Her name is April.
She's a 1970 Volkswagen Bus converted into a mobile photo booth with The Photo Bus written on the door. John Deprisco, a wedding photographer based out of Kansas City, came up with an idea to put a photo booth on wheels and create The Photo Bus from his Volkswagen Bus.
Tell me what inspiration went into creating The Photo Bus, where did the idea come from?
My inspiration began with my father. He collected the Italian sports cars, Alfa Romeo, and for as long I can remember our family had an Alfa, or two, maybe three. From this I grew to love cars and everything about them.
For about six years I have had photo booths. My booths have always been non-traditional in that I use an open air booth which allows my guests to take their own photos with a custom remote cable that a couple of buddies and myself make.
Then, two years ago I was looking for a creative and different way to advertise my wedding photography studio DePrisco Photo. I want to combine my passions of photography and cars, I started the search for a car that could also function as a photo booth. I finally found a 1970 VW Bus in Kansas City, Kansas and I instantly knew I had to have it because everyone loves a VW bus. In November 2011 it became mine and I gave him the name Mater, after the rusty tow truck from Cars. This bus was a rust bucket but I didn’t care, it was the start of The Photo Bus.
What have been some hurdles you have had to overcome to get the bus up and running as a photo both? Any drawbacks to creating a mobile photo booth vs. stationary?
There have been some hurdles I have had to overcome with a mobile photobooth. When I purchased Mater I didn't realize how bad of shape the bus was in, nor did I even really know where I needed to start to fix it. I then joined the Mo-Kan VW club, made some friends, and was able to start getting to work. I met John Warren of Shawnee, Kansas who has owned 15 VW busses and purchased his first one when he was 13 years old. I also met Brandon Jarrett who has a VW restoration shop in Lee's Summit called The Shop. These two guys are the main reasons that the bus continues to run. I call them my “mobile mechanics”,and both of them are very important for The Photo Bus. Due to the condition of Mater, John advised my to sell him and find a new bus. The search was rough, but we managed to find a new lowered 1970 VW Bus in Spokane, Washington in February 2012. There was one problem: we couldn't get the bus till mid-April. On April 16th, 2012, we left KC at 11pm and drove straight through to Sioux Falls, South Dakota where we arrived at 5am in the morning. The Bus arrived at 7am, we switched it to John's trailer and hit the road back to KC (because it was not in driving condition). As we drove home we started talking about names for the bus, and since it was made in April 1970, and we picked her on April 17th (which happens to be the same day my father passed away) we named her April, I think it's a pretty fitting name. We got her home and had one month until the Mo-Kan VW show in Weston, MO. John, Brandon, myself and others worked a lot to finish April The Photo Bus for her debut at Volks Weston on May 18th. There was a lot of work to be done, and we literally worked right till the afternoon on the 18th. If it was not for John and Brandon this project would have never happened. The Photo Bus owes many thanks to them.
So, the main drawbacks have been all of the work that has been needed to get the booth up and running since it is operating out of an old bus. Plus, I still offer a stationary booth, so if someone prefers that over the bus, it is an option. The mobile booth can be limited to where I can take it, due to the doorway size to enter a building and it still needs work to run properly. However, I usually have it up and running at Wine Walk on Delaware and First Fridays when if I’m not shooting a wedding. The Photo Bus has been to the Vox Theatre, River Market Event Place, The Bean Hangar, Union Station and The Guild KC. Everyone has been very welcoming and has loved the bus in their space.
Has this increased any business for you?
Since I began operating The Photo Bus I have seen a great increase in business, both with photo booths and weddings. Since May 2012, when I first started The Photo Bus Facebook page, I have nearly gained nearly 1300 Likes and it is growing every day. It’s pretty amazing there are The Photo Bus fans in 20 different countries around the world!
Craziest place you have had to park the bus for a gig?
The craziest place the bus has been and by far is inside Union Station here in Kansas City because it was a tough getting the bus through the doors. Brandon was there to help me on New Years Eve and I was so thankful because the bus is 68.5 inches wide, and the doorway was 70 inches. It was a close one but we made it just in time for a busy night of 20-25 people deep in line for 4 hours straight! That night we also had a couple get in engaged at 12:05am in The Photo Bus.
Every new place and event is an adventure…It's a fun job!