Car: Volkswagen Early Baywindow / Owner: Vince Hutchings / Photos: Vince Hutchings / Air Monkeys Magazine: Joe Eynon
Most businessess that use VW’s tend to be some sort of catering company, be it ice cream, cake, hot drinks or hot food, so when we heard about the Photo Bus we were intrigued to hear more.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Vince Hutchings, I’m 33 and work as a freelance photographer and owner of The Photo Bus
Where did the idea come from to have a photo booth bus?
As a freelance photographer my field is saturated with competition. I also have a passion for old dubs.
This gave me an idea to combine these 2 passions.
I’ve had numerous old Volkswagens over the years. 5 Bugs, Caddy, Mk1 Golf, Early Bay Westy Poptop, sliding door Split panel bus along with 2 T4’s and the vehicle before this bus, a T5.
The T5 was ok and I had it branded with my logo etc and it was working as a good promo base but I was getting an itch for an old bus and was considering the photo booth idea. It then dawned on me I could combine the 2! (and maybe add on wedding transport also!)
It’s not a new idea (photo booth in the back of a vehicle) but there were no photo booth campers that I could find down in the South West of England (arguably the mecca for old VW’s?!)
What sort of events have you done and what type are your favourite?
I do a lot of Weddings as I can loop it into my own Wedding photography packages but I have also done a few Vintage Fayres and corporate events.
Weddings are great as it’s quite a quirky concept, guests love it! Although the booth is self sufficient I stand by to make sure it’s running smoothly, handing out print outs personally. I love interacting with people using it. It’s popular for any age, from 5yr-95yr can jump in and use it without any instruction from me
What sort of reaction do you get?
People are always surprised that there is a booth inside, I designed the booth unit to look part of the bus (and also removable) so when you jump in you have maximum room. I find there is always a handful of people at events that have “a VW story” either themselves or they know someone who had one. (and yes I get the “Porsche engines are easy to fit” story a lot!)
Tell us a bit about your bus
The bus is a 1968 and is a French import. It was imported into the UK back in 2005 by the previous owner. It was in
reasonably good condition when it arrived, sadly the local council had other ideas! The bus was awaiting DVLA documents and was parked up outside the PO house. Some kids slashed the tyres over one weekend.
The council were called by someone who had seen an “old VW bus” on French plates with slashed tyres. They came round and took the bus away, but instead of nicely popping the bus onto a back of a lorry they slung chains around the body and lifted it on! (damaging some of the sills, roof and gutter in the progress!)
Luckily (to cut a long story short) it went to court and PO (with the help of her Insurance Assessor Dad) and they won. This meant the bus had a light resto and the at the same time all the damage was fixed.
The bus is now lovely and solid, it just needs a battery tray doing, as the alternator was previously cooking the battery and making it leak (I’ve now fitted a new alternator!) It runs a 1600TP which runs great (touch wood!)
Apart from general tidying/servicing, the only things I’ve done is to fit the 15” slotted Split wheels with the big logo caps, had the rack made, fit a decent CD player and my Wife has tidied and re-trimmed the interior. She runs a vintage sewing business (sewbloomincrafty.co.uk)
Pros and cons of having your own business?
I left a secure (well paid) job to start full time as a photographer, a massively nerve wracking, daunting decision with a family/mortgage that wasnt taken lightly. I was lucky that I left due to voluntary redundancy so I had a sum of money with me to support in the start of the business.
I’m now 16 months down the line and have no regrets at all! I have been involved in some awesome things. I remember someone saying to me that “if you have a job you love you will never work another day in your life” There has definitely been a few times where I’ve thought “woh, I’m getting paid for this!”
I freelance for some VW magazines which is awesome, taking photos and meeting owners of a scene that I love!
What would be your dream event?
It would be pretty awesome to do back stage at a big festival (Glastonbury etc) Get some music legends/bands in the booth!
Plans for the future?
I am completely re-designing the photo booth unit, I have some ideas but not decided 100% yet. As for the bus I will be soon fitting a new ply head lining and eventually getting rid of the Westy bed/wardrobe set up and changing to a full width bed.
Any interesting stories from your business so far?
Nothing major, my very first booking with The Photo Bus there were a lot of Scotsmen attending the wedding. There are some photos of that night I’d be happy never to look at again! haha
Tell us about a typical day for your business
It can vary greatly as I am freelance I could be on location at a shoot, sat at my computer editing/marketing etc or designing/making bits for The Photo Bus. I’ve made the booth myself and I’m currently making some rustic old school surf board shaped signs for the side of the roof rack and a light up “PHOTOS” sign for the top of the rack when at events.