April, 2009

April 22, 2009


While it’s 99% tedious photos of ‘tweens mugging for the camera in an Apple Store, our RSS feed for Flickr photos tagged with the word ‘photobooth’ still manages to turn up some interesting pictures every once in awhile. Last week, I spotted what looked like a photobooth photo blown up to cover the side of a building, and in contacting the artist, I was happy to find out more about the project, and others like it that he’s been working on over the years.


Pierre Fraenkel’s work often involves the public presentation of found photos, blown up to varying degrees of massiveness. As he describes his latest project, “Unknown little boy,”

I made a collage of an unknown little boy’s ID photograph. In my collages, I very often like showing people I meet, but above all, I like showing unknown people — either old photographs from a flea market or an antique shop, or an ID photograph found on the ground.

I’m fond of the slightly strained and forced smile of the kid. And then, there’s this hand — whose hand is it? His mother’s? From his clothes and his haircut as well as the quality of the photo, I would say the photograph was taken at the end of the 70s.

The project was done for the 2009 KKO Festival in Altkirch, France, and since we first saw the photo, the boy has now been joined by an unknown girl, as well. We’ve got some more info in our Projects section, and much more can be found on Pierre’s website.


UPDATE: For the Francophones among our readers, a local TV news interview story about the project.

April 21, 2009

We received an email with photos from a couple named Peter and Ina in the Netherlands a few weeks ago, and it’s taken me this long just to recover from the shock of seeing their gorgeous photobooth in all its original glory. This gem may be the best-looking booth I’ve ever seen.


Thanks to Peter and Ina for sharing the booth, just one item in their amazing collection of games, jukeboxes, and other machines. Here’s Ina’s account of how they came across it:

About twelve years ago, when I saw this thing for the first time, it was love at first sight for me. The photobooth was in a jukebox store in Amstelveen in the Netherlands, and I had never seen something like it before. Unfortunately, my husband didn’t see in it what I saw, so in spite of all the hints I gave him over the years, the booth stayed where it was: in the jukebox store.

The asking price was rather high and this booth also takes a lot of space, so there weren’t many people seriously interested and the guys who owned the photobooth didn’t sell it. 

Because the owners wanted to quit their business, they put a lot of stuff on sale, and that’s why, after all those years, I was delighted to get it as a Christmas present last Christmas. And above all…for a more than reasonable price.

My husband made me really glad and believe it or not, by now he almost likes it more than I do. The condition of the booth is rather great so we don’t have to restore it and as far as we can see, the mechanisms also work well. Now we are trying to find out what chemicals we need to actually make it work again and I think, with the hope of a couple of handy friends, this will work out.


We’ll post any news we get on the progress of the booth as it comes in.

April 17, 2009

In the run-up to the Photobooth Convention, we had to put a few stories and bits of news on the back burner while we were in Chicago. Now that the dust has settled, it’s time to get those up on the site, and we’re starting with a show that opened more than 1500 miles away from Chicago on the same night as the opening of the Convention: Picture Yourself Here: The Photobooth Show at the Flagstaff Photography Center in Flagstaff, Arizona.


The show, which runs through June 13, is a look at the photostrip collection amassed over the course of the past two years by FPC’s managing director, Jason Hasenbank. Described as “part self-portrait show, part anonymous found object, part candid look at the residents and visitors to downtown Flagstaff,” the show features a collection of “over 2,000 individual images of portraits, body parts, inanimate objects and expressions from our emotional spectrum.” Visitors are encouraged to add their own photos to the collection, and the center offers a scanning and enlarging service to allow people to share the photostrips with family and friends

We’re awaiting a photo of the booth and a sample photostrip to add the Flagstaff Photography Center’s booth to our newly-revamped Photobooth Directory. Thanks to Jason at the FPC for letting us know about the event.

UPDATE: The Flagstaff Photography Center’s booth is now listed in our directory.

April 15, 2009

2009 International Photobooth Convention

So, it’s been a week or so since it ended, and the 2009 International Photobooth Convention is retreating in our collective rear view mirror. Those attendees who made the trek from the U.K., from New York and San Francisco, from Vermont and Massachusetts, from Minnesota and Ohio, and from around the greater Chicago area, have all returned home. The organizers have left Logan Square for far flung Los Angeles, St Louis, and Oak Park, and it’s time to reflect on what went on during the night and long day of the event.

