Florence Photo Booth Tour

My first visit to Florence, Italy, was in 2018. When I walked out of the train station a Fotoautomatica photo booth was one of the first things I saw. I went in, posed for four snaps of the camera and flash, and waited four minutes and thirty seconds for the print to go through the booth’s hidden darkroom.

I returned to Florence in July 2022, exploring the city and making art in response to it as part of “Citylab,” a study abroad course at Portland State University led and taught by Associate Professor M. Michelle Illuminato.

One assignment prompted us to identify a place we were curious about and lead a tour of it. I took a small group of classmates to a place that excited my curiosity and first connected me to the city: the photo booth by the train station.

My classmate Kelly Braich offered to take photos during the tour and a few days later I used them to share the story of the tour in an Instagram Story. Much like the process of designing a printed book of photos, I created the Story by reviewing lots and lots of pictures and selected the strongest, edited and sequenced them, and wrote descriptive captions. While a Story is considered more freeform than a Post, I wanted to extend its ephemerality by reproducing the documentation it formed without altering the original Story format. Which led me to publishing the Story as a handmade book! The first iteration was printed in an edition of three on the color copier, each page trimmed to size by hand and then post-bound. 

But the project was incomplete until each participant had their own copy of the book. Instead of making more copies by hand, I decided to self-publish a new edition of the book! The size is “just right” and the soft pink color on the spine and inside the book seem to delight readers. The book is available far and wide through Amazon. The original Instagram “Story” is saved in a Story Highlight.

Project by:
Laura Glazer

Farah Alkayed, Madeline Blackham, Kelly Braich, Raylee Heiden, and M. Michelle Illuminato

Florence, Italy