Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

March 10, 2010

Documenting The Documenting

I am a fan of photobooths.

Anytime I see one I grab whoever is with me and we jump inside. We drop coins in the slot or gently coax in dollar bills (making sure they are crisp and right-side-up) or swipe a card. We make a few poses, laugh a lot, and in just three-or-so-minutes this glorious little strip of images is released into the world. There's one at our local movie theater and there was a fantastic one at the Ace Hotel in Portland where we stayed with my sister a few weekends back. The images above were captured at the hotel.

I found a site that can help you locate photobooths in your area. Check out this link to


When I was going back through my photos from our weekend one of the things I noticed was that we had a couple photos that
documented the documenting. These photos, captured by my Mom, show us in action. They show us together, doing our thing, living a little bit of our story inside a photobooth.

Do you have any photos that show you or your family participating in the process of gathering images?

Maybe it's a photo of you taking pictures of your kids, or your favorite flowers, or your pet, or your coffee cup – whatever it is that you love to take photos of in your life.

If not, it may just take you asking a parent, friend, partner or even a child to snap a couple shots. Maybe it's with a camera phone or a point and shoot – anything that can capture an image you can then use on a layout in conjunction with the photos that you took (or were taken by something like a photobooth).

Having both captured tells an even richer story.

Here's the layout that combines the inside and outside photos (click the image below to view larger):

The Ace Hotel : Portland, Oregon. One of the reasons I was excited to stay at the Ace was because I knew about the famous photobooth that sits in the lobby. I love photobooths. It's impossible for me to pass one by without inserting some money and getting photos taken with whoever happens to be with me at the moment. Over the course of the our stay we the booth three times. Once with me, Anna & Simon. Once with me & Simon (and one where Chris popped his head in the booth). And once with Chris, Simon and me. I love these shots. They are dark. They are imperfect. They are silly. I also love that we have a shot of us from the outside (taken by my Mom). It's a bit of documenting the documenting. It's always cool to see ourselves from the outside. A peek at us in action, together, hanging out. Family getaways like this are also really important to me. Getting out of our daily routine is refreshing and fun and always an adventure…just like popping in a photobooth.

Studio Calico Dash
SQUIGGLE-ARROW PATTERN PAPER : Cosmo Cricket Detour Joy Ride
YELLOW STRIP : Studio Calico FabRips
BLACK DASH PATTERN PAPER : K&Company Poppy Seed Gray Dots
YELLOW LETTER STICKERS : Basic Grey Origins Micro Mono Stickers
CAMERA CIRCLE STICKER : Studio Calico Die Cut Stickers 20% Extra Flashy
FONTS : Adler, Garamond


  • 1.
    Molly Irwin said…

    I adore this!

  • 2.
    Barb M. said…

    Fun! i love the layout. I like the lighting on the one of you and Chris that your Mom took.

  • 3.
    Expat said…

    I love that! Documenting the documenting. My husband is a portrait painter here in England, and it is not unusual for us to have journalists and photographers come to the studio to do a story about a recently finished painting. Some of my favourite pictures are when I occasionally take a shot of the photographer photographing Richard. It brings another whole dimension to things. Must remember to do it more often. Thanks for reminding me, Ali.

  • 4.
    ShellyJ said…

    Fabulous! simply fabulous :)

  • 5.
    honeyflake said…

    so much fun captured on that page.
    i’m sharing you photobooth love.
    i’ll share our photo of us photoboothing at our ace hotel from a few weeks ago, have a peek:

  • 6.
    tara pakosta said…

    we have one by our movie theatre that we have popped into only once. We really need to do that more often! My favorite pix of my mom when she was little are from a photo booth! so CUTE!
    love the layout!

  • 7.
    Samara said…

    I LOVE IT! I really like basically everything you make. :) But this is very cool. Really. So clever. So fun. Such a great way to show off your family and make a memento of a fun time spent together. You rock!

  • 8.
    Kal said…

    You are so awesome, Ali! I love it.

  • 9.
    Angela said…

    How appropriate that this is what you are thinking about today. I was just musing on my own blog about how I love photos of people taking photos! I love it. The question I am wondering about is whether it’s weird to want to bring my camera to my own wedding. Do you think that’s weird?

  • 10.
    Kelly Massman said…

    What fun! I love photobooths. I would love to find a photobooth here in Missouri that takes the old-fashioned black and white pictures! We have only found the black and white with blues and stuff around it that look more modern.

  • 11.
    Ali Edwards said…

    I don’t think it’s weird to want to have it at all…but I would probably encourage you to really just BE in the moment(s) for that one. Maybe one of your parents, siblings, friends, etc could also be photographing along with the photographer?

  • 12.
    Deb J said…

    These are great. I think photobooths are fun too. But I don’t know where any are around here (Phoenix). Would love to find one and have fun playing.

