Many people assume that professional photoshoots can only be done in a proper studio by skilled photographers wielding their thousand-dollar DSLRs.
So, would you believe us if we told you that these sleek shots can actually be taken yourself with a simple click of a shutter trigger?
Cue Dollop Automat Self Studio, a new self-portrait studio set up by Dollop Photobooths, where you can snap some professional photos sans photographer.
Though they're common in Korea, it's only recently that more of such studios started popping up on our shores. (Another popular one is Fotomat Studios, which opened in April.)
Dollop's studio was actually first launched as a pop-up, but it seems like it was a huge hit because they eventually decided to move to a permanent location at Seah Street in June.
In fact, the studio is so popular that you typically have to book your slot days in advance — most of the slots were fully booked when we were booking ourselves a session on their website.
And it's no wonder, because a basic package here costs just $30 for two pax. There's plenty of flexibility too and patrons are given the freedom to take unlimited shots with their choice of a black or white back drop. At the end of it all, you also get to take home four 4R photo prints for the memories.
Additionally, you can opt to have other add-ons:
• Digital files (black & white $30, black & white and colour $40)
• Additional pax, which includes two extra 4R prints ($10)
• One 4R print $5
• One 6R print $8
• Contact sheet of 12 frames in 6R ($10)
You can choose whether you'd like to include any add-ons on site after you are done with the shoot.
15 minutes flew by too quickly
While the experience is very wallet-friendly, the folks at Dollop certainly don't scrimp on the set up.
The small but cosy private space was professionally lit with studio lighting and a DSLR camera is used to take the photos. There were also a variety of props such as vintage suitcases, photo frames and even a ladder that you can use to add a quirky touch to your photos.
Prior to our photo-snapping frenzy, the friendly staff showed us how to use the shutter trigger and encouraged us to rearrange the props to our liking.
After which, my colleagues and I were given complete free rein over how we wanted our photos to be taken.
We first started out by experimentally pressing the shutter trigger's button to see how it worked and then, we wreaked havoc.
After 15 minutes of excited squealing and chaotic poses, a timer went off to indicate that our session was over.
Then, we were ushered outside to the photo printing area which consisted of a desktop and printer. Here, patrons are able to select the photos that they want and these will be printed out immediately with just one click of a button.
This is honestly the most stressful part of the entire process, especially if there is another group of people having their photos taken after you, meaning that you'd only have 15 minutes to make your decision.
If you're still in the mood to take more photos at this point, like we were, you can top up an additional $10 for a contact sheet.
This comes with 12 frames and you don't have to use any shutter trigger — once you press start, the machine will automatically run on its own, so prepare yourself and don't miss a single shot!
After this is over, the contact sheet will be printed out in 6R. Additionally, you can email the gifs and pictures to yourself after the session.
Perks of using a self-studio
One thing that I absolutely detest about professional photo studios is having to pose and smile in front of the photographer.
This makes self-studios like Dollop perfect for introverts and camera-shy individuals like myself because you don't have to worry about someone watching you shuffle around awkwardly in front of the lens.
The arrangement allowed my colleagues and I to completely let loose and we ended up with a plethora of fun — and mostly unglamorous — shots that we probably wouldn't have dared posed for had there been a second party watching us.
However, while the studio space is cordoned off from the photo printing area, do note that it's not entirely private. People waiting for their photos to be printed can still peek at you have your photos taken as there is no door but generally, we didn't have any issues with this and no one came to disturb us.
Another perk would be how convenient it is. Everything can be done within half an hour and the photos are printed immediately on the spot so you don't have to wait around.
And of course, there is the price point. The sessions here at Dollop are relatively affordable as compared to professional photo studios and Dollop's principal photographer, Jonah Sun, tells us that they even see the same patrons come back multiple times.
So, will we be back? Definitely.
Address: 30A Seah St, Level 2, Singapore 188386