Wednesday, 27 May 2009

How to move a booth; it's official!

Since we witnessed the wonders of Anthony's technique of moving the booths in Chicago, we have been on the look out for similiar trucks. And we found this, which we thought was rather hilarious. I guess this way is officially the right way to move a booth, as illustrated by this lovely old man:

We are still on the look out for chemicals, but, finally, we have made contact with someone at Photo Me UK who seems really interested in our project and keen to help out. So fingers crossed some news soon.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

No longer the one and only...

We have found out we are not the only black and white booth in London. Photoautomat, the Berlin based collective, have got here first. We knew that they were planning to bring one to London, but didn't think it would be so soon.

So we went to check out our competition. It is based in Cargo, a very trendy bar in Shoreditch, which is housed in 2 railway arches. It is a decent venue; it has gigs and club nights and is also open during the day for lunches. And, because it is a rather large place, I was imagining the booth to be inside. But no - turns out it is in the beer garden! Which seems to me a rather strange place to put it; the only punters in the evening are likely to be the smokers who take refuge there due to the smoking ban...

Aesthetically, they have not pushed the boat out. From the outside it is just plain blue metal, scuffed and dented. Inside, instructions are written with black marker on a piece of paper which is sellotaped to the wall. So we were keen to see what the strips were like.

(photo courtesy of Photoautomat's flickr)

But the booth wouldn't take our money!

We asked the girls at the bar - they said the technicians had come that morning to check everything was OK. But it didn't work; the coins just fell through the slot. Judging by the strips on their website, however, they are not that great - a lot of flare going on in the top left corner.

So that was that. Disappointment but also an inside feeling of smugness! Siobhan went another time with a friend and the bar was closed so they couldn't try it out. Which was wierd, as it was a Thursday night.

When I heard there may be another booth in London (which, actually, was in Chicago - Brian had received an email from Photoautomat) I felt a little upset that we could no longer claim to be the first. But now, I realise that it is a good thing there is competition. It means the British are getting a taste for these old machines again, as are, it seems, other countries in Europe. This resurgance of old processes in a digital age interests me... so more soon.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Shedding its skin

Last night at our booth meeting we decided to rip off all the horrible, grey industrial metal from the outside of the booth. It was strangely cathartic - but very hard work. My muscles are screaming this morning!

The front part with the lovely lady was easy enough to take off - just a few screws to undo. Then the side panels, too, were simple once we got the knack. It was the panel with the mirror which got us thinking. It was a bit like the Krypton factor - we just couldn't work out where it screwed in. In the end it was a case of lifting it from the bottom and hoisting it off its support.

As for the back, it was a sheet of thin metal which had not only been screwed on, but also STUCK on with double sided tape! And, to add insult to injury, underneath we uncovered a beautiful vintage veneer... now ruined cos of double sided tape and a crowbar, which was the only way of getting the bastard off.

But I think we have taken off a good 100kg from the overall weight, and I must say the booth does look a lot smaller, lighter and more manageable. But more importantly, it's a clean slate for the creative juices to flow!

Monday, 18 May 2009

An empty bottle, a rainbow and a skylark

After the clear up, it was just us and Danny Minnick left... so we decided to spend the afternoon and evening looking for photobooths in different bars around Chicago.

First stop was The Empty Bottle, which Siobhan instantly fell in love with... it was a cool hang out; a bar and concert venue which included a games room with snooker table, pin ball machine and photobooth:

... run by the very friendly and fellow booth enthusiast Will.

The booth was a little dark... but not a bad thing!

Next, a tramp through the snow took us to the Rainbo Club; also famous for its booth, and a calender it produces each year of photobooth strips. Here began the collaboration between Photomovette and the King of photobooth art:

Finally, onto the Skylark, at the other side of town. And the other side of town in Chicago is quite a trek; we ended up getting a lift from a random guy we met in at Irish Pub. But we were rewarded with a bustling, uber-cool student hang out. Much to Danny's disappointment, we missed the live band, but were still in time to borrow the mic, so our strip in this booth had each of us singing our little hearts out. Very cool, Danny kept it... must get a scan from him one day. For now, you'll have to be content with this... Love the curved corners.

Then off we went in the snow, with a list of booths to try the next day...

Thursday, 14 May 2009

ICP Chicago: Day 3

Day 3 was a clear up day. On the Sunday we went to help Tim, Brian and Anthony break down the exhibition and move the booths. We got there a little late due to the very late night the night before, but were still in time to help Anthony pack up one of his chemical booths and move it to the truck.

And what an insight into what is to come! There is so much more involved than just the booth itself. Tarps, bottles, buckets... trolleys, straps and so on and so on. We helped Anthony dispose of the chemicals (not all; some are kept and put back in their boxes), and then helped him move a booth. Yes, I actually moved a booth!

The trick is to have the right kind of trucks. Trucks like this, one at either end, and strapped together:

Then, it is easy for two people to wheel it around:

Me and Anthony wheeling the booth to the truck. And very easy! (although admittedly I had the lighter side...)

And then I had an epiphany which I think is one reason why we found it so hard to find a space for our booth in London. Doors in the US are larger then over here. So you can get booths through any old door: (even through bleary, hung over eyes...)

Onto the taillift and into the truck (here Brian and Tim took over from me - this bit does require lifting.)

So that's it! Lessons learned. And it was time for a little celebratory photobooth crawl around Chicago... pics to come!

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

A very good start...

So we finally had our first stint with the booth. Can't believe it's a month since we were at the IPC in Chicago, and we've only just got round to doing our first "booth evening". Now they are going to be regular... so hopefully blog updates will be more regular too!

But it was a very good start. Almost too good...

Our intention was to unpack the insides properly, and check that the transmission was aligned. In fact, we got much more than that done! Working through the DVD (which I highly recommend, it is dated in terms of hairstyle and technology but VERY useful), we checked the alignment of the transmission (fine), checked the alignment of the carriers (all fine) and checked the alignment of the tanks (also fine). In doing this, we had to run it as if it was taking a picture; all strobes worked (!), the paper feeds through smoothly, everything happens as it should - including the hairdryer at the end to dry the strip.

So we are over the moon. And trying to get our hands on chemicals. We also realised that we do not have the keys to lock the door, so for the moment it isn't light tight and is a little useless! But minor details compared to what could have gone wrong.

Also realised that we can take off the ugly grey industrial metal casing it is in very easily... so thoughts are now to aestheticising it which is much more fun!

More IPC news and images to come soon... watch this space.