From my perspective, the event was a huge success. Thanks to the hard work of a lot of people, not the least of whom were Anthony, providing his photobooths and preparing the event on the ground in Chicago; Tim, bringing in folks from all over the country and keeping things under control with his unflappable cool; and our hosts at Center Portion Sheila and Greg, we had a smooth and relatively chaos-free event. Without any major issues to worry about, we were able to appreciate the company of the photobooth enthusiasts, technicians, artists, kids, and passersby who attended, all enjoying the shared experience and the luxury of unlimited photobooth pictures.

Some of the highlights for me were first of all meeting Anthony, with whom we’d corresponded and spoken over the previous few months, since the idea of a convention in Chicago was first floated last August. Tim and I had been involved in our first International Photobooth Convention in 2005, just a few months after we’d begun this site, so this time around, I felt a lot more comfortable in the world of the photobooth, and had made a lot more connections, discoveries, and acquaintances that proved helpful in the meantime .

One such connection was with Martin of, who had gotten in touch through the website a few weeks before the convention and offered a collaborative project for convention-goers in Chicago to participate in. In the Schnellfoto booth in Moscow, various people offered questions to Chicagoans, written in Russian on cards and held up to the camera in the photobooth. Martin FedEx’ed the strips, with translations, to me, and I brought them to Chicago, where we distributed them to people to answer with a response photostrip. The project attracted a lot of enthusiasm, and we got some terrific, witty, and creative answers. I’m in the middle of assembling a small booklet of the questions and answers side by side, which we’ll make available on the site when I’m finished.

2009 International Photobooth Convention

Steve “Mixup” Howard, the founding father of the International Photobooth Convention, made the trek from England, and, along with Nakki Goranin and Dina Stander, made up the core group of returnees from our previous convention in 2005. It was great to see them again, and to have their art and collections hanging on the walls of the gallery, just like last time. We made some new friends this time, putting faces with names we’d emailed with over the years, including Danny Minnick from San Francisco; Connie Begg, proud owner of a new (old) photobooth, also from the Bay Area; and Carole and Siobhan of Photomovette in London, who are busy preparing to reintroduce the photochemical booth to London after a few years of painful absence.

2009 International Photobooth Convention

The panel discussion on day two was also a highlight, as Tim led a talk among the hosts and distinguished guests, including Anthony, Mixup, Nakki, and Nick Osborn of and co-author of the fantastic new book Who We Were: A Snapshot History of America.

Despite the long series of late nights spent preparing, enjoying, and then cleaning up after the convention, we were even able to get in a little photobooth-hunting, as Tim, Danny, and I hit three photobooths to add to our directory: Quenchers, Weegee’s Lounge, and Bar Deville. By the end of it all, there was fleeting talk of doing it all again in a year (or two or three), so we’ll see what happens. Thanks to everyone who came for making it a terrific event.

Check out the official wrap-up page for the convention, and stay tuned for the online gallery of artwork and other multimedia from the event.

April 15, 2009


I am tempted to lobby for a name change of the convention to “Photobooth Family Reunion” as I feel it captures the spirit of event much more accurately than our tongue-in-cheek use of the term “convention.” I know some disparage the family reunion with an eye-roll and the chuckle reserved for a scene from a National Lampoon Family Vacation, but my experiences with said reunions are solid gold. This year’s convention was no exception, and it had all the requisite parts: the relatives you look forward to seeing from reunions past (Nakki, Dina), the patriarch of the family keeping an eye on all the festivities (Mixup), the famous great uncle whom you’ve heard stories about for years but never met (Todd Erickson), the relatives you meet and love, but never knew you had (Carole, Siobhan, Connie), the cool relative from California that you wish lived closer (Danny), all the family members you knew existed, but didn’t know their names until now (all the artists, attendees, and Center Portion gang), and of course, the perpetual family cheerleaders, the reunion organizers who are never quite sure anyone else likes reunions as much as they do (Anthony, Brian, and me!). And need I mention, what family reunion is complete without a boatload of photographs (both archival and emerging)? Then you have the few uncles who bust out family videos for everyone to watch (the shorts program, the documentary on the booth innards) and the genealogy-obsessed aunt who organizes a sit-down Q&A with the oldest members of the family in order to hear stories soon to be lost in time (the panel discussion). Throw in a few art projects for the kids (the altered photo workshop and Russian “space bridge” project) and some general revelry, and you’ve got all the necessary ingredients. The only thing missing, in my estimation, was jello salad.


