From the Museum of Ice Cream in San Francisco to the Rose Mansion in NYC, Instagram pop-ups have been increasingly popular in the age of the influencer. These “selfie factories” are created for people to elevate their pictures (and thus social media/blogs) through the use of creative and interactive backdrops. I was invited to check out the newest one – Happy Place in Boston – a couple days before it was open to the public. Since posting on Instagram featuring my favorite shots from our visit, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about what it’s really like in these places. I almost didn’t post this, but I want to be more real lately so here are my real thoughts on the reality of selfie factories.
I’ve only been to two of these so far – Happy Place and Rose Mansion. When we went to the Rose Mansion we thought it was really cool in theory: a whole floor full of nothing but incredible backdrops for our instagram and blog! But the reality left something to be desired. The lighting was often fluorescent and unflattering, and the scene inside looked very different from the photos we had seen on social media. It was clear that there were only a couple of rooms that really worked, especially if you’re adept at editing your photos after-the-fact, but the majority of the settings wouldn’t really work for high-quality shots on a curated instagram feed.
I feel similarly about the Happy Place pop-up in Boston. There were tons of different rooms, interactive settings and backdrops. Some worked, and some didn’t. You’ll see almost everyone post the yellow duck tub, the upside-down room, the confetti room, because those were the backdrops that worked best. But it was glaringly obvious that everything was really temporary, pretty dirty, and cheaply made.
If you’re good at editing photos, you can still get a few good shots here, but just know that it won’t look like that naturally. For example, see my edited shot from the upside-down room above and the actual lighting of the room below.
This upside-down room is actually really cool in theory, I just wish it was made more robust and cleaner. This was taken on a media day before it was open to the public, so it started off this dirty – it’s not from wear and tear of use.
One plus in this Happy Place review: It was pretty cool that there was a girl there who’s sole job was to help us come up with poses and remind us where to look and how to interact with this room – since it’s confusing once you’re in there to figure out how it will work once the photo is turned upside-down!
Want more before and afters? I’ve got you covered – here are some more below:
(Wondering how to get these edits? Shop these presets here!)
It took us about an hour to get through all of the rooms, and that’s with minimal other people to wait for since it was a preview/media day. It would be tougher and more of a time crunch to get these shots on a day where it’s open to the public.
I’ve heard that these places are great for families to go to, because the kids find it fun and interactive (the chocolate chips pop out of the giant cookie below). So it just depends on what your goals are here.
- It’s a creative & different activity to try out
- Fun with friends
- Can get a couple good shots with editing
- Could be good for families
- Unflattering fluorescent lighting in a lot of the rooms
- Majority of props / backdrops were dirty
- Confetti room was broken – the floor was supposed to blow up confetti and when we went only a corner of the room was working
- Couldn’t get a good shot in all of the rooms due to lighting, unfinished flooring, etc.
- Overpriced if you’re paying general admission ($30)
Overall, my Happy Place review is that it’s really what you make of it. If you bring a friend and can edit your photos afterwards, you can have a good time here. It’s something different, but don’t expect to get a ton of highly-stylized photos here. I personally feel like these places could benefit from being more robust, with higher-quality backdrops and props that are clean – and most importantly good lighting (which any photographer or influencer will tell you is KEY to good photos)! I’ve heard theories that it’s more for people who aren’t really influencers but want a similar aesthetic on their feed, so it’s stylized easily for that demographic.
Have you visited Happy Place or one of these selfie factories? What did you think?
If you liked this post, check out my post on the Rose Mansion instagram house in NYC!