I’m still in the process of cleaning up the props and supplies that litter my office, and I pack up and ship another piece of art to a contributing artist each day, but the 2012 International Photobooth Convention has come and gone, and it’s time to put down in words and pictures what happened.
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After months of planning, the convention began for us with a get-together on Thursday night at my house for some people who had come in from out of town. It also provided an excuse for me to get Anthony over to repair my booth, so we could all take photos in it before the evening was over. It was great to see old friends again, and get to know new ones.
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Earlier in the afternoon, we had a visit from Roman, down from San Francisco with his beautiful Model 11, which Anthony, Tim, and I checked out enviously as it sat in my driveway.
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Though it wasn’t ready to produce photos yet, Roman was kind enough to bring his booth to the Electric Lodge so convention-goers could admire it during our Friday opening.
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On Friday morning, Tim and I loaded all of the materials I’d collected at my house into the car and headed over to the Electric Lodge to get things ready. As we starting setting up and hanging art, Jim and Raul from Foto-Mat and Mike from Classic Photo Booth both arrived with their photobooths and brought them into the Lodge.
We couldn’t have done this event without them, and it was not only wonderful to have both a black and white and a color machine on hand, but it was a real pleasure meeting and talking to the guys. Watching their different techniques for moving, unloading, and setting up the booths was a special bonus for those of us who have done it once or twice (or a hundred times) ourselves.
The 25th Anniversary of the seminal PHOTOMATON photobooth art show was a big part of the convention, and we spent most of Friday afternoon hanging the art on the walls of the lobby, the stairs, and the upstairs area of the Electric Lodge. The folks at the lodge were extremely helpful, especially Lavinia, Lexie, and Jenny, and we had a secret weapon in our midst, a woman who confessed to having majored in hanging art, Meags Fitzgerald. I’m not sure what we’d have done without her; we didn’t know we needed her when we began the project, but it became clear how helpful she was once we got down to work. Meags and her gung-ho friend Kory along with Anthony, Tim, and I got all of the art up before the 7:00 opening, while another group of people entirely were taking care of the studio space.
Aimee and Leslie took care of making the merch display a dizzying array of colorful collectables, while Leslie’s husband Keith, a.k.a. DJ National Geographic set up his turntables and speakers to give the evening a soundtrack. They also took care of our wine and soda setup, while our kids played together and occasionally misplaced a toy…
We opened at seven, and had a steady stream of people throughout the night. The same thing that always happens at these events happened, in which I man the front desk or get wrapped up in some other thing going on and don’t really get to engage in the actual activities of the event, but I think people were having a good time. It’s tough to underestimate what a great addition DJ Nat Geo was for this convention. We can now never go back: every event from now on needs a live DJ. He made the whole thing feel real, and I know everyone was appreciating his thoughtful selections. Thanks, Keith.
It was a fun night: we got to meet a lot of people, we gave away some raffle prizes, and people took a lot of photos before calling it a night around 10:30.
On Saturday, we took care of a few last-minute things that needed fixing before we opened again at 3:00 pm. I set up the looping show of photobooth clips going in the theater upstairs, and we began to hype our collaborative art project. Conceived hours before the show opened and begun timidly that night, the project exploded on day 2 as dozens of convention-goers took the challenge of telling the story of a movie in four frames. Costumes, expressions, props, and text bubbles were all put to very creative use, and we collected the results at the end of the day. We’ll be publishing a pamphlet of the resulting work, hopefully sooner rather than later. Watch this space…
Anthony offered another one of his fascinating workshops, this time taking photobooth photos and creating cyanotypes, exposed in the Southern California sun. Everyone enjoyed the project and their results.
It was great to see friends and families stream in on Saturday, and we had a steady crowd of twenty or so people, all day long. I gave a talk on Photobooths in Cinema upstairs that was well-attended, and Tim and I got to relax a little and talk to the folks who had come for the afternoon.
It really was an amazing gathering of photobooth enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, technicians, and artists. The brain trust of photobooth experience in that room on Saturday was formidable. It was really great to meet folks we’ve long corresponded with, like Sam in Pasadena, Johnny in Sacramento, and Joe in L.A. It was also a nice surprise to see Robin from Foote Photos again, whom I’d last met at the Orange County Fair three or four years ago. I wish we’d been able to have everyone sit down and tell their stories. It would have been a fascinating conversation.
Before we knew it, it was 10:00, there was a dog in the photobooth, and it was time to close up shop and begin the long process of taking down the art we’d hung up just over 24 hours before. Note to self: next time, use a combination of less art up for a longer period of time, you’ll appreciate it. We got the booths broken down and cleaned up and out of the way, and said goodnight to the Electric Lodge, which turned out to be a perfect place to hold our little event.
I can’t thank Aimee, Tim, Anthony, Andrea, Meags, Kory, Mike, Raul, Jim, Keith, and Leslie enough for making the event a success. Also, a special thanks to our guest, PHOTOMATON artist George Berticevich, down from San Francisco to take part in the celebrations, and to all of the artists who contributed their work to this show. Thank you to everyone who attended, took part, took photos, and contributed to our project. We hope you enjoyed it, and we’ll see you next time.
If you’d like to purchase one of our limited edition posters or PHOTOMATON show catalogs, I’d be happy to help.