THE PHOTOBOOTH BLOG

February, 2012

February 20, 2012

Tonight is my last in Switzerland, after a wonderful almost-week filled with good times hanging out with old friends, quality time spent thinking about, talking about, and using photobooths, plus a few mountain railways and raclette thrown in for authenticity’s sake.

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On Saturday, I headed down to Montreux and up into the mountains and Rochers-de-Naye for some snow and sunshine before returning to the Musée one last time. I shot some more footage and took some strips with Danny, Carole, and Siobhan.

One for the road

We enjoyed a walk down to the lake and through Ouchy, and planned to meet up in Geneva later that night. Danny went on his way back to Istanbul (eventually), while the London and Chicago contingents and I met up at Curiositas for a tasty dinner. Anthony, Andrea, Carole, Siobhan, and I all said goodbye until May, which isn’t so far away.

On Sunday, I headed to Zürich, and immediately upon arrival, sought out Martin Balke, the father of the Swiss photobooth, with whom I spent the rest of the day. We talked, we took photos, we looked inside the machine, we talked some more… He and his family treated me to an authentic Swiss dinner, and I very much enjoyed spending time with them.

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It was a real pleasure getting to know Martin and hearing fifty years of stories from this brilliant and passionate man, who still maintains the only native Swiss photobooth still active in the country. Now that Anthony’s refurbished Model 14 has arrived at the Musée in Lausanne, Martin’s machine has some company, but his photoautomat is unique survivor, a different strain of photobooth altogether. Though I’d seen scans of the photos it produces, there’s nothing like holding them in your hand; they’re quite simply the best photobooth photos I’ve ever seen.

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This morning, after a few more funiculars and cog railways, I met up with Martin again for more good conversation, and then spent an enlightening hour and a half researching Prontophot, the Swiss photobooth company that started in the 1930s and was later taken over by Photo-Me, from material in the collection of the Swiss National Museum. Thanks to Nora, whom I met in Lausanne, for tipping me off to the stuff, and to Betty at the Museum for taking the time to show it to me. There were some fascinating finds in those files…

Tomorrow, it’s back to Los Angeles, and less than three months before the photobooth convention. We heard from many people from all over the world at the Musée who pledged to come to L.A. for the convention, so now we’d better make it great. We’ll keep you posted.

February 17, 2012

Many of us gathered at the Musée this morning to hang out again, take more photos, and say goodbye to those who were leaving, like Jan Wenzel, Marc Bellini, and Nakki Goranin. Marco Ferrari initiated a multi-strip project with many participants that we hope to see the results of soon, and everyone had a good time.

Last day at the museum

In the afternoon, a group of ten of us took a little field trip to the Swiss Camera Museum in nearby picturesque Vevey.

Camera Museum

We took in all of the amazing objects on display in the large collection, and had a good time talking about cameras, which was not surprising. The museum was very impressive, but we lamented the lack of a photobooth. Mutoscope machines, magic lantern projectors, a camera obscura… but no booth.

After the museum, we all headed for some sightseeing, and took the funicular up from Vevey to Mont Pélerin for a phenomenal sunset over the Alps and Lake Geneva. Pictures were taken.

Mont Pélerin

February 16, 2012

In the gallery

It was a great night for fans of the photobooth as the Musée de l’Elysée’s long-awaited exhibition opened to the public, with a packed house of hundreds of photobooth enthusiasts, photography buffs, historians, artists, and others filled the museum’s three floors and kept the photobooth in the cafe running non-stop.

Photobooth fun

I saw a lot of familiar faces in the crowd, some of whom we’ve known for years, others just a few days. It was great to finally meet Marco Ferrari, as well as Les Matons, Helene and Christian, all of whom have been invaluable sources of news and information for the site. It was also great to see Igor again, in a meeting as brief as our first one, last year in Paris.

Marco, Igor, Marc

Anthony and Carole

February 16, 2012

I arrived in Lausanne yesterday and made my way straight to the museum for the opening walk-through and “friends of the museum” reception. The show is terrific; I saw everything over the course of the night, but didn’t examine anything in detail, saving it for today or tomorrow when I’ll have more time. I also forced myself not to bring my camera, which was the right move, because it meant I actually got to talk to people instead of worrying about what I was and wasn’t taking pictures or video of. I met many of the artists whose work is in the show, and was happy to see our old friends Danny, Nakki, and Anthony and Andrea. It was also a pleasure to meet the wonderful staff of the museum who have put together a brilliant show, and who have been so helpful as I’ve worked on the text and video.

Rob and Anthony have whipped the photobooth into beautiful working order, and all of the guests at last night’s event had a blast taking photos.

The show is certainly a big event in Lausanne, with lots of press coverage and these great posters all over the city:

I’ll be doing interviews with artists today and the opening reception for the public is tonight. All photobooth all the time!