  • 13.
    sarah said…

    love this page ali!

  • 14.
    Elaine Allen said…

    Ali -
    These are just awesome! I remember doing this with my friends when we were in high school. In fact, I have some of my Mom with her friends!
    Elaine Allen

  • 15.
    Jeni said…

    “…living a little bit of our story inside a photobooth.”
    I just finished reading Don Miller’s book (A Million Miles in a Thousand Years) and loved it. It got me and my husband really thinking about the stories that we are living and projecting to the world. Thanks for the recommendation Ali.

  • 16.
    Kristyn G said…

    love the layout and its story, Ali! I will be on the lookout for a booth around our area.
    Question-do you scan and reprint the photo strips or do you use the originals directly on your layout?

  • 17.
    Jeni said…

    Hi Angela – I hope you don’t mind that I popped my head in here too. I don’t think it’s weird at all either. YOU should be at your wedding and the love of taking pictures is part of you. I brought my camera to my wedding and other people took pictures with it. At one point at the reception I was taking pictures and my sister quickly took it away – maybe because she knows I can get engrossed in the process. We had a non-traditional ceremony in a park where my husband and I walked towards the gathered guests. I thought afterwards that it would have been funny and cool if I had pulled out a camera and taken a picture of people as they were watching us walk towards them. This was (IS) me and I am sure people would have thought it an appropriate thing for me to do. Having pro and guest photos of me in a wedding dress with my camera in my hand would just be a reflection of who I am. It turns out we don’t actually have a picture like that… of the crowd as we saw them. But at the same time, it would not have been good for me to do this all day and night. In hindsight, I wish that I had had a conversation with my photographer (or family members taking pictures) about the kinds of photos that I would have taken at my wedding. This seems obvious and we certainly talked a lot but I was struck after the wedding to find that the majority of photos were of my husband and me. I would have like more of the guests – these are the pictures that I would have taken if I had had a camera.
    It’s your wedding. You only get to do it once (hopefully). Do the things that you want to do… the things that you will look back on and smile at because they were fun and crazy and maybe perceived as a little odd at the time.
    Oh yeah – One more thing: Kind of like what Ali said… The absolute best advice I got leading up to and on the day of my wedding was to enjoy the whole day. It goes by so fast that it is important to try and take it easy and enjoy the little moments and even the things that go wrong.

  • 18.
    Ali Edwards said…

    I used the originals here but I also scanned them in and have them in my computer now too.

  • 19.
    Patrick Ng said…

    Is that a black and white only booth or you got to select yourself? Love the idea Ali, its like having fun again with something long forgotten, now I wonder if there is any photo booth still left in my city (Hong Kong), nowadays even photo labs are disappearing.

  • 20.
    Ann said…

    How fun!!! I love the pics your mom captured. The next photo booth we see, we are jumping in!

  • 21.
    Ali Edwards said…

    This was a black and white only booth – super cool. Here’s a cool link that let’s you search your area for photosbooths:

  • 22.
    Patrick Ng said…

    wow there’s a international photobooth convention happening every year. yup Ann, I’m jumping in to the next photo booth too, perhaps I should grab somebody on street with me…. “100 strangers with me in a 2′x3′ photobooth”.

  • 23.
    Terri said…

    I love this! My brother is a great photographer and outdoorsman. We are with him all the time and I have so many shots of him taking shots! I am going to compile them into a mini-book, Ali. His birthday is March 25th!
    Thanks soooooooooooooooooooooo much!

  • 24.
    Karen G said…

    I always hit the photo booth at the Fair every summer with my kidlets……such fantastic instant gratification…er, um, I mean documenting! :> And I prefer the B&W photo booths to the color ones…the pics just seem more timeless somehow.
    As for documenting the documenting, I love the combo on your layout. I do have a handful of pics of me scrapping with friends, but not pics of the pics being taken….an interesting idea, particularly that it then includes the one not in the photos.
    Hope your week is going great! :>

  • 25.
    Amber Lee said…

    I love photobooths. We had an old black and white one brought to our wedding. People could take unlimited photos – and they did. My friend and I made up guest books to slip the strips in that people left us and I could go through those everyday they are so awesome. I love going to our friends houses and seeing the strips up on their fridges three years later. I’ve also made layouts documenting the picture taking – from my film days I sewed a strip of photo processing envelopes with my last name on them down the side of a page and paired it with a picture of my husband setting up the tripod to show just how many photos we took on our road trip. Excellent stories – love this layout.

  • 26.
    Candy said…

    Love, love, LOVE it Ali!
    Being the ‘picture taker’ of my family, I know how treasured it is to come across something that includes me in it! [I took your BPS class last fall, and realized how much I miss out on the fun, made a vow to get into more shots, but I'm failing miserably]. This is a layout you’ll cherish for a long time. Since I read that you enjoy the photo booth pictures, I too have tried to be more ‘spontaneous’. I recently did a layout including the strip too. And I LOVE it! Framed it and hung it up.

