We are delighted to be having Marco Ferrari exhibit his photobooth work at The International Photobooth Convention. To introduce himself, Marco told us a bit about why he has a love for analogue photobooths, and about the work he creates in them.
I was born in Italy and now live in London. I got into photography, and analogue photography through Polaroid I was fascinated by all the different cameras they built and how specific and technical they were.
Photobooths in Italy were (and still are in their digital version) used for passport and ID purposes and they were available mainly in train and bus stations but also on street corners. They were outside, available 24/7 and often vandalised.
I remember using the one at my home town train station with friends during our first nights out as teenagers. We were usually a group of 4 and we were cutting the 4 frames to keep one each. Then all of a sudden the analogue booths were all replaced by digital machines. In my hometown it happened quickly because we had only two, in bigger cities the last ones were removed in 2008.
Since then we felt the loss of something we gave for granted, the unpredictability of analogue machines was replaced by cold and impersonal digital booths. This is when the analogue photobooth started to reappear in Europe after years of neglect, partly thanks to the “Amelie factor”, first in Berlin then in other German cities and slowly in all of Europe.
I started to travel and to use photobooths everywhere I found them: Berlin, Riga, Cesena (Italy), Paris, Helsinki, London and Toronto (Canada). Everywhere I went I was mainly looking for new ways to take portraits of unknown people. The photobooth is the perfect camera to make people comfortable. You are on your own and you see yourself in the glass without a photographer staring to you.
In 2009 I had the chance to buy my own photobooth, probably the last surviving Dedem FT-22 colour booth and I stepped into the world of technicians, understanding more and more the technology that makes everything possible.
With it I shoot almost everything: from lingerie to abstract pieces, from Christmas cards to a whole 24 hours in photos. Here in London I am helping the guys at Photomaquina (they have 5 of the 6 photobooths now available to use) and I use them for my personal work.
I am taking hundreds of photo strips per year and I have 3 ongoing projects at the moment: INKED in which I take photos of tattooed people, PHOTOGRAPHERS IN THE BOOTH in which I explore the reaction of photographers to the automatic portrait and a series of more simple and delicate portraits a friend of mine called SOBER portraits.
The photobooth is a slow camera and in the 3 minutes waiting for each photo the sitter is not unknown any more. This, with its sounds and even smells, is what makes the photobooth magic.