Two hundred flashes were popping off, thundering through a dimly lit Williamsburg warehouse.
The faces of pouting party girls lit up like they were hit by strobes.Waving around a bathtub-sized toy 35mm, a bearded kid did a jig; a tall redhead snapped him with a Polaroid.
Even in the world of Williamsburg parties, where every night is like a red-carpet event with revelers having their photo snapped by any number of roving nightlife photographers, this was out of control.Welcome to the third annual PHTHRD photo competition—a bid to set a world record for the most-photographed party of all time. Some big guns of the nightlife photo circuit had made the scene. Drivenbyboredom.com’s laid-back shutterbug Nate “Igor” Smith—a red baseball cap cocked to the side of his head—was looking for a fast track to glory. Eyeing nickydigital.com’s Nicky Digital (pictured), his highly celebrated, mustachioed competition, the upstart proposed a Western-styled shootout: “So, you want to do ten paces?” Digital just gave him a placid look and shot back quietly, “I’m into a more unified vibe.”Then he went to work maneuvering partiers into frame with silly faces and polished gestures. Frustrated at how many cameras were around, Digital turned to me and sighed. He said, “This is what I imagine LA to be. I’m used to being more of a fly on the wall.” A guy with a crew cut, glasses, white shirt and black knit tie was snapping with a small digital camera. He admitted he looked like a Japanese tourist, a group well known for rampant photo use. As for what he had shot that night he said, “A bunch of girls, but they all look like American Apparel models, it’s infuriating.”
I asked Mary Dummier, who was holding her camera in my face, if all this wasn’t a bit removed. She said happily,“It’s not taking you out of the moment. It is the moment!” Doug Jaeger, the brain behind the party, was wearing a blond wig and cradling two cameras. “People have a real need to create mementos from what we experience,” he said dryly. Yeah, well isn’t this going overboard?
(When all was said and done, 3,629 photos were snapped that night.) He looked at me from behind tinted aviator glasses and shrugged. “I guess that’s the experiment.”