December 13, 2007


We’ve got more information to follow up on our previous note about Irene Stutz and her book Das Einfränklerimperium: Die Geschichte der Schnellphoto AG, or The One-Franc Empire: The History of Schnellphoto AG. Irene was kind enough to provide us with a description of the book in English as well as some images from the book itself.

The book tells the story of Schnellphoto AG, established and lead for many decades by Martin and Christoph Balkes. For one franc per image strip, the brothers provided the whole contry with square passport pictures — their machines became a national cultural treasure, their company a veritable empire of one franc coins. Since the end of 2006, the photo machines have been demolished and scrapped since the special photographic paper is no longer being produced. As analog machines are being replaced by digital ones, the original “snapshot character” is being lost through fun image settings and verbal instructions. But it was exactly the austerity and sobriety of the “photo machines” that triggered the desire for spontaneous self-representation.

The book will be published by Scheidegger & Spiess in Zürich, and it looks like it will be available through the publisher’s website as well as Tonight, Irene will be having an opening for her new book in Zürich, which qualifies as the coolest photobooth-related event of the year, and we hope to see photos from the evening soon.

Images and text courtesy Irene Stutz


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