Anthony proved a more-than-capable host, navigating the grassroots art scene in Chicago to provide us with commemorative convention buttons (via Busy Beaver Button Company) and a fantastic silkscreened convention poster (from artist Shawn Stucky) as well as generously commandeering a portion of his photobooth fleet and faithful support staff (thanks Andrea, Eric, Carol, and Brad) for use at the convention. Be sure to check out Anthony’s vast array of artistic and economic involvements.

Brian already mentioned it, but it bears repeating: Sheila, Greg, and family were awesome. Thanks to them for their attentive but laid-back hospitality. If you live in and around Chicago, keep an eye on the schedule of events at the Center Portion. You won’t be disappointed.

Brian (in true form) failed to mention his amazing talk on the history of photobooths in cinema. It was an updated and expanded version of the (stellar) talk he gave in St. Louis during the 2005 Convention. When I introduced Brian, I said his talk was my favorite part of the last convention — and I wasn’t kidding. His talk is something that would be appreciated by a much larger audience — perhaps we can convince him to post some version of it online someday.

Special thanks to the folks who agreed (some of them on very short notice) to sit as part of the panel discussion I moderated: Nakki, Nick, Mixup, Brian, and Anthony. If we are able to salvage any footage from the two video cameras that ran out of batteries, we’ll post a portion of the fireside chat. I really enjoyed the different perspectives the panelists brought and only wished it could have lasted longer. We only scratched the surface.

tshirt.JPGTravel for me is always much more about the people and much less about the place — this trip to Chicago was filled with wonderful and kind people, some old and some new. I did manage to see some of my Chicago peeps (Kenner, Maureen, Nils, Joanie — thanks for coming out!) and was generously housed by cousin Doug and fed by cousin Hayes (my own mini family reunion).

There was some chatter about the next convention and there seems to be growing support for having them more regularly. When asked about the dates of the next convention, Brian and I always answer with a smile, “When are you willing to host it?” We look forward to the next gathering, whenever that might be.

April 09, 2009

We’ve put up another batch of photos, from the second day of the Convention, on Flickr. They’ve been added to the 2009 IPC set.

Anthony leads his sold-out “Altered Photography” workshop:

2009 International Photobooth Convention

Some of the art and collections on the walls of the gallery:

2009 International Photobooth Convention

Danny and Nick talk photography:

2009 International Photobooth Convention

One of our younger convention-goers gets ready to take photos in the booth:

2009 International Photobooth Convention

Check out all of the photos in our set, as well as the photos (and photostrips) of others in the 2009 IPC group pool on Flickr (thanks to Arielle for setting it up).

April 06, 2009

2009 International Photobooth Convention

After an amazing and exhausting International Photobooth Convention this weekend, the various organizers are still unloading trucks, cars, and suitcases, so it will take bit before we can get a full run-down on the events and highlights, but for now, we’ll put up a few photos and videos to give those who weren’t able to make it an idea of what it was like.

2009 International Photobooth Convention

2009 International Photobooth Convention

Check out the full set of photos on Flickr.

We took some video over the weekend, some of which we’ve already posted below. More is on the way, so check out a few videos on Vimeo.

And finally, we designed some t‑shirts and debuted them at the Convention. Currently there are two in the entire world, one for each half of, but we’d love to see some more around. Order a shirt, take a photostrip of yourself wearing it, and send it our way! Check out our t‑shirts at Spreadshirt.

April 03, 2009

Photobooth Convention from Photobooth on Vimeo.

Brian | 9:49 pm | Art, Community
April 03, 2009

The photobooth gang are at Center Portion setting up booths and hanging art. The convention opens tonight at 7:00, and we’ll be here all day getting ready.

Unloading the photobooth from Photobooth on Vimeo.

We’ll see you here!

Brian | 9:02 am | Art, Community