Lucky you—you’ve found our blog! This is where we record random musings about all things photo booth, photo related and in some cases, things that we just find to be darn cool. If you love photography, vintage finds, and rusty junk the way we do, there’s bound to be something here for you.
June 16, 2014
International Photobooth Convention
Has it really been 3 weeks since our last blog post? Don’t be mad boo, we have a good excuse. We’ve been basking in the awesomeness of the International Photobooth Convention. The weekend was jam packed with more photobooth greatness than you can imagine.
The convention was organized by Tim Garrett and Brian Meacham of Photobooth.net, and was held at A&A Studios in Chicago. And let’s just say that the hosts, Anthony & Andrea of A&A Studios, were some of the darn right coolest folks you’ll ever get to meet. But you’d know that just by looking at their studio, which was adorned with rare photobooth artifacts, amazing photos, and vintage finds. The photos, inset below, doesn’t really do the place justice, but it gives you an idea of what their amazing office looks like:
In addition to the office, A&A Studios had a main room with booths, both digital and chemical, that could be used throughout the convention. Our favorite ones of the lot were the Photomatic booths, the obvious inspiration behind our business’s name. There were 2 Photomatic booths at the Convention. This 1945 booth, pictured below, wasn’t in working order, but made for a great display nonetheless.
The other Photomatic was from 1935. It was recently completely restored, and is the only working Photomatic booth in the world. The photobooth took one picture per sitting. While the original booth used to deliver pictures in aluminum frames, those frames are no longer available, so the effect was replicated using cardboard. Here are a few pictures of the interior and exterior of the restored booth, as well as a sample of the pictures it takes.
The first night of the convention was spent at the studio where there was an opening night party. I have to say the sense of community at the convention was one of the most striking aspects of the whole weekend. We met a lot of great people, who we look forward to staying in touch with well into the future. One of the fun highlights from Friday night was when Photomatica’s very own Matt Dewalt won a signed copy of “American Photobooth” by Nakki Goranin. Check out the dedication, and if you want to see Matt blush, make sure to mention this the next time you see him:
On Saturday, Matt spoke on one of the convention’s panels. He got to drop mad knowledge about how to start your very own photobooth business. And while you’re all waiting in anticipation for that pic, I am sorry to say we don’t have one (editor’s note: a fan sent us a pic – see below). Saturday was filled with other great panels where we learned endless amounts about both chemical and digital booths. The night ended with a hugely fun photobooth pub crawl where we hit 4 different bars with photobooths. Here is a picture taken on our pub crawl.
Sunday was the last day of the convention. And I snagged a copy of Meags Fitzgerald’s comic-book-style “Photobooth- a Biography.” The book is a fun and informative history of the photobooth, and even depicts some of the photobooth icons I got to meet at the convention. It was the perfect read for the plane ride home, and Meags was kind enough to sign my copy. On Sunday, we also participated in Kate Tyler’s photobooth art project. And let’s just say I really wish I got to keep these prints (pictured below). Wouldn’t they make the perfect passport photo? Or perhaps they’d be better suited for this year’s family Christmas card?
After you take a photo shirtless in a ski mask, there isn’t much more to do besides buy some quick souvenir for the kids (pictured below), say some goodbyes, and be on your way, so we did just that.
May 26, 2014
Chances are, even if you’ve tried to avoid media coverage of Kim and Kanye’s wedding, you’ve been subjected to some of it. And lets be honest, we’re all at least a little curious about what a multi-million dollar wedding looks like. Whether you think the event had the draw of the proverbial car crash, or the allure of a fairytale, one thing is clear: some of the best photos from the entire event came from their photo booth.
From the photo booth pictures that were released, it appears that they used a digital booth that printed all black and white prints. They didn’t provide any photo booth props, and printed in a 4×6 format rather than in the more traditional format that provides for 4 photos per strip. The good news about all of this? Photo-matica also provides all of these photo booth options. So while you may not be down for the $500,000 Givenchy Haute Couture gown, we can still make sure you have the most innovative photo booth options that money can buy.
May 15, 2014
Hey, that’s my next profile pic!
We all want to take flattering photos, right? Well, today I came across this amazing article giving tips and hints about how to be your most amazing you in photos. I have to admit, the article is a little wordy—I am after all from the MTV-video game generation. So here it is, for your viewing pleasure, distilled into a few bullet points:
- Make sure the camera’s lens is at eye level, or above eye level. This is the most slimming angle.
- Do not smash your arms against your body. They will look way bigger than they actually are. Putting your hands on your hips will not only make your arms look slim, it will make your waist look more narrow.
