Brooklyn Artist Snaps Pics With Strangers in Photo Booths for DUMBO Exhibit

By Heather Holland on September 6, 2012 6:50am 

DUMBO — Normally, photo booths are reserved for friends and lovers.

But Brooklyn artist David Harth is looking to mug for the camera in booths around the city and the country with everyone he knows — and everyone he doesn’t.

Those photos, taken with friends and strangers, will go on display later this month as part of an exhibit placed on scaffolding in DUMBO.

For the project, Harth, 37, convinced his friends and the strangers he met to take a picture with him in various photo booths across the city, including the ones inside of HiFi Bar in Manhattan and Bubby’s in Brooklyn.

Since the beginning the project in February, he has collected nearly 400 photo strips.

“I decided that I’m going to take a photo with every person I know and every person I don’t know, and I’m going to do this for the rest of my life,” Harth explained. “When I looked on Facebook, I saw that people were taking photos, altering images, Instagram-ing, and that people had the ability to delete images.

"I wanted to do something old school.”

In one case, Harth contacted a Philadelphia man on Facebook who shared his first and last names. He didn’t know the man, but asked him if he was willing to meet up for dinner in the City of Brotherly Love and take a photo with him.

The man agreed, but then bizarrely asked if he could include a lobster in the photo.

“He really showed up to the diner with a Tupperware carrying a live lobster,” said Harth.

The artist said that while the experience of cozying up to a stranger for a picture might seem uncomfortable to some, he's had luck convincing people to join him.

“Most people ... get into the photo booth with me," he said. "It’s very rare that someone doesn’t."

To help his subjects relax, he strikes up a conversation, but he said the tight space also helps break the ice.

“I enjoy the brief conversation before taking the photos," he said, "and something about the small environment of a photo booth gets people to loosen up."

Harth is working with Art Bridge, an organization dedicated to bringing art to the public, to post enlarged versions of the photo strips on scaffolding along Water Street in DUMBO, between Main and Old Dock streets.

The exhibit, dubbed "Every Person I Know and Every Person I Don't Know," will be on display beginning Sept. 28.

Ryan Rodriguez, 32, of the East Village, snapped a photo with Harth recently at the HiFi Bar in the East Village.

“I think the thought was initially awkward. The act of sitting in the photo booth with a stranger or someone who is not a significant other in your life can be a bit embarrassing," he said.

“But it was a lot of fun. I had a ball. He’s a smooth talker, that Harth.”

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/EveryPersonProject.

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