Kate Burt, writing for The Independent on Sunday, has written a nice piece on the current state of photobooths in the UK, and around the world, titled “Camera obscurer: Meet the enthusiasts that are determined to keep photo booths alive.” She was kind enough to contact us for the piece, and includes some of our thoughts on photochemical booths. Also featured are digital entrepreneurs The Mighty Booth and The Expressive Booth, as well as our fellow photochemical enthusiasts Carole and Siobhan of Photomovette, Alex of Photoautomat, and Steve “Mixup” Howard.
Burt provides a brief history of the booth as well as a look at the current state of the photochemical machine, attempting to survive in a digital world:
However, enthusiasts argue, digital booths just don’t have the same appeal. Tim Garrett, who, with his friend Brian Meacham, co-founded the appreciation site Photobooth.net in the US, believes that “Digital ‘enhancing’ of the experience with cheesy voiceovers and graphics has taken away from the beautiful simplicity of the vintage booths.” The charm of the old-school booths, he continues, is “a special sauce of ingredients: the tiny precious images, beautifully lit and exposed; the instant gratification; the cramped space of the seating area that inspires intimate photos; the anticipation as you wait for the strip to pop out, unsure exactly how they will look; the pungent smell of the chemicals and the low whirr of the machine…”
Thanks to Kate for a great piece, which you can also find archived on our site.
For our readers in Italy and around Europe, we’d like to make note of an upcoming exhibition of photobooth photos in Viterbo, Italy (about 90km north of Rome) at the Studio Fontaine. The exhibition is called “4x20 Lasciare Asciugare” (which translates to “Let it dry”).
Gianmaria Ponzi, one of the co-founders of the gallery, got in touch to let me know about the show. His description follows:
Sabina Scapin and I have founded a gallery of contemporary art in viterbo. Sabina is a photographer and I am, above all, a collector of vintage photos, the blurry and unusual, and a researcher of photos. We like the photographic portrait and have thought that the true portraits of the common people are more interesting and authentic. We have thought about picking up photos from photobooths, but we have found problems in Italy, because they cannot be found in the markets. We have made announcements in newspapers but without any answer.
We’ve bought them on eBay, and gone to Brussels and Berlin where there are photo markets. We succeeded in borrowing some photos on loan from our friends who had preserved them.
The show that opens October 30, 2010 will display around 100 photobooth photos taken over the last 50 to 90 years, and are almost all in black and white.
Please let us know if you attend the show, and send photos so we can let everyone know what it was like. Thanks to Gianmaria for getting in touch with us.
Our friends at Photomovette are taking part in a great event this Friday: a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the introduction of the motion picture to the people of South East London. The New Cross Cinematograph Theatre opened October 22, 1910, in the same location where Photomovette have their black and white booth, an event and exhibition space called Utrophia.
We are very excited to be taking part in a very special event at Utrophia, home of our photobooth. The New Cross Cinematograph Theatre opened on the spot of Utrophia in 1910, providing the people of South East London their first look at moving image. It was officially opened by the Mayor of Greenwich and Deptford on 22 October 1910, and now, exactly a hundred years later, Utrophia are re-enacting the occasion with the creation of a portal that loops back to that time and space, charting the ensuing journey of how we captured and represented the light of life. Dress up, eat cake, marvel at light projections and document the process in true old-fashioned style in one of the only black and white booths in London!
For more on the event, see Photomovette and Utrophia.
Brian and I were honored to participate as judges in the Best Narrative category for the Art of Waiting photobooth contest. There were quite a few entries we liked, but one stood out as the clear winner: Kate Tyler’s piece entitled “Alot can happen in 3 minutes…,” a portion of which is pictured at right. Kate’s playful exploration of immigration and assimilation tells an interesting story and makes great use of photostrips. Kate’s piece also took top honors in the “Most Out of the Box” category. Congratulations, Kate!
The other entries and winners can be viewed on the Art of Waiting website.