Perhaps you've noticed the stealthy influx of retro photo booths in Stumptown's finer boîtes. First it seemed the only booths were at the Matador and Ace Hotel, but soon they appeared at Holocene and Ground Kontrol. Now East End's got one and (for those who prefer the company of tots to toddies) so does Finnegan's Toys and Gifts. It's not the rain that's making 'em sprout up everywhere—it's the efforts of photo booth fanatic Evelyn Weston. Evelyn spent 10 years in Chicago, studying printmaking and bookbinding at the Art Institute while working and playing in bars, where photo booths were as common as relish on hot dogs. When Weston moved back to Portland, she missed them sorely. She was dreaming up a business plan to install and manage photo booths locally when she serendipitously met Bill Wick, the manager of Seattle's Photobooth Services, in the elevator of the Ace Hotel. Moved by Weston's obvious passion for photo booths, Wick all but hired her on the spot. Now Evelyn's an amateur electrician with a company truck and several vintage photo booths in her garage, and is probably the only person on the bar scene who regularly rocks a headlamp. It's a labor of love for her to ensure the machines run smoothly, while scouting out new homes for her babies (here's lookin' at you MFP, Embers, and Alibi!). Check out myspace.com/photoboothpdx to keep abreast of photo booth locations and events, including a photo booth photo contest.
What sorts of things go wrong with the machines?
The machines are old so they tend to break a lot or function marginally. Everything has to be perfectly aligned or the pictures end up somewhere inside the machine, or not getting developed, or all crumpled up. I've probably spent 50 to 60 hours on the machine at Ground Kontrol, just bending small metal parts. Also, the flash units can go out, which are probably the most sophisticated electronic parts in the machine.
Have you found all sorts of scandalous photos trapped inside?
No. Most of the time when they're trapped inside, they're undeveloped, so when I open the door they get exposed. But once when I was working a very fancy wedding someone left a photo of his butt in the booth.
Are there unique poses you recommend people try?
I recommend people wear costumes. And wigs. I would really like to see people doing art photos in the photo booth: weird still lifes, stuff with puppets.
Does the job allow you time to pursue your art?
No. I'm crocheting a cozy for the ATM at the Ace Hotel and I'm months behind schedule. But I do have a band called "Mr. Frederick." I play bass and electric saw.