One year after the launch of her business, Mariam Turki talks to us about the ups and downs of managing the only photo booth in town.
A few questions hovered over the 26-year-old’s head, much like the props used in her trade, when she and her fiancé brainstormed about starting something different in Bahrain. Once Mariam Turki suggested the introduction of a photo booth, she hasn’t looked back.
Issam Kerriou, now her husband, offered his creative skills as a designer and took up the initiative of building this box from scratch. For a device so small, it has travelled to countries like Greece and Qatar for weddings. Today, it has improved several corporate events, birthday parties and bridal showers. “Prior to the launch, I was afraid of how people might receive the concept as it was new to the Kingdom. I didn’t know what to expect,” Mariam admits. “At the end of the very first gig, a wedding to be precise, the photo booth had taken nearly 700 pictures. It was an instant hit.”
Aptly christened Elephant photo booth, the name is a play on the saying “elephants never forget”. People love pictures and it is that hankering which Mariam Turki targets. However, she has more things planned for this equipment apart from being a part of big bashes.
“Initially, my idea was to use this as a marketing tool to promote new products and advertise them in a unique way. Unfortunately, corporate clients don’t accept or just don’t understand the concept”, she says. “I wish they would know how to use it to their advantage. Even if it is a new shampoo or any other product, there is always a creative way to apply the photo booth for a campaign.”
The beauty of this machine is that it is all about you. Click your own photo after prepping up with a choice of props from those available; see it instantly, on a 50-inch TV screen or an iPad. It advocates spontaneity and pure madness. This results in unforgettable, hilarious moments in life that you can treasure forever.
“There is no room for embarrassment as you’re the photographer. A box will not judge you or make you feel uncomfortable,” Mariam says. “People are at ease. They’re lively and often crazy. The idea is not to be striking usual poses.”
She takes up all kinds of events. However, she advises against being a part of birthday parties for children below the age of four as they will not understand, remember or enjoy the concept. Mariam is constantly updating her collection of props by either shopping online or fetching unusual pieces while travelling overseas.
She even introduces customised props based on the event. For instance, she had “UniF1ed”-themed tyres and flags as part of the Formula One Grand Prix.
Business officer at BNP Paribas by day, this go-getter is also a part of The Dreams Society, a non-profitable organisation formed to help young patients who need urgent support.
According to Mariam, this venture has only begun. The team has only recently launched the video booth where people can record a few words during an event, which will be compiled as a complete video at the end. In a year’s time, you can expect to see the Elephant brand expand to accommodate full-fledged photography and videography branches as well.