- Try crossing your legs at your ankles. This makes your hips look curvy (in a good way), and makes your legs look slim. If you have some extra time on your hands check out some red carpet looks. The number of stars you see with their hands on their hips, and their legs crossed at their ankles is unbelievable. This is because this stance is so slimming, and amazingly flattering.
- To avoid double chins, extend and lengthen your neck. Also, consider putting your tongue on the roof of your mouth, it really helps to eliminate those unwanted double, triple, and quadruple chins.
- If you have an area you’re particularly concerned about—consider working with a photo prop, bag, or other accessory. You can use that item to your advantage and hold it in a way that minimizes or hides the trouble area.
- Remember that light-colored solid clothing will draw your attention to an area while dark-colored clothing will minimize an area. Wear a light color on the area you want to highlight and a dark color on the area you want to minimize.
Now go snap some photos!
May 13, 2014
What’s in a name?
Each Photo-matica photo booth has a name. Our first was Uncle Jesse. The next was Daisy. Daisy was followed by Cooter, Rosco, Boss Hogg, Bo, Luke, Enos, Lulu, and Cletus. When we ran out of Dukes of Hazzard characters we chose names that paid tribute to our Tennessee roots— Johnny, Dolly, Peyton, Elvis, and Smokey.
As I sit here writing this, it seems like a silly thing to do. I wouldn’t name my coffee table, or my refrigerator. Why would we name our photo booths? We certainly, as a culture, give names to other inanimate objects. For example, we name cars, boats, and hurricanes. I suppose what all of these things have in common is that each of these can hold special meaning in our lives. They can pass over us safely, devastate towns, be the place where we fall in love, travel with us on our first cross-country road trip, or carry us across the ocean…
When it comes down to it, we give names to the things in our lives that are significant. And so we’ve named our photo booths because they are significant to us; they are personal to us. They have occupied special places in our lives. They aren’t like a toaster. We conceptualized these booths, and built them in with our own hands. These booths are the result of tireless nights. These booths are the result of plans that were done, redone, and done once again. The booths have been reworked as the result of the feedback we’ve received, and in our opinion they’ve been perfected. Because these photo booths are personal, significant, and meaningful, they get named affectionately.
May 4, 2014
Alameda Flea Market
I love the Alameda Flea Market. There’s great people watching, food trucks, and vintage oddities. Plus it’s all set in an unbeatable landscape. As you walk down the old Navy base runway you can see aircraft carriers, the Port-of-Oakland shipping cranes, the Bay Bridge, and the San Francisco skyline. It makes for a pretty perfect Sunday.
Here are some of my favorite finds from today. The first is a 1940’s Photo Booth topper that still illuminates. This thing was huge, close to 3 feet tall. It’s hard to imagine this sitting securely on top of any booth, but I guess that’s just how they rolled back then— grand, substantial, imposing. I loved it. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see it light up since there aren’t many outlets in the middle of the defunct runway that houses the flea market. But it was great to see it all the same. The other is a Kodak Reflex (1946-1948). It’s a TLR (twin-lens reflex) camera that prints 2 ¼ x 2 ¼ prints on 620 film. ‘Til next time Alameda Flea Market.
May 2, 2014
Growing up Photobooth
Photo-matica’s first booth is exactly the same age as Doug’s oldest son, Johnny. And we mean exactly. Our first booth was the product of tireless nights spent toiling away in a San Francisco garage in the days, weeks, and months following Johnny’s birth. And the unintended result of that has been sort of amazing. As Photo-matica has grown up, so has Johnny. Unintentionally, Photo-matica has created a photo essay of his first three and a half years. This was just the bi-product of Johnny wanting to jump in the booth every time he swung by to say hi, or helped bring dinner to Matt and Doug while they worked late hours, or prepared for a big event. Photo-matica’s growth has been in many forms. It has meant finding the perfect print size– as we went from 2″ x 8″ to the more traditional 2″ x 6″, perfecting the artwork, finding the most flattering flash, the most universal background, and of course, the perfect seat width. As Johnny’s photo strips are reviewed it’s more difficult to catalog his growth. He has certainly gotten taller, and has grown a longer red mop on his head, but it also seems that he has come to appreciate the photo booth more. When you compare his early photos to the more recent, you can see he has definitely become a more savvy photo booth user. He now knows to look at the camera instead of the screen. And he has learned how to change up his expressions in the appropriate way. He has learned that props just aren’t his thing. He’s even slept with his photo strips. He has in essence become a photo booth ham. And he knows it as he rejoices “dad’s work is cool. dad’s work is really cool.”
