CAROLINA BEACH — Jason Ward has transformed his hobby of collecting old Volkswagens into a bonafide business on wheels.
In the Little Green Booth, partygoers can pile in, throw on a goofy prop, and have printed out 2-by-6 or 2-by-4 photo strips within seconds.
Along with fiancé Rita Poole, Ward tricked out a ’69 Volkswagen bus into a mobile photo booth that has been rolling onto the Wilmington wedding and events scene.
‘Wilmington’s first photo bus’
Ward fused his background in photography, his knack for collecting old Volkswagens and ingenuity to bring the Wilmington area its first photo bus.
“It sat in Calabash for years with no engine,” Ward said of the bus, that had been used as a sitting advertisement for Life is Good.
“I have a picture of me standing in front of this bus, 5-6 years ago,” Ward said. “I had no idea I’d own that bus.”
At the time, Ward saw its condition, and thought, “Poor bus, that’s going to end up in the junkyard.”
Years later, he noticed it sitting in a car shop on Market Street. He traded in an old Volkswagen that had been giving him trouble to reunite with the fateful jalopy.
Bus for a bus, the Little Green Booth is close to permitting Ward to transition away from his full-time gig to one where he man the wheels for a living.
On one of the back windows, Ward even kept one of the original Life is Good flower decals in the final design of the booth.
“It found me. I feel like,” he said.
“It was completely rusty,” Ward said. “I did all the interior, the paint job, the bodywork.”
“I came up with the name,” Poole said.
The couple worked with the Sweet Carolina Photo Bus in Raleigh, whose owner felt inclined to pay it forward after owners of a photo bus in Kentucky had shared their startup tips with her.
Fit with a professional ring light, photo booth printer, 35mm camera and custom bamboo interior that lines the ceiling, the bus is always photo ready.
“It’s a professional, strictly photo booth printer,” Ward said. “It only prints 2-by-6 and 4-by-6 and they shoot out like a vending machine.”
The bus can be booked for a flat rate at a wedding or event or can be tried for single use if you happen to find it parked at a local event or business.
People who stumble into the bus during a given event can email images to themselves, but in a digital world, it’s offering the real thing.
With stops at several local breweries and events behind them, Poole and Ward are grateful to the people and businesses that have been open to their venture.