We first met Meags Fitzgerald at the 2012 Photobooth Convention in Venice, after corresponding via email for four years about photobooth locations around the world (she’s one of our most prolific contributors). At the convention, she told us about one of her many projects, a graphic novel about photobooths, which sounded like an intriguing idea. Two years later, the book is finished. It’s a remarkable accomplishment, and has been deservedly picking up rave reviews since its release.
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We were lucky enough have an early look at the book and an inside peek at how it was made at the 2014 Photobooth Convention in Chicago earlier this year. We may be a little biased, as we make a cameo appearance in the book, but it’s a beautiful and thoughtful look at the history of photobooths as well as the story of Meags’ life-long relationship with these machines and the photos they produce. As writer and radio host Jonathan Goldstein writes,
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“Fitzgerald has created something that’s more than candid personal memoir, more than carefully researched cultural history — she’s created a work brimming with that rarest of things: love. That I should use such a word to explain a young woman’s feelings for photobooths certainly sounds improbable and maybe even a little crazy. And that’s precisely why this book is so wonderful.”
You can read reviews and listen to interviews with Meags about her book on her blog.
It might be a little late for Christmas, but for the photobooth lover in your life, we recommend you pick up a copy from Meags’ website.
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It was a busy and inspiring three days in Chicago, and we’re sad to see it go, but the 2014 International Photobooth Convention is now behind us. We connected with friends new and old, talked shop, and of course, took loads of photos. Thanks to Meags for her peerless organizational skills, and to Anthony and the crew at A & A Studios Chicago for hosting the event. Needless to say, we were reminded all weekend how lucky we were to be putting on a photobooth event in a workshop dedicated to photobooths.
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We had a great turnout for the opening night. The halls were lined with art and we had eight operational photobooths: five chemical (four B&W, one color), as well as three digital machines.
Here’s a ninety-second slice of the opening night: music flowing, booth flashes popping, people having a great time.
Meags Fitzgerald (Two Hands Two Crowns, Edmonton, AB) kicked off Saturday’s program with a workshop on Photobooth Art Techniques. Participants were treated to an overview of contemporary photobooth art, with discussion focusing on the various techniques employed. Participants were then given a bag of props and tools to make their own pieces.
Todd Erickson (Photobooth Memories, Minneapolis, MN) and his wife Leslie drove in from Minneapolis to give the “Photobooth Anatomy & Diagnosing Problems” workshop. Todd is the “Photobooth Yoda,” a walking encyclopedia when it comes to the vintage booths and their inner-workings. Not only does he know the booths like the back of his hand, but he has also spent many hours improving the weak links in booth design and construction (improved camera knife springs and magnets in the transmission drain plug, to name a few innovations). If ever there were a photobooth hyper-miler, Todd is it.
For the mid-afternoon panel, Jocelyn Dean (Portland, OR), Matt Dewalt (Photo-matica, San Francisco) and Rob Oldham (312 Photobooth, Chicago) shared tales from their experience starting and working in a photobooth business. The crowd was regaled with stories of booths mistaken as bathrooms, unsatisfiable customers, and lessons learned.
The final panel of the day focused on collectors. Ron Slattery (bighappyfunhouse.com, Chicago), Nick Osborne (Square America, Chicago) Nakki Goranin (author of American Photobooth, Burlington, VT), and Brian Meacham (Photobooth.net, New Haven, CT) shared their secrets for navigating the wild world of eBay, finding vintage pictures, and storing them safely.
Brian capped off the evening’s program with an updated version of his “Photobooths in Cinema” talk.
After shutting down the booths for the evening, a small crowd of 25 photobooth faithful (plus one guy we ran into on the street who decided to join us — thanks, Brad!) all hopped on a trolley later for a photobooth pub crawl, stopping at four Chicagoland photobooth hotspots: The Rainbo Club, The Empty Bottle, Quenchers (A holdover from the 2009 post-convention photobooth crawl), and The Charleston.
The day began with a workshop lead by Anthony Vizzari that explored the use of the photobooth camera outside the booth. The group got a tutorial on making their own control boxes as well as a camera wiring diagram. Open air photobooth photos (and a good bit of silliness) ensued.
The final organized event of the day was a book launch and signing for Meags Fitzgerald’s new graphic novel, “Photobooth: A Biography.” Meags gave a brief presentation describing her process creating the book and signed copies afterward.
Read some accounts of the convention from those who were there:
The fine folks of Photo-Matica wrote a nice piece about their experiences at the event. Kyla Herbes at House of Hipsters has a very nice writeup of her time at the convention, as well. Thanks, Kyla and Photo-Matica!
All in all, it was a fantastic weekend. Thanks again to Meags, Anthony, Andrea and the many A&A employees and volunteers who made this convention extra-special. For those of you who missed it, we’ll see you at the next convention in a few years. It usually takes us a few months to even think about the next one, but when we do, you can read about it here.
We’ll close with a great 360° panorama taken with the help (and phone, and app) of our farthest-flung convention attendee, Ksenia, who came all the way in from Wroclaw, Poland. Thanks for the photo, Ksenia!
–Tim & Brian