February 13, 2012

We are very pleased today to announce the 2012 International Photobooth Convention, which will be held at Electric Lodge in Venice, California, May 18 and 19, 2012. It’s been almost three years since our last event in Chicago, and with all of the exciting stuff going on in the world of photobooths, we’re ready for another convention. Just as in previous years, the event will be a low-key gathering featuring photobooth art, workshops, lectures, projects, and of course, free photochemical photobooths.

We’re still in the early planning stages of the event, but we wanted to make the announcement and let people know with as much lead time as possible. Check back on the Convention page, on our Facebook page for the event, and on our Twitter feed for updates as they become available. We very much hope some of our readers will be able to join us in California for the event, but if not, never fear, it will be well documented on our site as it happens.

Feel free to contact us with any questions about the convention, and stay tuned for more news as we get closer to the date.

February 13, 2012

The photobooth show has now gone live on the front page of the Musée de l’Elysée website, and an extensive press kit for the show is now available for download. Check it out to find out more about the show, the artists, and the museum. Additionally, good news for photobooth enthusiasts around Europe: the show will be traveling to Brussels and Vienna later on in the year.

February 11, 2012

We were thrilled to receive a copy of the catalog for the Musée de l’Elysée show yesterday, a few days before the show opens to the public. I have to say I was taken aback when I saw how substantial it was; I don’t think I was expecting something quite so massive, more than 300 pages in length. It is an absolutely gorgeous piece of work. The partially transparent slipcover has an image of a photobooth curtain on it, and, when removed, it reveals a bright orange hardbound cover with the same text as on the slipcover embossed directly into the fabric. It has to be seen to be appreciated, and is the sort of tactile detail that reinforces my unease about the transition to digital books.

At first glance, the catalog is an impressive balance of text and images, with many iconic pieces well represented, from Warhol’s silkscreens to the Amélie–inspiring scrapbook of Michele Folco, from Dick Jewell’s found photos and André Breton’s self-portrait, as well as recent work by Danny Minnick, Marc Bellini, and others. I haven’t gone through it with a fine-toothed comb, but I look forward to discovering some unknown examples of photobooth art as I read it over.

The entire catalog is in French, and it’s quite something to see one’s work written so convincingly in a language one doesn’t speak. I thank the skillful translator for transforming my brief essays on photobooths in film into a nice-looking chapter near the end of the book.

The curators and scholars involved in putting this exceptional work together deserve hearty congratulations, and have created a work that will add immensely to the available body of knowledge about photobooths in history, art, and culture. Bring on the show!

February 10, 2012

As I prepare to head to Lausanne in a few days, I’m clearing off some old to-dos from the list, and have added a variety of updates to our ever-growing catalog of all things photobooth.

First, in the world of books and magazines, a few new items:

Photomatons pornographiques, a slim, French collection of photos from 1992. We can only assume is what it sounds like it is; the book seems scarce and expensive and is maybe best left up to the imagination.

Photographer Liza Rose’s book Le livre extraordinaire de –M– features numerous photobooth photos, and even comes with a strip in its elaborate packaging. In addition to the book, Rose created a video teaser for the book that we have listed in our Music Videos section.

Artist Johanna Tagada illustrated a piece about bagels in an issue of Zut! magazine from last year with some photobooth photos.

And finally, a new publication, Regardez il va peut-être se passer quelque chose…, from Alain Baczynsky.

The book is a collection of photobooth photos taken by Baczynsky over a period of three years, 1979–1981, which capture his mood and mindset after a psychoanalysis session. The photos, which uncover Baczynsky replaying the sessions in his mind, were re-discovered by curator Clément Cheroux of the Pompidou Center and one of the curators behind the upcoming Musée de l’Elysée exhibition, where the photos will be displayed. Mr. Baczynsky will be signing copies of the book at the show, as well.

In the realm of film, we have two new additions:

Dirty Girl, a 2010 film starring Juno Temple, features a battered photostrip of Danielle’s long-lost father.

In Love Actually, we get an extremely brief glimpse of Liam Neeson and his late wife in a photobooth, as seen in a slide show at her funeral.

In television, Laura Linney’s The Big C featured a photostrip in a recent episode. The booth was at a celebratory funeral for an unborn baby; Rebecca (Cynthia Nixon) was disappointed it was being hogged by Cathy’s friends rather than actual mourners.

Ad agencies seem never to tire of the photobooth as a prop; we have two more ads that prove that the shtick is still fresh in someone’s mind, somewhere.

First, Photomaton, a French commercial for Freedent White gum.

And, more recently, commercial for a charm bracelet from Kay Jewelers that aired last week.

Finally, we’ve also listed a new project, The Sketch-O-Matic, in our Projects section. Made for use at an art space in Manchester, England, last year, the Sketch-O-Matic replaces the photobooth camera with an artist, who draws a quick portrait of the sitter in about the same amount of time as it would take for a photostrip to develop.

Safe travels to everyone heading to Switzerland this weekend and next week. Please come say hi; I’ll be the guy with the camera trying to capture the proceedings. Internet connection willing, I’ll be tweeting and posting some photos from the event over the next week, so stay tuned if you can’t make it in person.