It's a business that started as his and it's now ours. But it's not just any old business... it's a photo booth business which is run out of two old Volkswagen buses.
Not every VW can be a photo booth. In fact, John's first bus "Mater" didn't make the cut. He was a rusty bucket.
Then John found April in Spokane, Washington. She didn't have a motor, and she had bullet holes in the windshield. He had one month to get her up and running before his first event: VolksWeston, a VW Show in Weston, Mo.
With blood, sweat, and a few tears, John and a team of his friends worked on the body of the VW. His friend Angie even created the bus's handmade background and props. Sure enough, April was ready to go just in time for VolksWeston.
April was a hit. Everybody loved the idea of a photobooth in a Volkswagen bus.
Before long, John began receiving inquiries to book The Photo Bus separately from his wedding photography. That's about the time I came along... like John, I'm a longtime photographer with a love to travel but also a big heart in Kansas City. The idea of bringing something unique to events really appealed to me and the smiles I saw on the faces of people as they peeked in or took photos was contagious.
So, together we bought another bus and named her Mary Lou Blue. Now we both had a vintage and a restored bus for photo booth and VW enthusiasts to choose from, and we could be in two places at once.
And all was well... until smoke started coming out of the ignition on the drive from Wichita, KS back to Kansas City, MO right after we bought her.
That was just the beginning. On the very day Mary Lou Blue was finished, as she headed to the party being held just for her, she died. Mary Lou Blue had to be pushed through a busy intersection all the way to the venue with the help of our friends.
Thankfully we had plenty of time to get her there and get The original Photo Bus set up (alongside our friends' green Coffee Bus) and the event ROCKED.
Volkswagens are storytellers. There's something about them that brings people together. They can make everything seem a little more special. Sure, they've got an appealing shape, and yes, there's something so adventurous about them... but I'm going to take this even a little farther.
Unfortunately, they're also becoming harder and harder to find every day. Because here's the thing: it's not a matter of if they're going to break down, it's a matter of when they're going to break down.
When they do break down the repairs can be as simple as a dinky little 2 cent piece of plastic- or they can entail an entirely new engine rebuild or a new wiring system.
When The Photo Bus breaks down, we can't just put it in the garage and wait to fix it when we have the time and money to do so.
It needs to be fixed right away, because our Photo Bus has places to be and people to see... which is why we're asking you for your support. Help us keep these old ladies on the road!
Here is how your contribution will help us:
There are shorts in the wires of both of the buses. Shorts do more than just cause the headlights and taillights to turn finicky: they also can impair both turn signals and brakes, and lock down the windshield wipers. All of these little details make it unsafe to drive during the day, at night, and in the rain. So, these wires need to be replaced.
Mary Lou Blue also needs to be lowered properly (she wasn't when we bought her). April needs a complete engine rebuild and rust repair. They both need new floors, as the floors have seen thousands of shoes in all kinds of weather over the past 20 months and therefore they've seen better days. 100% of the money raised (after fees, taxes, and rewards are taken out) will go directly back to the buses for the current repair and repairs in the future. The $10,000 we're asking for just gets us started, but every contribution helps!
This Kickstarter isn't just about our love story in and because of The Photo Bus... it's about YOU, the VW fans... who love seeing these bread loafs on the road, YOU, the brides who are tired of the same old photo booth you saw at all your friends' weddings, and YOU analog curmudgeons out there... you know who you are.
The Photo Bus is our business. It's also a huge part of our life. We need your help to keep these girls running well.
The Photo Bus REWARDS!
This is a magnet AND a bottle opener! Perfect for your fridge and all of your photos from inside the #bestphotoboothever
Here's the koozie which will keep your drinks cold after you open them with the magnetic bottle opener pictured above!
The Roasterie Air Roasted Coffee is a company which has been roasting coffee beans in Kansas City for over 20 years. In 2012 when we first started taking The Photo Bus to events, they quickly became our biggest fans and even let us bring The Photo Bus INSIDE their event space. Now they let us create our own coffee blend for The Photo Bus, which we're offering to you!
