In the midst of planning for this year’s Photobooth Convention this week, we received a great email, of the sort that reminds us why we started this site four years ago. It’s about the booths, sure, but it’s also about the people who love them, who keep them alive, bring them back from the dead, and make them available for people to enjoy, all over the world.
The email came from Martin and Ira in Moscow, the two photobooth enthusiasts behind Schnellfoto.ru (also listed in our Projects section).
Along with photos of a photobooth and a scan of a photostrip, they sent the detailed story of how the photobooth came to be, and it’s quite a story.
One of us (Ira) is a photographer from Moscow, the other one (Martin) a german journalist, living in Moscow for more than ten years. Ira got enthusiastic for classical photobooths when we visited Geneva some years ago (the swiss booths were still running at this time). About a year ago we started looking for a machine ourselves. We phoned around all over europe, but it showed out that nearly all booth operators had already switched to digital, and, horrible as it is, thrown away and destroyed the older machines.
After a phase of disenchantment, we did some more desperate calls in Moscow, and it showed out that one — the last — M-22 had escaped the massacre by miracle, and was standing in the rain in the courtyard of a former soviet ball-bearing plant — some 2000 meters from our own house. We acquired it for a modest amount of money. Inside was a mayhem: flash generator and capacitors were stolen, as well as nearly all plugs, switches and other somehow vendible equipment, most of the cable harnesses were dumbly cut through. The mechanics (transmission, spider, paper transport, even camera) though were intact. Then followed three months of work in the evenings in a rusty soviet garage. We got a flash from an operator in europe, rebuilt all the rest ourselves, including wiring, money accepting system, outside decoration etc. etc.
The booth made its debut last summer for one day on the so-called “picnic Afisha” — the biggest summer festival in Moscow, with a huge success. Now, at the new location, we plan to stage different events with the machine — a portrait festival, a contest for the best strip, and Ira is going to use it in her work as a photographer.
You can find the location of the booth (at the Winzavod Contemporary Art Center in a former wine factory) on a Google map on the booth’s page in our Directory, but I’ll also include it here, in Russian, just because it looks wonderful:
ВИНЗАВОД — Центр современного искусства
4-й Сыромятнический переулок, дом 1, стр. 6
Their site is worth looking around (even if you can’t read Russian) for the photos of the booth in action and for the video of a Russian TV feature on the booth that includes a part on Anatol Josepho, the Russian father of the photobooth, as well as Martin and Ira in their booth.
We’re very pleased to have this new addition to our directory, and even more pleased to have made another far-flung connection with kindred spirits in the global photobooth community.