Behind the front desk, a sign says “be mine” in bright pink lights on the pink floral wall that welcomes visitors in. Down the aisle are numerous walls for each booth that awaits. Tall, bright photography rings stand on the edge of each room, and pop music plays in the background. The newest photography studio that anyone can use to release their inner child is now here in Hampton Roads.
Ben Hyser, a native of Hampton Roads and the owner of Selfie WRLD in Virginia Beach, launched the business on Jan. 23 next to Lynnhaven Mall. Selfie WRLD styles itself as “one of the most instagrammable places” on the East Coast. People can immerse themselves in fifteen fun, eye-catching and interactive art installations that have decorative furniture and accent walls for $20 general admission.
“If you look at Hampton Roads, there are 1.2 million people, and we tend to lag compared to the rest of major cities in terms of entertainment and artistic options. It seemed easy to bring Selfie WRLD here and give something new,” Hyser said.
At the front desk, a Bluetooth clicker is given to sync with clients’ phones to take pictures from the stand when clicking the button. Each station has its own phone stand attached to a photography ring light for capturing photos.
“One of the things that I like about it is that it seems to wow people for the price. I know that we could probably charge more and get away with it if we wanted to, but I want everyone to come in and see all the different scenes and leave amazed for the price that they paid with how much they got out of it,” Hyser said.
Each room has unique themes that separate themselves from each other with different colorful walls, bright lights, decorative furniture and interactive props that make a picture come to life and speak a thousand words.
Freshman Mikayla Moscatell and senior Caroline Domo shared their experiences and distinct favorite photo booths at Selfie WRLD.
“My favorite booth was the paint-splattered room because it had swings inside of it. Before I even bought my tickets to go, I knew that was the one I wanted to get pictures of. I also liked the diner-themed setup,” Domo said .
Moscatelli said, “My favorite booths were the basketball hoop and the wall sign saying ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy’. The basketball hoop has LED lights going around it that flicker different colors, so you get different colors with every picture.”
Due to COVID-19 health guidelines, the newly-opened business venue enforces that masks must be worn when moving to a different booth, but can be taken off inside the art installation room. After leaving the booth, staff members sanitize the station before another person or group can take photos. Selfie WRLD’s capacity limit is 20 people an hour, and they had to turn away many walk-ins on the weekend. Hyser strongly recommends that people book their appointment online
Selfie WRLD Virginia Beach has 3-5 seasonally-themed booths that Hyser plans to change every 2-3 months. Hyser also has ideas to bring new rooms to the establishment later this year.
“A lot of people were questioning me about a jungle room, so I’ll do a jungle room. I want to do a ball pit, but that’s COVID-permitting. Once it’s not a huge deal, I can do the ball pit. I’m doing something with Harley-Davidson for the 4th of July to do Americana-themed pictures. It should get bigger and badder as we go on,” said Hyser.
Moscatelli and Domo shared their impressions of their photos and recommendations to go and make the most of time at Selfie WRLD.
Domo explained that “I definitely took a lot of pictures. They have large, high-quality ring lights set up in every station. And for people that would prefer to come by themselves and take their own photos, they have handheld clickers to take pictures each time you press it. I was really impressed by the quality, lighting and effort that was put into decorating and designing each room.”
Selfie WRLD also provides a changing room in the back at the end of the aisle for those who would like to change into different outfits for their photoshoot.
“It’s just fun, especially with COVID-19 right now, lots of people have cute outfits in their closets that they’ve been wanting to wear with nowhere to wear them. It’s a pretty good excuse for people to show off their outfits in fun different ways,” said Domo.
“I would make sure to wear something you like. Find something or stuff that you like to do and find ways to incorporate it into your pictures. Bring a few friends with you so you can have fun pictures together to make memories,” suggested Moscatelli.
Bring friends, family, a date, or just yourself and a phone or professional camera to experience different themes while striking a pose. Purchase tickets online at selfiewrldvb.com to reserve a time slot at Selfie WRLD by Lynnhaven Mall. Time slot reservations can be rescheduled for a different date or time at no charge and visitors should arrive 15 minutes prior to check-in. Selfie WRLD Virginia Beach is located next to Lynnhaven Mall at 2720 North Mall Drive, Suite 136. Open hours are Tuesday-Friday from 2-9 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
“If people love taking pictures, then they will enjoy coming to Selfie WRLD. It catches moments of your friends and captures the best moments and image of you,” said Moscatelli.
By Tiffany Warren