By Lorie Ann Cascaro
HONG KONG — Amid teeming monopods being sold cheap in the city’s street markets, locals still go to selfie studios for good quality photos. Banking on such demand, three entrepreneurs had savored success after the first year of its start-up company that stands for their youthfulness.
“Our name says it all,” Snaparty co-founder Vien Wong, 25, said Friday. It is a combination of “snap” that means taking photo and “party” as the place is also rented out for parties and meetings.
The company got its return on investment with a capital of 700,000 Hong Kong dollars a year after its inception in November 2013, said 26-year-old co-founder Alan Li.
Located in one of the old buildings in bustling Mong Kok district, Snaparty can hold up to 30 people.
It has two rooms as selfie or do-it-yourself studios, a living room with a sofa facing an LCD display screen connected to the Internet and Apple iMac desktop computer, a dining table and toilet.
The walls have shelves of stuffed toys, hats, party sunglasses and other colorful props for different occasions. Wi-Fi is available for everyone inside the room.
Each studio has customized tripod, DSLR camera, a stationary flash umbrella, LCD screen and a small sound system that can play mp3 files from both Android and Apple smartphones. Customers can choose their backdrop from painted canvas of various themes mounted on the wall.
Specifically designed for the studio, the tripod has wheels and holds a DSLR camera with levers to move it up and down, left and right. Instead of looking at the camera’s viewfinder, customers can see through the screen that can be adjusted up to 360 degrees to synchronize with the camera’s position.
After achieving the best angle, one can press the remote control button to shoot. Instantly, the picture shows up in the screen.
Having a pool of equipment that work well together is the key to have quality pictures and services, Wong said. Seeking professional advice was a good move, she added.
Kayu Chan, 24, also co-founder, is the photography master in the group, while Li, who works as bank consultant, takes care of the company’s financial matters.
Their cameras, Canon EOS 70D, are “not the latest, not the most expensive,” Wong said, but suitable for the environment with the flash umbrella and lights in the room.
“No need for Photoshop,” she said and laughed. Customers can automatically upload their photos online using the computer and/or print them through a compact printer, Canon Selphy cp800.
The printer was Wong’s choice as she has been using it at home and satisfied with its output quality. More expensive than the Canon, Fujifilm portable printer prints customers’ photos in the size of business cards, Wong said.
Printing costs HK$6 per 4R photo and HK$12 per business card size photo.
To rent a studio for an hour costs HK$100 with as many as 3,005 photos taken based on its customers’ record.
One of the first two selfie studios in Hong Kong, Snaparty remains afloat, thanks to word-of-mouth and free promotions online, Wong said, noting Phocus as the other company.
Since the recent holidays, the market has been saturated with at least 20 selfie studios that emerged in the city, Wong noted.
Photography is among the creative industries that are important in promoting Hong Kong’s creative economy, according to Hong Kong Ideas Centre’s study.
“But, we are not so optimistic on the Hong Kong market,” Wong said. Snaparty considered branching out in other countries, especially South Korea and Malaysia, she added.