  • 27.
    ale said…

    {sigh} another perfect layout, ali. you guys are one of the most beautiful families i’ve ever seen.

  • 28.
    Cynthia H said…

    I love how you interspersed the journaling with some yellow/orange text. More proof that you are so good at using these colors!

  • 29.
    Kate said…

    I have to admit to not being inside a Photobooth since I was a kid. Maybe I need to go find one somewhere!
    Aloha, Kate

  • 30.
    Donna Tullis said…

    Ali….you just make me happy. I always leave your blog with such a good feeling in my heart…thanks for that!

  • 31.
    patty said…

    i love, love photo booths! i remember as a teen cramming in a photo booth with friends and laughing and making crazy faces!!! good memories…i am definately going to check out the website. thanks for sharing…

  • 32.

    I love photo booths!! What a great layout! I think we will have to use your link and find a photo booth close by!
    And I will have to dig mine out and get them in my scrapbook!!

  • 33.
    Carrie said…

    What a great post! This reminds me of a photo I took of my daughter and husband, both with cameras out, taking pictures of the ocean while we were in the Outer Banks in North Carolina. I need to print it out and scrapbook it!

  • 34.
    Kathy said…

    Love the idea of documenting the documenting! Just last week I took a photo of my grandson playing in a short tunnel on a playground with my daughter taking the same photo from the other side. So we each got a pic of each other taking a photo of Sebastian with each other in it. You can bet those 2 photos are going side by side in a layout!

  • 35.
    Julie said…

    I also LOVE photo booths!! We hop in one everytime we find one. Thanks for the link and the inspiration!

  • 36.
    sue said…

    A photo booth? How fun and I love the layout you did with those photos and the ones your Mom took. I will definately check out the photo booth link and see if there are any left in the midwest.

  • 37.
    Deb said…

    There is an Ap for the iphone that is a photobooth. I do not have an iphone so I am not sure how it works.

  • 38.
    Ali W said…

    Thanks for sharing that site, Ali. Here in NZ I have yet to see a photobooth, apart from those goofy ones that print the tiniest pictures with crazy Japanese manga backgrounds. I want a good old 4 photo strip booth like I used to frequent as a teenager in the UK! I know my 8 year old would love them, and so now I have a project idea – in May we are going to Boston and NYC to visit friends, just a girls trip, so cool, and I will use the locator to find booths near where we are going to be, and we will take pics in ALL of them! I will make an album all about this, and I will be able to talk about the photobooths of my youth and how it’s such a shame that kids don’t get to do that any more. Why doesn’t someone bring them out again? They are so retro and fun, and kids seem to get such a kick out of PhotoBooth on the iMac…. maybe that’s a business for me. Anyway, thanks for sharing the link. Ali in NZ

  • 39.
    Leora said…

    Oh Ali! I love this layout. I have a weakness for photobooths too. My other half thinks they are a waste of money–like the claw machine, but I think they are charming and fun! Thanks for sharing.

  • 40.
    cher said…

    toooooooooo fun!

  • 41.
    Lynn Mercurio said…

    I too am a big fan of photobooths. They have such a fun appeal with a wonderful nostalgic feel. I’m in one every time I see one! Thanks for sharing these great photos and fun layout!

  • 42.
    Meghann said…

    Great layout, Ali! I love photobooths too!

  • 43.
    Susanne said…

    Love the story, love the layout!

  • 44.
    Melanie said…

    Loved this!

  • 45.
    Amybug said…

    so cool. love the bear!

  • 46.
    kelly purkey said…

    adore the photobooth pics and the layout, ali!!!
    i am excited to see you scrap more of portland :)

  • 47.
    christen said…

    my sister-in-law and i always take pictures of each other taking pictures on the 4th of july…i love having them. i also love any random shots i get from kids of myself or them taking pictures. i love photobooths too. my daughter had one at her wedding reception and all the guests had their pictures taken and put in the guestbook.

  • 48.
    Linda Joplin said…

    I LOVE photobooths too. I am now 53 years old, but when I was in 8th grade, my best friend and I put 25 cents in a photobooth. Then, the unexpected happened. The machine malfunctioned, and we got TONS of pictures taken for 25 cents! I bet we had 100 pics taken, and it’s one of my favorite memories from my youth!

  • 49.
    Stephanie said…

    I’ve been trying to get my son into a photobooth for ever. He has some “space” issues and typically panics when we would get in and close the curtain.
    Last week for the first time I FINALLY got him in without much fuss. I took one of the strips and framed it — and it is displayed on a low shelf in his room.
    He will randomly run in, pick it up and say “mommy, sazaa (his word for his name right now), box?”

  • 50.
    Artful Yogi said…

    Great layout. Thanks for sharing.

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