THE PHOTOBOOTH BLOG

July, 2008

July 21, 2008

Big news in the photoboooth world, as Photo-Me International has sold off its American division, Reuters reports:

Photo-Me, which operates about 21,000 photo booths in railway stations, airports and shopping centres, said the sale of Auto Photo Systems Inc and its unit, Photo-Me USA LLC., would yield a small exceptional profit.

Photo-Me shares gained 13 percent to 13.25 pence at 0928 GMT, valuing the entire firm at about 48 million pounds.

No financial details were provided, but Photo-Me said the U.S. business, which operated 250 photobooths, or about 1 percent of its group total, made a pre-tax loss of 700,000 pounds ($1.39 million) on revenues of 1.2 million pounds in the fiscal year just ended.

Jean-Claude Perrottey, a former employee of Photo-Me, bought the business, the company said.

The USA has always been a limited market for ID photography and US vending has tended to be loss-making in recent years,” Photo-Me said in the statement.

We’ll see what this means for the 250 booths (a number that’s new to us) in the U.S. operated by Photo-Me. Thanks to Gary for the tip on this.

July 20, 2008

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We’ve got a lot of photobooth news to get off our desks and into the archive, so we’re putting it all together into one mega-post. First, we start with a video interview on MTV.com with Sub Pop’s vice president, Megan Jasper, as she gives a tour of the offices, including their in-house photobooth, not far from the soda machine that dispenses 75¢ Rainier beer. Nice. We’ve mentioned their booth before, and you can also check out more bands in the photobooth on their blog.

Secondly, we heard from Jeff from Comedy Photobooth, who let us know about the videos of comedians telling jokes inside photobooths — and if you were curious, all of the videos are shot inside photochemical booths. We’ve got the site listed in our Projects section now, and we’ll watch as it grows.

We’ve neglected to mention the ubiquitous Tonight Showphony photobooth,” a series of videos which show unwitting photobooth-goers being freaked out by a talking photobooth, but it’s out there, and everyone seems to have seen it. Along those lines, we came across another photobooth prank video, in which a woman in a photobooth asks passersby to hold articles of her clothing, and it becomes apparent she’s taking off all her clothes in the booth. The clip seems to have originated on a Fox reality show called “Sexy Cam” (anyone ever heard of it? No? Didn’t think so), and the booth setting looks suspiciously like a mall in Canada.

And speaking of Canada, on an altogether much more interesting note, we caught word of a show in Vancouver called “Requiem for a Photobooth: 3 punk bands, 4 shots, 1 minute of silence,” by the artist Femke van Delft. More information on the project can be found on her site, and on this local blog. The show seems to have ended this past week, and we welcome any more information and first-hand reports on what it was like.

snaps.jpgIn late 2007, we received an email from director Graham Rathlin, who was working on a short film set in a photobooth and needed a real booth to shoot it in. We helped get him in touch with the folks who manage Berlin’s fine booths, and a few months later, he sent us a link to his finished short, titled Little Snaps of Horror. You can view the film on icewhole.com.

And finally, from the Coincidence Department, we’ve got two “About Us” pages from Chicago-based organizations that use photobooth photos. Now, we know that Chicago is America’s photobooth capital, but even this is a little strange.

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First, from skinnyCorp, the folks behind the phenomenon that is Threadless, a page featuring a number of shots from the same booth, which you can see on their site and archived here.

And secondly, the Neo-Futurists’ Ensemble and Alumni page (archived in our Web section), featuring dozens of black and white photobooth photos of past and current members of this Chicago theater collective.

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July 14, 2008

News from Reuters and The Press Association this week of Photo-Me’s continued woes — the company’s stock, which lost 84% of its value in the last year, fell 6 percent more this week — but they are hoping for “one-digit solid profitable growth” next year, in the words of CEO Thierry Barel.

As for the news of more losses, an analyst offered this choice quote:

The results were just what we were looking for… The photo-booth business just throws off money.”

Hmm. That doesn’t sound good. The Reuters article continues, “[Barel] had considered selling the core vending business, which is suffering as passport agencies move to centralised biometric data collection, but the board had received no acceptable offers.” The failed sale led to losses totalling “£14.8 million of one-off items.” We previously covered Photo-Me’s attempts to sell off its photobooth division in 2006 and 2007.

Barel continued, “There is a risk of further deterioration in photo booths… We decided to accelerate diversification to depend less and less on photo booths.” So, if the booth business “throws off money,” passport agencies are moving away from accepting photobooth photos for identification, and no other companies are interested in buying Photo-Me’s photobooth division, what happens next? What does the future hold for the the thousands of photobooths around the world owned by Photo-Me?

One person who might have an answer is Hugo Swire, the news chairman of Photo-Me, who is profiled in a recent piece in the Telegraph that is definitely worth a read.

Brian | 8:05 am | In the News