April 27, 2014
Spreading photo booth LOVE
The San Francisco Bay Area is one of the most amazing places on earth. It houses a major metropolitan city, and has incredible surf, mountains, mountain biking, hiking, vineyards, and beaches within a short drive. It has historically been the first to embrace a long list of counter-cultures. It also tends to have residents that appreciate the one-of-a-kind, the unique, the do-it-yourself-ers, the local resource-ers, the single batch-ers, the home spun, and the home made. Photo-matica was initially started here because we knew people would get it. They would appreciate the local sourcing, the independent business, the vintage inspiration, and the fact that the booth was conceptualized, built, and refined in a San Francisco garage. But this venture has become much more. It is no longer about the Bay Area appreciating what we’re doing; it is about truly making the people who live here happy. It is about spreading joy, and enthusiasm. And it’s about helping people celebrate once in a lifetime nights—their weddings, proms, birthdays, anniversaries, and reunions.
I have a huge grin on my face when I sit down on a Sunday night after a weekend like the one I just had. Over the course of the last few days Photo-matica made appearances at local proms, a beautiful store re-opening, gorgeous weddings, and an incredible birthday party. These events brought us to places like Stern Grove, the Asian Art Museum, and the de Young. At each event we truly made people happy. We made them smile. We helped them commemorate the evening. I love the Bay Area more than any other, and I love that I get to show up to people’s life events and make everyone there enjoy themselves just a little bit more.
April 23, 2014
What Might Be
In one short week I will find myself among the bright lights of Sin City. Vegas, baby. I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to fit in a trip to the Neon Boneyard while I am there. It’s a big ol’ dusty field of glory where you can go to expose yourself to unparalleled desert sun and look at refurbished neon signs. It’s like getting a visit from the ghost of Vegas past.
I recognize that looking at old signs in scorching heat isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time, but I love these signs for the same reason I love old photo booths. When I look at some of the original photo booths, or when I look at these old signs I am reminded of the past. I think about where these objects may have lived, who may have enjoyed them, how they may have been used, and by whom. What elicit affair may have taken place just past the entrance of where this Vegas sign was displayed? Who may have cranked this old photo booth seat so that their eyes were aligned just right with the arrows before they stuck in a quarter and struck their best Fred Astaire?
But, it’s more than just the history that I love. These old signs, these old booths show you that things change. Things adapt. The signs that were once a glow in the biggest little city, are now art installations in the neon museum. And photo booths have adapted from the old chemical vending booths, to digital powerhouses at virtually every modern day graduation, wedding, and reunion. Looking at these old signs helps me imagine what could be. It helps me think about transformation, adaptation, and reinvention. Concepts that are essential if we want to avoid getting trapped in old ideas, and be part of the progress of the future.
April 21, 2014
Your favorite photo booth guys (ahem… Doug and Matt) are gearing up for the International Photo booth Convention in Chicgo, which is a mere 46 days away. For those of you who may suspect that we are overstating our excitement, you have to understand– this is our comic con, our trekkie convention. We plan to do nothing for three days except for geek out, gawk, and bask in the smell of old chemical booths while we rub elbows with photo booth artists, enthusiasts, and experts.
April 17, 2014
Were photo booths the original selfies?
There is no doubt that we are in the midst of a selfie epidemic. In fact, Oxford Dictionary announced selfie as “the international word of the year” on November 19, 2013. Even the pope is taking them.
But is this selfie epidemic that surprising? Since the dawn of photography people have been using cameras to take portraits. And since the dawn of the photo booth people have been using photo booths to take selfies. When photo booths were first introduced in the mid-1920s, they were a smash hit. The photo booth revolutionized photography. People were mesmerized to the point where they were willing to part with cash during the depression so that they could sit down with no one else around except for a machine and instantaneously record their own image. These photo booths were instantly popular because they offered a low cost way that people could record their own image, print it, and then share it with friends and relatives. The photo booth allowed people to indulge in a love affair with themselves, and experiment with how they wanted to be seen. They got to ask and answer what expression, clothes, staging, and style of photo they wanted to convey to the public.
And isn’t this exactly what the modern day selfie is all about? You get to take a moment, with just you and your cell phone, and experiment with how you want to portray yourself. Some may say narcassism, but how can you hate on all that self-expression, fashion, emotion and just plain swagger? So jump in a photo booth or grab your nearest cell phone, take that selfie and share it with the world.