So, we have a fun one for you today! Jesse Freidin runs a photobooth. But not for your typical crazy wedding guest. This one is for your bed-hogging, couch-cuddling, bone-burying best friend. It’s an Instant Doggie Photobooth! Check out this short video taken at Jesses annual Instant Doggie Photobooth at Gumps Luxury Home Decor in San Francisco
How and why did you start this project?
I did my first ‘Instant Doggie Photobooth’ around 2011 because I frequently get requests to participate in various dog-related events and galas. People wanted me to do a digital photobooth where I took quick snap-shots (one of my most un-favorite words) against a silly fake background, and offered guests cheap digital prints or digital files. Since I don’t do anything digitally, I came up with my own version of a photobooth based on old fashioned booths where people drew a curtain, sat for four poses, and had to wait 5 minutes for their strip to get passed through the chemistry, developed, dried, and dropped down the chute. It’s the opposite of what other photographers offer, and people really love it.
Why did you choose to do it on instant film?
I love instant film. It’s the antithesis of digital, and it creates true one of a kind original prints. This gives in credible value and sentimentality to each photograph, which is very important to me. In a world where everything is fast and digital and automatic- instant film in a big analog camera is inherently special and unique.
What kind of equipment and lighting setup do you use?
I use either a Horseman 4×5 field camera with a Polaroid back, or the Fuji Fotorama. Most of the time I shoot with Fuji pack film (100c or 100b), or if it’s a very special event or crowd I’ll charge extra and pull out some special discontinued original Polaroid stock. I use a very simple light kit with no more than two strobes, and my favorite vintage hand-painted canvas background. I’ll prop dogs up on a small chair or box to get the right height.
Is running a booth using instant film and shoot adorable subjects as fun as I imagine it?
Running the ‘Instant Doggie Photobooth’ is so much fun. People are always smiling and laughing and loving the instant prints. It’s a wonderful experience. It’s also incredibly busy and hectic and challenging- getting people to understand the guidelines and stay calm, getting dogs to sit and listen to my direction, keeping the lighting perfect, refocusing constantly, re-loading film constantly, exposing and peeling instant film, signing prints etc – it’s a real circus act. Thankfully, I always take my trusty assistant.
What kind of reaction do you get from clients because you use instant film instead of say digital and give a digital print?
Every single person who walks by or is signed up in advance for the photobooth is in awe of the magic of instant film. They don’t necessarily already know that I am shooting instant film, but when they see my camera and see my assistant peeling pack film and see the quality of the prints- they are hooked. People often ask if they get a digital copy- which is an understandable question. I don’t offer digital copies, and kindly explain to them that they are getting a signed one-of-one limited edition analog print which is incredibly valuable. I have clients come back to my photobooth multiple times a year to add to their collection of instant dog portraits. I’ve seen clients with three or four of my polaroids on their mantle from years past. It’s wonderful.
If you charge for the booth, is it cost effective to use instant film for the booth?
Because the film is fairly expensive and it takes so much time to set up and run the booth, along with me and my assistant’s time- I never do the booth for free. I sometimes do the photobooth for a fundraiser, which is a lot of fun. But I always charge for each print. Photographers simply cannot be expected to do work for free, whether they are working digitally or with film. It is cost effective for me, though a much smaller investment for my clients than booking a proper Fine Art Dog Photography Session with my studio. Many times clients will get a polaroid dog portrait at the photobooth and a year or so later schedule a real session. It’s simply a fun and creative way to introduce new people to my studio, compile a large portfolio of instant dog portraits, get out there and talk to my community, and stay relevant.
And now for some pictures!
For more information on Jesse or the Doggie Photobooths, please check out the following links. (Dates are always announced on Facebook and in his newsletter)