By Katie Wheeler • Photo Courtesy of Forget-Me-Not
Every picture tells a story. They are totems infused with significance and memory. Collective effervescence is a term for the group electricity that happens at a spiritual gathering. We all have to eat and sleep – survival on a basic biological level – but it is the celebrations, happenings beyond our everyday survival, that bring us together as a society and give meaning and inspiration to our lives. Rites of passage, festivals, fairs, birthdays, holidays, holy days. Focused together, in communion with spirit and consciousness. Most of us have stepped inside a photo booth at some time with friends, family, a first love: Those candid shots catching the fun, the light. Maybe you have that strip of pictures on your fridge. Chances are, if you have some recent ones, they came from an event that Forget-Me-Not Photo was at.
Kacy and her partner Sean bring their open air photo booths to any of those gatherings and parties. They also do announcement or save-the-date photos. “That’s the cool thing about our photo booths, they stand alone, so you can put them anywhere,” Kacy says. She shows me pictures from the Rebel Art Fair, where the booth is the back of a VW van. Then we look at a castle facade she made for the Medieval Festival of Courage in Blue Lake. Then some outdoor backgrounds.
“Sean and I are big kids, we love getting ideas from our clients and making it happen. We have our little generator which means we can do our photo booth anywhere, with any theme,” says Kacy. “Right now we are working on a paper moon. I also have this green screen that allows me to impose any image for the background.” Now we are looking at pictures of people on flying carpets over varying terrains. Then people on the moon. Now she is scrolling through the facades they have built; beautiful, hilarious, enchanting. They have worked gigs from Portland to San Francisco, and everywhere between.
Just like the old-style photo booth, you walk away with your pictures, although the quality of Forget-Me-Not photos are professional grade. Kacy prints a double strip that she cuts in half: One for the guests, one for the host. For weddings, she makes a book with the picture strips. The guests sign the page by their pictures as they go through with wishes, poems, memories and drawings. They can also print up flip books. After the event, she downloads all the pictures to her website. Then, with your password for the event, you can log on and print up any photos you want for free.
“People end up using the pictures for Christmas cards and thank you cards all the time,” Kacy says. “I can’t tell you how many times people have told me, ‘This is the best picture of us.’ It’s because there’s no photographer, no one posing you. Just you and the booth having fun. Nothing else at an event captures this, literally capturing a moment in time.”
Kacy started Forget-Me-Not Photo in August of 2008, the first photo booth event rental north of San Francisco and south of Portland. She has always loved pictures and crafting memories. In May of that year they attended her childhood friend’s wedding in Las Vegas. “I didn’t even think about the photo booth when I was there,” she says. “I just jumped in with everybody and had a great time.”
After they got home, she was excited to be able to go online to peruse all the pictures. That’s when inspiration hit. “There were these pictures of the two grandmas, the groom and the bride’s,” she says. “Anthony’s family is from a really old Navajo pueblo town in Northern New Mexico, his grandmother is like 4 foot 11, total classical Navajo grandma. She has the salt-and-pepper bun pulled straight back and the traditional Indian dress. Huge turquoise squash blossom and earrings – she could be straight out of a National Geographic photo piece. And then the bride’s grandmother is from Klamath and is a rancher, really tall, tight afro blonde perm. Super out in the elements weathered skin, tight Wrangler jeans and button up shirt – cowgirl. There were pictures of the grandmas together, with feather boas and tiaras, in the photo booth just looking at each other. To this day it is still the best photo strip I have ever seen.”
She was captured. She started obsessively Googling photo booths state by state. “Like ten states a night,” she says. “There were hardly any at that time. Then I found the Open Air Booths, out of Santa Barbara. My aunt had just died and all the nieces and nephews had gotten a few thousand dollars. There was my down payment, I didn’t hesitate, I just ordered it. That next morning I told Sean about it. He said that he thought I should do some research. I told him that the booth would be here Tuesday, we would need to pick it up at UPS.”
Now she has three booths. Kacy was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. At 20, she attended massage school in Santa Fe. During this time her dad, Ross, died. She spent the next three years traveling the world. When she came back, her mom, Lynn, had just moved. She was on her first traveling nurse assignment in Fortuna. Kacy also had a good friend living in Arcata, so she came to stay for a few months. She got a massage therapy job and never left. That was 2001.
A few years later she met local boy named Sean Knife. Born and raised in Eureka, his family goes back to homesteading McKinleyville and Crescent City. Kacy and Sean are the kind of people that raise a party up: Kind, fun to be around, both of them easy on the eyes. “That’s the thing that branches right off of massage,” Kacy says. “I pamper people. I take care of people, make sure they enjoy themselves. The best thing about my business is that we get to party with all kinds of people for some of the most amazing moments of their lives. You really get to see that everyone is the same. Everybody loves to cut loose and have a good time. And we all have our trials and struggles, but we are trying our best.”
“Prom, 8th grade graduation, safe and sober, Mitzvahs, the kids are my favorite,” Kacy says. “They know how to be goofy for real. They are just so open. I love that this is a small community; we get to watch people over time.” She shows me photo booth strips of a young couple the night they met, her pregnant, and then their wedding.
“Giving back to my community is very important,” she says. “We are doing the Sequoia Human Society fundraiser, the Raven queer prom, fundraisers for people that need money for surgeries, stuff like that.” Including Forget-Me-Not Photo at your event gives everyone a piece of the memory to take home. A totem of the shared energies, a keepsake.
Look them up: Forget-me-not-photobooth.com/wordpress.
Kacy Curtis 707-499-3256. In memory of Kevin Knife.