I can’t tell you how excited I have been to share our latest Creatives Near You Interview with the ADORABLE and lovely couple behind The Photo Bus. I randomly met Cate when I was in KC for a
girls work trip. Instantly I was taken back by her beautiful smile and outgoing demeanor. Honestly, we only visited for a few moments, but I’ve been following her and John’s creative business ever since and I can’t get enough of this inspiring couple. Their Photo Bus is a photo booth inside a vintage VW Bus! Serving the Kansas City area The Photo Bus provides a unique and fun way to capture events with professional photography equipment, lighting, and unlimited printing!
I asked Cate to share a bit about the roll she plays with keeping The Photo Bus alive and well;
“John DePrisco, the owner (and my fiancé) likes to call me “the boss”. He was the brain behind this incredibly creative idea and he drives the bus to the events/runs the booth, but I do all of the behind-the-scenes from the booking to the prop making to the marketing. The whole idea started because of his wedding photography business (to be described below!) so that is also what we do when we’re not running The Photo Bus… wedding and portrait photography (and everything else behind-the-scenes that goes with it).” – Cate
Q1) What inspired you to create a photo booth out of an old VW BUS?
John came up with the idea when he was looking for a way to market his wedding photography business in a way that set him apart from all of the other wedding photographers. He grew up with vintage Alfa Romeos, and he really wanted one of those (just to have) but it was out of the price range. Joking with his industry friends one night he said he should put one of his photo booths in an old Volkswagen Bus. Well, they pressured him to turn that bar-talk in to reality and here we are today!
Q2) What’s the best business advice you’ve received that has helped grow The Photo Bus into what it is today?
As we were just about to launch The Photo Bus in two new metro areas (St. Louis and Dallas/Ft. Worth), we ran into a DJ friend of ours. He asked us to attend an event he was hosting and we told him we were unavailable (as people) but we could find someone to run the bus. He said, no thanks, because he’s not only hiring the service for what it is but the people to go with it. That really made us realize just how important WE as PEOPLE are to this business, as is our story. We can’t just hire anyone to help us run it as we keep growing… we need the RIGHT person with the RIGHT personality who can become part of our story… which happens to be part of the business. Some other advice we’ve been told is to keep work work and home home. We are SO busy and I feel like there are never enough hours in the day so if I’m not away from home or away from the office, I WILL keep working. (In fact, I’m always responding to emails from my phone or posting to social media… so really, I’m always working). With that being said, we have to schedule time just for us so we can spend time together and take the dog on long walks and plan our wedding. As an entrepreneur, it’s so easy never to shut down… but seriously, shut down.
Q3) In your opinion, what makes a photo booth photo great?!
Oh my gosh, I just love photo booths. They’re great at events because they give the guests something to do. They’re great for friends and cow-workers because it’s a perfect opportunity to let loose and be silly. And with our company we provide quality images and everyone gets a print… so not only is there an opportunity to be silly photobooths send the guests home with a physical memory from the party to put on the fridge or in their cubicle, etc.
Oh, now that I’ve said that, I realize I mis-read the question (but I like what I said!). I think what makes a photobooth photo series great is mixing it up… different props each time, maybe even different spots. The best photos are the ones which don’t look like photos I can take on my phone or “party pics”.
Q5) How do you balance running a business with your finance while maintaining a healthy and happy home life?
That’s a really good question, and we do find ourselves struggling with it quite often. We used to have our office at home which meant I was ALWAYS working. However, we always had a coffee date at our local coffeeshop a block away (which just so happens to also be our first date). Because I wasn’t ever relaxing we decided to move the office to our photo studio, also a block away from home. While we still find ourselves working late sometimes, we finally have a separation between the two locations… and we don’t work when we are home. We take breaks when we need to clear our heads and go on walks, and we always eat dinner (and usually lunch, too) together. Spending almost every minute AND running a business together has its challenges, but I don’t think either of us could imagine it any other way. (Even when we argue about it! Lol!)
Q5) Photo or not what has been your favorite Photo Bus memory thus far? Why?
John proposed to me in The Photo Bus (see video above!), so that’s by far my FAVORITE memory (we met at his 2nd public event with The Photo Bus 2 years ago!) With that memory aside, they all kind of seemed to blend together for a bit… there were 2 ½ other proposals (one was outside the bus, hence the half!), first ever family photos with newborns, first dates, many years of marriage, VW story after VW story, etc…. but then something happened the other day. When John first started this business he has always run it with the philosophy that he’d rather someone experience The Photo Bus VW Photo booth than walk away because they don’t have a dollar in their pocket. With that being said, we never charge the event guests for prints (either the event pays for us to be there and covers the cost, or we put out a tip jar asking for donations if it’s an event we are choosing to attend in our free time). I’ve been PERSONALLY criticized by a couple of people who claimed that is a silly business plan and there’s no way to make money that way (um, ok.). Well, just last week we were at one of those public events where we put out a tip jar. A man (who let’s just say probably doesn’t have a home and hopefully has seen better days but that day wasn’t one of them) came up to me to ask me about the bus. He was curious about the Volkswagen as it was, and then he was curious about the photos. I encouraged him to get in and take 4 photos (like I always do). He smiled, got in, took the button, and took 4 photos. I made him a print… and before he walked away he took a handful of change out of his pocket and thanked me. It was the perfect reminder of what we do, how we do it, and why we do it… and why we have no intention of changing it.
Q6) Who’s the better VW Bus driver?!
There is no question John is the better VW Bus driver. To date, I’ve only driven Mary Lou Blue (the blue bus, she’s mine!) once, and it was a block… because our mechanic made me. I’ve driven April (the red bus) twice… and it was terrifying. I can make it happen, but it’s not a pretty site as I’m swerving in the lane.
Q7) List 5 ways you keep creativity fresh in your day to day?
Oh man, this is really hard for me as I’m doing 50 million things all day long. There really is only 1 answer I can give, and it’s taking a break. If I never let my mind relax, I struggle with being creative. (Sorry that’s not 5!)
Q8) Describe a typical John and Cate date night?
A typical John and Cate date night is centered around food. Either we’ll cook (ie, John will cook, I’ll clean up!) or we’ll go to dinner. Our real dates happen when we’re on vacation (physically on vacation, as in a completely different place with an auto-reply on email!) because we’re actually shutting down from work. In that case, our dates are still centered around food. HA!
Please tell me you watched their Kickstarter Campaign Video before question 5!? If not you need to scroll back up and watch it! I love everything about this couple. Sometimes our ideas lead us down unusual paths, but it’s always fun to hear stories of people who took that journey in stride and made it work for them. Makes you wanna just push that random idea you have a little bit further and see where it takes you!?! You never know, it might just be that one thing that separates you and gives you a creative edge in your own market.
Thanks Cate for sharing more of your story with us and how you balance running a full-time photography business with everyday life. We wish you both the best in married life and hope maybe someday we can catch a double date at Quay Coffee!
From The Farm
Shout-out to our mutual friend Ali with Gimme Some Oven who introduced us! I’m jealous you two get to be neighbors!
2 Responses to “Creatives Near You: John & Cate [The Photo Bus]”
Leave a Reply