2009 International Photobooth Convention

The Center Portion, Chicago, Ilinois April 3-4, 2009

About the Convention

The Center PortionThe 2009 International Photobooth Convention was held at the Center Portion in Chicago, Illinois. Photobooth artists and enthusiasts from around the globe took part in the two-day event. This year we had two vintage black and white photobooths and a replica Model 14 with digital guts that were free and open for use. We curated a show of photobooth-inspired and photobooth-related work that filled the walls of the Center Portion Gallery. Works from 15 artists were selected for the show; all submitted work can be viewed in our forthcoming online gallery.

This year, more than 200 participants joined in the fun, taking photobooth pictures, participating in discussions and workshops, enjoying videos and talks, and collaborating on this year's group project: a cross-cultural photobooth photo exchange. Think Maverick and Goose flying upside-down on top of a MiG, except friendlier, and in photobooths instead of jets. Just as Brian and Tim were stumped, trying to come up with an idea for a group project this year, Martin Krohs of Moscow's Schnellfoto came through with a brilliant idea: "FOTOMOST: Photobooth space bridge Moscow-Chicago." Martin invited people to compose messages or questions (in Russian, and ideally in 4 parts, written on cards) and photograph them in the photobooth. The resulting strips were translated, sent to the convention, and convention-goers were asked to respond to a strip with a photostrip answer of their own. These photobooth conversations turned out amazingly well, and they have been sent back to Moscow for an exhibition.

The convention opened on Friday night, with festivities including of a traditional gallery opening, a brief welcome from the convention organizers, and four hours of nonstop boothing.

Saturday was more relaxed as convention attendees came and went over the course of the day. The booths continued to see constant action, and those who were there used the freedom of unlimited photostrips to experiment and perfect their projects. Brian compiled a 30-minute reel of photobooth video shorts (commercials, news stories, music videos, and short films) that ran twice during the day. Anthony's altered photo workshop was sold out to an enthusiastic group of 16, and they managed to create some amazing work based on photostrips taken that day as well as found photos Anthony supplied. Soon after the art supplies were all cleaned up, the assembled group moved into the theater space to watch a 4-minute silent film showing the inner workings of the photobooth, followed by a panel discussion, moderated by Tim Garrett. The distinguished panel members were Nicholas Osborn (author, historian, and vernacular photography collector), Nakki Goranin (author, artist, photographer), Brian Meacham (Photobooth.net curator and film archivist), Steve "Mixup" Howard (artist, originator of the International Photobooth Convention), and Anthony Vizzari (artist, photographer, photobooth owner/operator). The panel covered topics ranging from the academic to the personal: the nostalgia for outmoded photographic techniques, the future of the photobooth, the difficulties and delights of digitization, and stories of the fascination each panelist has with the photobooth. We were very fortunate to have all these people in one place at one time.

Later that evening, Brian delivered an updated and expanded version of his talk on photobooths in cinema, reflecting the new discoveries made since the first iteration of the talk four years ago.

In addition to the artists and panelists mentioned above, other featured guests attended this year's convention. The ladies from Photomovette (Carole and Siobhan) came all the way from the UK to join in the festivities. They are well on their way to having the a much-needed new photochemical photobooth back up and running in London. Danny Minnick, whom we'd gotten to know through his photobooth art and his contributions of various photobooth locations around the country, made the trip from San Francisco and was a great help as we set up and took down the show. We also had the pleasure of having the grand master of the photobooth (in our opinion) Todd Erickson all the way in from Minneapolis on Friday night. You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone more knowledgeable or passionate about the booth, and the convention-goers soaked up his expertise that night.

Many thanks to Anthony Vizzari and 312Photobooth for hosting for this year's International Photobooth Convention, for doing the majority of the legwork as our man on the street in Chicago, and for the generous use of his photobooths.

We couldn't have had kinder or more generous partners in the proprietors of The Center Portion -- Greg and Sheila were great, and they've created a space that was perfect for our event.

Throughout the convention, there were various items for sale at the merchandise table. The linked items below are still available for purchase:

Read the Photobooth.net Blog wrap-up entries: Brian's and Tim's.
Read the Announcement Page.

Photos and Video

Brian's Flickr photostream with photos of the days' events.
IPC09 Flickr Pool

Photobooth.net's Vimeo album of short video clips from the convention.