Local businesswoman brings smiles with mobile photo booth

Miranda Moses

With a multitude of degrees, a knack for making old things new and a 1968 Shasta camper, entrepreneur Leslie Reeves is quite literally a mother on the go.

The outside of the Weathered Oak photo booth is true to the original camper design. Leslie Reeves completely refurbished the camper her father gave her using her interior design background and made it into a traveling photo booth. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

Reeves has created her own innovative photo business with the goal to make a joyful impact all across Northern Colorado with the Weathered Oak Mobile Photo Booth.

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To celebrate the end of her educational journey, Reeves father, Paul, gifted her a camper in December of 2016. The next August, Paul passed away and Reeves began making the camper into the Weathered Oak with him in mind.

“I love being in the camper, it reminds of my dad,” Reeves said. “When I was doing this project, I think that’s really the reason why I finished it because I did it in memory of him. So, this whole thing makes me really happy.”

Reeves has earned a bachelor’s degree in bassoon performance from Oklahoma City University, a master’s degree in bassoon performance from UCLA, a master’s degree in music therapy from Colorado State University, and a degree in Interior Design, as well as certificates in kitchen and Bath design and architectural drafting from Front Range Community College.

I really like to connect with people and community and see people smile. I had the nickname ‘Smiley’ in high school, so I’m like, ‘Why not have a photo booth where people smile all the time?'” -Leslie Reeves, creator of The Weathered Oak photo booth.

Due to water damage, the camper was once unusable for camping or road travel. Reeves renovated the camper for 10 months in order to turn it into what she describes as a ‘glamper photo booth.’ The antique has since been transformed into a chic space Pinterest junkies would fawn over. The mechanism is completely gutted and refurbished, with the original red ’60s exterior being one of the only aspects of the camper that remains unaltered.

Including a sound system with unlimited song options, hardwood floors, LED lighting, adjustable heat and A/C and multiple photo backgrounds including a green screen and radiant sparkles, Reeves put hard work into making the space posh and enjoyable for guests.

“I really like to connect with people and community and see people smile,” said Reeves. “I had the nickname ‘Smiley’ in high school, so I’m like, ‘Why not have a photo booth where people smile all the time?’”

Bethany Cloud, the taproom manager at Odell Brewing Company, has worked with Reeves at several events. According to Cloud, Reeves demonstrates admirable and creative dedication to her business. 

“I think what people most enjoy about what the Weathered Oak brings to other businesses is the character and charisma that the entire experience has to offer,” said Cloud. “From the outside presentation, the attention to detail in the photo strips and background, the Weathered Oak has an event presence of its own.”

While guests can upload their DSLR-quality photo strips and gifs to Instagram and Facebook, they can additionally enjoy the camper’s vintage, homey aspects.  Reeves likes to recycle and keep things out of landfills, so many elements of the camper are reused to maintain a balance of modern and cozy. Inside the camper includes old barn wood from Laporte, and various reusable props for each event are held in shelves made out of thrifted suitcases.

“It’s really neat because it has that whole camping vibe of Colorado, with the vintage aspect that is so cool, but also modern,” said Reeves. “I never see things as they are intended to be, like making a camper into a photo booth. People don’t expect that, so when they go in the camper they get the unexpected.”

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The inside of The Weathered Oak photo booth contains lots of fun props and backdrops. Leslie Reeves completely refurbished the camper her father gave her and made it into a traveling photo booth. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

The dedication to the unique business is also fueled by Reeves’ desire to be there for her two children. The single mom of six years said that she has always been a lifelong creative, originally pursuing a full-time career as a professional bassoonist, but weekend and night hours took too much time away from what matters most.

“My boys are my world,” Reeves said. “So I love to have something where I can support them and also be flexible for them and spend time with them when I have them.”

Reeves also uses the camper to teach her sons about money and responsibility. Tobin and August, ages 7 and 10, sometimes sell popsicles outside the camper at events. Reeves said her oldest told her that he wants to work for the Weathered Oak with his mom when he turns 16.

The name “‘The Weathered Oak” represents Reeves’ efforts to continue being positive and was inspired by the time in which she experienced divorce.

‘Oaks’ is her mother’s maiden name, and the oak tree, Reeves said, is a symbol of strength. As she studied more about oak trees, she found that the more weathered and beaten they were, the stronger they became. When they do die, acorns are left behind to bring life again.

The Weathered Oak’s emblem, Reeves said, represents the circle of life with the leaves being the friends she has made along the way.

“I thought, ‘Well, that’s perfect for me,'” Reeves said. “I was going back to school as an adult and as a mom, and really ready to put everything I had into this business. At that time I had put three years into schooling while being a divorced single mother and got a job at an architecture firm as a designer, and realized that that isn’t all there is, sitting behind a desk all day. I need to be able to be with my kids and enjoy life and travel and make more of a difference for other people.”

The Weathered Oak premiered at Odell Brewing Company for FOCOMX in April and has since set up camp for multiple events including Fort Collins’ Cinco de Mayo celebration and Realities for Chilren. The business is currently open for bookings into next year with customizable photo strip and prop options for an array of events.  

“I see this camper as not just a photo booth,” Reeves said. “It’s an experience. People walk in and they have music and they have friends and they have these photos, these memories that they make. What a cool thing to be a part of.”

Collegian reporter Miranda Moses can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com and on Twitter @mirandasrad.