Meags Fitzgerald is a Canadian artist and writer, currently living in Montreal. Her long-time obsession with photobooths started as a teenager and grew when in 2006 she found the international photobooth community through Photobooth.net, a website dedicated to locating and preserving chemical photobooths. Meags is the author and illustrator of Photobooth: A Biography, a graphic novel chronicling the history and significance of the photobooth, which has received much acclaim since its release in May 2014. Meags was also one of the organizers of this year’s International Photobooth Convention.
When we met Meags at the International Photo Booth Convention in Chicago last month, and heard about her book, we were instantly drawn to her story. Her knowledge of the industry is vast and personal. The passion she has for the photobooth is both comforting and inspirational. We jumped at the chance to share her inspiration and insight with the booth community. She was kind enough to answer a few questions for our newsletter:
Imaging Spectrum: Not many people can say they are so passionate about Photo Booths that they have traveled to North America, Europe, and Australia to research the topic. Creating a “biography of the booth” through the lives of booth technicians, owners, collectors and fanatics from around the world sounds challenging. What were the challenges in bringing it to life?
Meags Fitzgerald: There were a lot of challenges during the process of course, but traveling, meeting individuals in the community and industry and conducting interviews was a tremendous amount of fun. I look back at the stage of the project with fond memories. The difficult part followed, when I essentially locked myself in my room for a year to write and illustrate the Photobooth: A Biography. For a book of its size, I produced it in a very short time frame, regularly working 14 or 16 hour days on it. I ate a lot of frozen pizzas during the process.
IS: Where did your inspiration for your book come from?
MF: I’ve been using photobooths with my friends and in my artwork for over ten years. So my personal history with the machines made it an easy subject matter to explore further. I’ve always been a reader of comic books and I’m a history buff, so the book emerged naturally from combining my favorite things. I chose to create it at this time because of multiple factors that threaten the continued existence of chemical photobooths. I wanted to tell their story before they’re gone.
IS: The audience for this newsletter will be a wide variety of photo booth and event industry people. The majority of them are involved in portable digital booths and only a small handful of owners still maintain coin-op chemical booths. What is your opinion of these ultra portable and sometime minimalistic designs of the digital booths that are so popular today?
MF: I think all photobooths, no matter how they produce photographs, are a ton of fun to use. As long as the user experience continues to be positive, I think the popularity of portable digital booths will continue to rise.
IS: At the International Photo Booth Convention you seemed to enjoy the “mugshot wall” that was created with sticker print media from a digital booth using the Brava 21 printer . That was a unique experience everyone seemed to really enjoy. What are your thoughts about the sticker technology that was used to create the mugshot wall?
MF: I thought the quality of the photos for the mugshot wall were great. It was a really fun idea that Anthony Vizzari came up with. I think sticker booths are another fun variation that photobooths can offer.
If you would like a chance to win a copy of her book, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the heading “Meags Book” and you may be one of two lucky winners for a free copy. Please include your mailing address and preferred method of contact in the event your name is chosen.