Four Flashes & You’re Done

One part studio photography, two parts snapshot styled self-portraiture, the photobooth possesses the perfect amalgamation of convenience and immediacy. This pictorial box offers an inexpensive and easy opportunity for self-portraiture, where the sitter simultaneously becomes both the image-maker and the subject. Alone in the photobooth, there is nothing to prove; one can forgo the expectations when a camera is turned upon you. You cannot be beguiled into positions; you cannot be directed to smoulder beneath the fluorescent lighting. The photobooth acts as a privatized studio space that you are paying to occupy for a few moments.

Exclusively created in the Westfield Valencia Town Center, these photobooth images are a ritualized weekly archive. In a folkloric sentiment regarding Santa Clarita’s city planning, it is believed that “all roads lead back to the mall.” Situated in a public space, the kiosk is merely a stage within the enclosure of the mall, a platform where you have four chances to capture an image of your choice. Within the photobooth, the sitter is digitized into a projected video in real-time on the backside of the cubicle. This spectacle creates a performative aspect for both the individuals inside and outside of the photobooth. Brining in outside objects, external lighting, and colored gels, I have began the process of decorating my studio space; the same space that temporarily houses long-distant lovers, apathetic teenagers, divorced housewives, and children too small to reach the stagnant camera framing. The pictures represent a visual diary, not necessarily of a specific time or place – there are other photographic techniques better suited to that purpose – but of the reoccurring impulse that compels us to seek out and place ourselves in front of a camera.

Fred R. Bernard infamously said that ‘a picture is worth ten thousand words,’ but what he failed to acknowledge is that language is frequently riddled with lies. There is still a tendency to believe that photographic images are synonymous with a truthful record of an event or person, despite our ever-increasing consciousness of pictorial manipulation in both content and meaning. Memory and imagination converge with documentation and reshape a single moment into an entire story, until all we remember is that instant defined and distilled within that picture. In the photobooth image, unlike any other portrait or photograph, honesty and the fictitious easily collapse in on one another; it is a space we choose the manner and way in which we represent ourselves. And in which, we inevitably select our truth.