Photographer Luksika “Pyn” Jiradarakul, 24, is stoking nostalgia for a retro phenomenon likely unfamiliar to much of Bangkok: the photo booth. The creator of an art project featuring an old-school Photoautomat, Pyn discussed her affinity for photography, bringing the booths to Bangkok, and where to find one.
Why photo booths?
When I was traveling in New York, I would see photo booths in a bunch of different places, like bars. They just oozed a classic, sort of romantic air, and I fell absolutely in love with them – so much so that I would spend my time hunting for as many of them as I could. When I came back to Thailand, I realized they didn’t exist here. As a film geek, I did everything I could to build up the culture.
What do photo booths offer that a selfie or digital photography, for example, don’t?
Even though I’m a photographer, I’ve never liked being photographed, or photographing myself. But photo booths give me the freedom to not give a damn about anything around me. No one knows what you’re doing behind the curtain, and there’s no one telling you what to pose. It’s all about creating memories and moments that you can look back on and cherish.
Most young people in Bangkok have barely seen a photo booth. Why did you think this would work?
People love to take photos in general. They’re like souvenirs for events that happen in your life – they’re a way of preserving memories. What I’m doing is providing people with a different way to engage with photography. I don’t think photo booths are an entirely new thing for Thai people, either, so it should be easy to forge a fresh connection with them.
Why do you think people are so into film photography right now?
A huge part of it is the time you have to wait to develop your photos. With digital photography, you’ll know how your shots will turn out right after you take them, and you can decide whether you want to keep them or not. The experience I have while waiting for my film to develop, and sharing the photos with my friends afterwards, is just more fun than that. It’s all trial and error. You get to experiment with so many types of films and cameras… and each roll of film does its own thing as a filter.
Do you think photo booths have staying power, or is this a passing trend?
I really want it to be more than just a trend that comes and goes, but rather a part of modern culture. I want them to stay forever, even if only two people are using it per hour.
How many do you hope to set up, and where are you trying to place them?
In the next month, we’re planning to set them up at Ari (The Apartment Store), Sukhumvit Soi 31 (FICS 31, a cafe for movie buffs owned by Nattawut “Baz” Poonpiriya, the director of Bad Genius), Siam Paragon, Emquartier, and Emporium, along with the ones we already have at WWA Cafe x Chooseless and Lido Connect. The booths in each place will all have their own individual design that matches with the setting. In the future, we’re planning to set them up at weddings and flea markets as well.