The Poster: 18x24" screen printed on 100% American archival paper. Designed by Christian of BandWagonMerch in KC!
Here's the hooded sweatshirt you'll receive, which will keep you warm and snuggly on cool days!
Family Photo Sessions: Kickstarter special rate for a family photo session in 2014 with or without The Photo Bus in downtown Kansas City by John and Cate. The mini session (which we never offer!) is up to 30 minutes of time and 15 digital images with a print release. The family session is up to 1 hour of time, 30 digital images with print release... A $500 value! When the campaign ends, we'll send you an email and pick the date. Due to The Photo Bus events and weddings, we are typically not available for Saturday sessions March-November. We'll be in touch!
A discounted event rate: Beside the obvious reasons of why our photo booths are different, there are some hidden ones. We designed a button which allows the guests to take their own photos when they're ready so they aren't caught off guard. We always provide unlimited prints so each guest gets a copy. We send you the digital files so you can always have the memories of your fun colleagues, friends, and family members. And finally, we're always there to keep things running smoothly and to talk VW. Payment will be in full at the completion of the campaign, and we'll send a contract at that time.
TESTIMONIALS OF US AND THE BUS(ES)
I have known John for almost twenty years. When I got married, there was only one photographer who i would trust that day to. When it comes to great ideas way outside the box, John is the go-to guy. When it comes to wonderfully poetic artfully done imagery, John has an eye unsurpassed by those before or probably those yet to come. When it comes to someone who you can trust to have your back no matter the adversity, call John. So I can only imagine how exciting and absolutely poignant this endeavor will be... each experience WILL be remembered for a lifetime no matter the occassion or how crazy the photos turn out. How do I know this, just ask the over 4000 students I have taught over the last 26 years... and John stands out as one in 4000!!! Thanks for making my life better just for having you as a student, then as a friend on so many trips with our group to the Smokys, my photographer, and as someone who I count as one of my closest friends. Good luck, but luck will have nothing to do with it! You Igneous... I mean "rock". -Mr. R, John's 7th grade science teacher
My wedding would not have been the same without the Photo Bus! All my guests are still talking about how much fun they had in the Photo Bus, taking their own pictures and interacting with John & Cate. From a bride's perspective working with John was super easy and he was so accommodating to all my requests (props, background and personal touches). The Photo Bus was well worth it! -Kristy K, bride
They braved the frigid temperatures like champs! Everyone had a blast in the bus. -Cassie S, bride
John and Cate are an awesome team and together they took so many amazing photos at our wedding. On top of having awesome photography skills, they are great people. We recommend them to everyone we know! -Neely G, bride
People are still talking about how fun The Photo Bus was and are enjoying the pics online!! -April K, fundraising event
Our guests loved The Photo Bus! Everyone has a photobooth these days and The Photo Bus is a fun, unique and vintage twist on the popular trend. We enjoyed having John on-site, he answered questions for the curious guests and gave them each a print to take home. He was there all night and dealt with the kids taking pictures over and over and over. Finally, the best thing was John working with our Venue to get the Bus in, he went out of his way to make our event special. Thank you! -Mackinze, bride
The guests at our wedding had a blast with the Photo Bus! It is great for all ages! My grandparents enjoyed getting their picture taken and the kids had fun being goofy with the props! They all also enjoyed getting a copy of their pictures to keep. I would definitely recommend the Photo Bus for any event! -Allison, bride
I ran into you guys on one of the first "First Fridays" you had the bus. I jumped in the back seat with my girlfriend and we snapped a few pictures. They're still hanging on our fridge today. -Bob, KC
PS: Love our video? Michael Ransdell and the team at Blue Coffee Pictures put it together for us. Amazing. Ah-MAZING!
Risks and challenges
The biggest challenge we'll face once the project is fully funded is being able to set aside enough time in one block to get the work done on each vehicle. The Photo Bus is our primary source of income, and when we can't book events due to the bus being in the shop for repairs, we are losing out on that money which helps us pay our rent, eat, and of course entertain.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)