Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Elusive Photobooth

For as long as I can remember, I have loved photobooths. You know, the ugly boxes which used the haunt Woolworth's stores 20 years ago? I only had limited exposure to the one at our local Woolworth's before it closed, but a movie theatre nearby had one, and man did I love it. I mean, it was in the most obnoxious cinema in town, but I'd go there just for the photobooth. Sadly, even that one is gone now.

What is it about photobooths, anyway? A few years ago, my lovely friend Autumn and I stumbled across an awesome old black and white booth in Myrtle Beach and made jubilant use of it (see left), and since then, I have sorely missed the lack of these contraptions in my life. Happily, one day I found has, among other things, a pretty comprehensive list of all of the photobooths in the continental US (although is doesn't have the Myrtle Beach booth, not that I can remember where it was anymore, anyway) and elsewhere. Want to hunt one out? Check the list! They also have pages for photobooth-related art, photobooths in movies, music, on television, etc. The creators of the site, Tim and Brian, refer to the photobooth as a "vanishing American icon," and it is that, but I also see it as more.

Think about it: you put in a coin (or several dollars--times do change), hit the button, and then have seconds during which four flashes capture you and whoever else is crammed into the booth with you in an unchangeable series of photos. If that's not an instant piece of art, then I don't know what is. I recommend finding a booth, grabbing a friend, and hopping in. Don't plan it, just go. If you don't walk away laughing, with a memorable piece of art in tow, then I will be very, very surprised.

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