Your own film role

The Oregonian 7/17/2007
by Steve Woodward


Self-portraiture in a photo booth gives the faithful, including a Portland woman, their weekly fix of spontaneous, silly moments that catch the subject in all sorts of poses

Because Andrea Jenkins loves photo booths and because she loves Fridays...

She launched Photobooth Fridays on Jan. 20, 2006, by posting a photo of her husband, Ward, on her blog, Hula Seventy...

"Am thinking that this weekly feature may be just the perfect outlet for my borderline kooky fixation," she wrote.

"There's just something," she wrote to the growing numbers of readers who stumbled upon her blog, "about slipping into that private little booth with the adjustable stool and curtained background ...

"At this moment, you have the freedom to be whoever you'd like to be -- you are both photographer and subject...

"There you are -- goofy, fresh-faced, brave, ridiculous, tender, outrageous, sexy, odd, somber, mysterious, self-conscious, vulnerable...

"This is what I love most about photo booths: they capture people in a way no other camera can."

For 16 years, Jenkins taught dance to inner-city kids in Atlanta.

Then Ward, an award-winning animator and animation blogger, joined Portland-based Laika Entertainment as a director.

"Truly, the most difficult thing about this whole move out to Portland has been the idea of leaving family behind," Andrea wrote.

"We were," Jenkins wrote, "a gaggle of a family who came roaring into the lobby of the impossibly hip Ace Hotel with nary a warning...

"We broke the surface of quiet there in about three seconds flat and I am still turning red over it...

"On Mother's Day, that's what I wanted to do: I wanted to have my picture taken with my two children in a tiny little booth and I wanted a cupcake...

"And, well, that is exactly what we did."

Andrea, 36, was 2 when she posed with her parents for her first photo-booth picture.

"It's one part nostalgia, one part aesthetics, two parts obsession," she now says of her current passion.

She carries props for impromptu photos: glasses, hat, fabric flower.

"With her, every single birthday was a spectacular event. Trips to the library were a weekly treat, and she never limited the amount of books I checked out (and pretended not to notice when I stayed up late nights with those same books, flashlight in hand)."

"You always took the leftover bike...the saddest, most pathetic-looking bike. You didn't seem to care how dorky you looked riding it, you didn't care that your knees scraped the handlebars. Your actions taught me more about humility than you'll ever know."

"Amelie," according to, is "perhaps the only feature film in which a photo booth acts as a catalyst to the central action of the story."

Photo booths make cameo appearances in movies such as "Superman III," "The Karate Kid," "The Terminator" and "The Princess Diaries."

TV loves a good photo-booth scene. Witness "My Name Is Earl," "Ugly Betty," "The Simpsons," Veronica Mars" and even "Oprah."

"Portland is the perfect city for them," says Will Simmonds, owner of Photobooth Services, based in Redmond, Wash. "It's the right mix of retro and funkiness."

Simmonds says he first knew photo booths were magical when he saw kids at a graduation banquet, all of them clutching digital cameras, crowding into a booth.

Rentals are a new phenomenon. One bride wouldn't give up until Simmonds rented a booth for her wedding. "We thought she was crazy," he said.

After three hours of constant use, Simmonds had to shut down the booth. It had overheated.

Photobooth Friday is now a small group, about 100 people across the country, but they share their ups and downs like family.

"This is a week of grown-up-itis," jek-a-go-go wrote. Gut troubles, suspicious moles, a brain scan. "Boothing it keeps us young and happy..."

PoetMama posted the top half of a strip taken at a Los Angeles museum. "Nova was very hyper," she wrote, "and I ended up bribing her with M&M's to take the photo with me."

Jenkins once met two Photobooth Friday regulars during a trip to Brooklyn. The three women, of course, went straight to a photo booth on the East Side.

2007 The Oregonian

Contributed by Brian