photobooth nerdery

house of hipsters

ok, so you are really going to see my photobooth nerdery come out in this post…i apologize in advance.

this past weekend i got to to totally geek out at the international photobooth convention hosted by photobooth.net and  a&a studios in chicago, il. it was open to the public to celebrate the wonderment that is the photobooth, and man o man was it cool! i met so many booth nerds like myself! however, i think the proper term is “like-minded booth lovers” but i digress.

hidden face

artists, collectors, photobooth enthusiasts, and other owners flew into chicago to attend this great event…i was so lucky i was local and it only took me 36 minutes to drive into the city…and i found free parking…which is practically unheard of! the entire day was such a great experience…swapping tips and tricks, attending workshops, and just soaking in so much information from experts on the machines.

photobooth art

so first and foremost, where was it held? at a&a studios…owned by anthony vizarri (and his adorable wife andrea), together they have dedicated their lives basically to preserving the vintage beauty of photobooths and analog photography. they are also the guys that built my model 20 booth. anthony had 8 working booths…color, black and white, sepia and digital available to use all day long for free plus admission. each booth is vintage and has been restored by anthony and his crew. his attention to detail is incredible and what a unique experience to see these booths up close and together in one room! seriously, i’ve visited the studio a few times, but nothing like this…truly a once in a lifetime experience that i’m so thankful i was a part of.

classic model 11

rob's digital booth

the boy was ever so sweet to let me attend by myself, sans babies…i was able to spend the day really focused on learning. i sat in on a couple saturday workshops — photobooth art techniques taught by meags fitzgerald and photobooth anatomy & diagnosing problems taught by todd erickson.

Photobooth Convention 2014 - Chicago

the first of the two workshops, photobooth art techniques, was awesome and so creatively inspiring…i was unfamiliar with meags’ work until saturday. she is an artist out of canada (with an adorable top knot btw) and just published a book, “photobooth: a biography” that i purchased before leaving and have not put down since…chocked full of valuable information…her workshop also introduced me to the work of jan wenzel and his book fotofix (for which i’m on a mission to purchase under $200)

meags gave the class ideas and insight on the many ways to experiment with booth photography…how to magnify your image without using a computer and keeping it in focus, creating gradients and tints with gels, filters, photo collage, rearrangement, using masks and backgrounds, and even ideas for creating short stop motion animation.

photobooth love

my big question was how on earth do you create a full body image in four frames…she taught me that by griding out the cabinet with string just outside of the camera’s view and lots of patience and trial and error, it can totally be done. however, to add your feet you really must be ok with a bit of cut and paste. upon my return home and after the babes went to bed that night, i spent some time trying to perfect it…after an hour, came close and called it a night…i think i need a box instead of my stool…and possibly a bit of contortionism…and a tight shirt helps. i was wearing a denim shirt over my tank and when i bent down, the shirt shifted making an uneven transition between the 2nd and 3rd frame

vintage photomatic photobooth

i also met tim garrett who cofounded photobooth.net. the studio had a small gallery showcasing some choice pieces created by tim and other artists. he was kind enough to teach me the magic of how he created the image below, and also invited me to view an amazing mosaic of his wife that still is rocking my brains…it was such an honor to be in the presence of these artists. they were so kind and each one really took the time to listen and answer questions. what they create is pure magic that makes my heart sing.

artist tim garrett

during photobooth anatomy & diagnosing problems, todd erickson taught me so much i couldn’t write fast enough! todd owns photo booth memories out of st paul, mn…and he is a genius! one thing he really emphasized was his booth photos with take your breath away, and if you maintain your machine and follow his tips, you can have the same results. and his wife leslie is a super sweet 2nd grade teacher. they were such wonderful and nice people to meet.

some of his tips were to swap tanks 6A and 6B to make your clearing chemistry last longer…sooooo smart! add more bleach to the tank when you start to have dark streaks instead of changing out the entire tank. check your chemistry first in troubleshooting…developer should be all black, bleach should be orange, clearing should be white and toner should show your image. change the oil in your transmission every year…must ask anthony and rob when they think that needs to be done in my booth that is only used occasionally. use synthetic oil in the tranny…it needs a fresh quart. check the little things first before you diagnose a bigger problem. to remove the metal shavings out of the transmission, place a magnet in the drain hole. to get more contrast, use a booster in the second tank of the developer…sorry folks, i’m typing all this in here because i never want to forget the wealth of knowledge this man gave me.

hipster familyhipster family

hipster vintage camerahipster photography and vintage camera

before i left, anthony gave me a couple a&a t-shirts and sold me a couple batches of chemistry. i left with a new found love for my booth and a desire to rekindle my passion for analog selfies. i can’t wait to try out a few of meats techniques and will be making a trip to paper source soon for a few new backdrops. i can’t wait to share more with you soon!

fabulous photo booth fun

photoBooth1photoBooth2

i don’t know about you, but when i see a vintage dip and dunk chemical photo booth i get giddy with excitement. i’ve always adored them, but growing up in a rural community, they were not plentiful. i vividly remember finding one on a class trip to six flags great america and blowing every penny i had. dragging classmate after classmate into that little booth, sitting on the wobbly stool, pulling the red curtain closed and making silly faces or sticking out our tongues…then waiting 5 mins for that whirring noise and receiving a strip of 4 black and white photos. memories and friendships being held in my hand.

for me, analog instant photography has been a great outlet for creative experimentation. all my life, i’ve been obsessed with cameras, film and photography, but i’m one of those people that needs instant gratification. my polaroid cameras helped fulfill that instant need but after renting a vintage chemical booth for my wedding, i knew i had to have one of my own. don’t get me wrong, i’m not above jumping in a digital smilebooth and hamming it up with the best of them, but there is something special and unique about a vintage film photo booth.

photobooth

 

after completing an extensive google search, i quickly found that vintage chemical photo booths were kinda hard to come by…especially booths in working condition. the search was quickly narrowed down to one company, mainly because they own the market…google pointed me to a&a studios located in chicago. i guess they were surprised when i said i wanted to buy one just for me…apparently no one does that. they also warned me that these machines were a bit tricky and needed some tender loving care (insert they are really, really fussy) to keep them in working order, but we all agreed, nothing compared to the strip of 4 images on film, so i drove to their studio on ogden ave. and found my machine in their basement storage room…an old model 20 that looked so decrepit and janky, but beautiful at the same time. and so began the build.

i didn’t realize that these machines were so heavy! they can weight over 800 lbs. since it was going to live in the basement, our main objective was devising a plan on how to get it in the house and not have the stairs collapse. anthony, a former architect and now a&a’s owner, decided it should be 4 separate pieces…the floor, the ceiling, the sitting area, and the machine itself.

photoboothBuild1photoboothBuild2

the night before delivery day was unbearable. i was excited, i was nervous…i couldn’t believe this booth was going to be mine all mine. it took a few hours and three guys to haul it into the house, get it down the stairs, leveled out and set up. anthony and another awesome guy who works for him — rob — ran me though the chemicals, camera, film, heater and other gizmos…i felt a little overwhelmed, but jumped in head first. ever since we have been making family memories day after day after day. i’ve been able to photograph the dude and little maus monthly and i think it is going to make for an amazing family photo album.

boothBuild2a

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