Likewise, Kristyn Castaldo, 31, and Victor Panica, 34, booked Sammie for the cocktail and early hours of their reception at their April 16 wedding at the Stonebridge Country Club in Smithtown. Castaldo says she went to see the bus before her wedding was even planned and wasted no time booking it when she set a wedding date.
“Our wedding vibe is 70s, retro,” the bride says, adding that she was happy to find out a photo bus was part of the deal. “That way we got the best of both worlds. We could use it for our photos, for memories, and it’ll be a fun part of the day for everyone to see it.
The New York Photo Bus is also available for rental on Long Island and the surrounding area. He owns several restored Volkswagen buses from the late 60s and 70s. Madison Reyes, 36, owner of the New Rochelle-based company, says that with his buses he brings “a complete experience” that includes the music and lighting. “We provide a kind of whole world based on the customer’s vision to enter.”
The company pulls the bus for outdoor movie nights, weddings and more. He specializes in all things vintage, “sourcing around the country and the world for the real vintage interiors that would have been on those buses back then,” he says, adding that he doesn’t “do modern reinterpretations of interiors.” People are “interacting with real vintage technology”.
Eilis O’Connell-Sussman, 31, who booked one of her baby blue buses for her wedding at Gatsby On The Ocean at Jones Beach State Park in Wantagh can attest to that. She first booked the bus for five hours, but eventually got it for nine.
“It was like a second party outside because it had music” and other events, she says, adding that the camera setup is framed around an old-fashioned TV for a classic look. and that the exterior of the bus featured vintage design elements, too, like a ’70s wicker chair, vintage surfboard and suitcases, all of which added to the beach theme of her wedding.
PHOTO BUS PACKAGES
Long Beach Photo Bus: Packages start at $1,950 for three hours; $2,150 for four hours; and $2,350 for five hours. A 50% deposit is required upon signing the contract. Available year round; high season from April to November. More information: 917-301-9965; longbeachphotobus.com.
New York Photo Bus: Buses start at $2,500; cabins and drive-in nights at $1,500. All reserve between four and five hours. A 40% deposit is required to reserve the date. More information: 917-216-2403; newyorkphotobus.com.