Monday, June 21, 2010
When at a wedding, office party or bar mitzvah, sometimes you need to commemorate the occasion. You and your friends, co-workers or chosen people might want a memento of the awesomeness that was your social gathering. By gum, you need a photo! But where, oh where, is the blasted photographer? Off photographing something far less interesting than whatever it is you’re doing, that’s where! Or hitting on your cousin, accountant or rabbi.
Regardless, photographers are notoriously fickle and flighty beasts. If only there was a way to bolt a camera down to one spot, so you could just take the cursed photo yourself. Why, lord, have we not progressed enough as a civilization that — while a man can tread upon the face of our cosmos thanks to the miracles of human innovation — we lack the scientific know-how to photograph ourselves without the aid of a fallible primate?
Wait, what? You’re saying such advances are indeed within our grasp? A photography chamber of some sort? Or “photo booth” to the laymen? And they are available for procurement right here in our hamlet of Lawrence? How could this be? And why am I talking like Gilded Age moron?
“Turns out, the problem with getting a good photo is the photographer,” says Ailecia Ruscin, a Lawrence photographer who has been offering the OH!SNAP!PHOTOBOOTH! at parties and get-togethers for the past decade.
“People relax when they’re not being watched. When there is no immediate audience, people relax and the photos really show it. There’s something about the photo booth, and the opportunity to take more than one photo, that gives people an opportunity to try out their facial expressions. It’s like playing at home in the mirror, except you might get a new profile pic out of it.”
Ruscin’s photo booth isn’t so much a booth as it is a digital camera on a tripod with a dangling button that the subject can press. She describes it as a “DIY photo booth,” the background of which you can change on a whim. If you’re looking for an actual booth, and one that spits out photo strips like the old-timey booths, RedBox Photo Booth, www.RedboxPhotobooth.com, has you covered. They set up a (surprise) big red box the size and shape of a walk-in closet.
“Something magical happens when you enter a photo booth,” says John Monaghan, who along with his wife, Erin, began RedBox here in Lawrence. “It is intimate, secret, fun, and it is perfectly natural and acceptable to act out in ways that you normally wouldn’t. Silly faces, kisses and headstands, the photo booth captures all and gives it permanence in prints that will last a lifetime.”
The photo booth as we know it was born in 1925 at the Photomaton Studio in New York City, the product of a Russian immigrant and photographic entrepreneur named Anatol Josepho. While the principle is still the same, a few things have indeed changed since the days of Mr. Josepho’s black and white film strips.
“The photo booths available today have the added benefit of being digital,” says Monaghan, with both RedBox and OH!SNAP!PHOTOBOOTH! being digital. “Our clients get a CD with copies of every photo the booth takes for their event, sometimes as many as 150. They can post some or all of them to their favorite websites, e-mail them to friends and family, or reprint them for framing.”
And while the technology might have evolved over the decades, the novelty of having instant, intimate snap shots of a moment in time remains the same.
“I love what the photo booth brings to parties,” says Ruscin. “One, it’s an activity in and of itself. Sometimes the photo booth makes the party. It’s usually set-up somewhere off on its own. The photo booth room holds its own with the dance floor, the smoking porch, and other accouterments of modern day partying. Two, it’s a future document — a reminder, in case you’re blacked out, of all the hotties you partied with that night. Three, a future stalking tool — as all your friends tag each other on Facebook and you can find out your crush’s name, interests, and favorite TV shows. Very important information.”