TOP50STL Business Idea of the Week: PHOTOG – the ‘selfie’ museum

So, the update this week is for a concept I’ve been working on for awhile and published on the site earlier this year. You can read additional details in the archives section of the site, but essentially what PHOTOG – the selfie museum is, is a photography museum concept. It’s a place that celebrates iconic photographs, historic magazine covers, memorable ads, famous albums, celebrated political artwork and unforgettable movie and tv scenes……all with a twist. The museum combines the magic of lighting, set and costume design to recreate famous photographs with YOU as the subject!

I envision the completed museum as a stand-alone building that houses about 50 exhibits. I’ve come up with a number of iconic scenes that I think would work well. I’d also love to take some of the most popular sets in pop culture and utilize them. Not long ago, Hulu signed a contract to syndicate Seinfeld and, for promotional reasons, they built out a reproduction of the Seinfeld set that was Jerry’s apartment. This is exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about! I’d love to see the sets of popular sitcoms recreated so fans of the shows could come in, experience the space and take pictures inside. What I’d also love to see is some of the iconic sets turned in to the operating businesses they represented. So, imagine yourself having a drink at the iconic bar from Cheers; or enjoying a cup of coffee at Central Perk with your own group of “Friends?”

I take inspiration from a place like City Museum, which has become a truly special place unique to St. Louis. I envision the final museum as a place that charges an entrance fee which allows patrons free reign to take “selfies” inside each exhibit. There could be “selfie” sticks available to rent. We may need ushers to help shepherd crowds through the exhibits who could also provide a nice dual role as amateur photographers. Professional photographers could have the option to pay a studio fee in order to complete professional photo shoots and the space itself could be available for rent for special events. I see departments, or possibly third party vendors, that specialize in photography and graphic design; a salon specializing in hair and makeup as well as costume rental and set design.

Some great collaborators could be Johnnie Brock’s Dungeon, the Saint Louis Camera Club and Laclede’s Landing Wax Museum. I’d also like to include the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum which is here in Saint Louis! Not many people know about this great international institution that calls St. Louis its home so one of my ideas is to join forces with the Hall of Fame in order to provide a little sizzle to their operation.

In order to get this project off the ground, I’ve collaborated with some folks already. Logistically, it makes sense to offer the exhibits one at a time, possibly at the existing Hall of Fame. I also reached out to the Magic House, another great space in St Louis. I have a family connection to the President, Beth Fitzgerald who was intrigued by the idea. The best connection I’ve made while pursuing this idea is with a man named Bruce Seymour. Bruce has actually developed a technology that lines up perfectly with my concept. Bruce has a green screen technology that allows you to take a picture of yourself or others in front of a green screen or green wall and when you email that picture to a special email address, it is returned with a new background. It’s almost as if you’re magically placed inside of an iconic photograph. It’s brilliant! It’s interesting because I saw this technology at the MO History Museum where Bruce has a green wall set up. I took a picture of my son and he was magically placed into a historical photo and just weeks afterwards, I was introduced to Bruce.

The great part about meeting Bruce is that now we are collaborating to see if we can grow his business concept bigger than it already is, because it’s pretty well known in St Louis. We thought about combining our concepts and building the PHOTOG museum one booth at a time. I’d love to build a new booth every month for a year (or maybe we should stay with the top50 theme and build one every week for a year).

So, Bruce’s technology is already on display at the MO History Museum. I know he’s interested in setting up more booths with charitable foundations and places like that so I’ll be sure to connect him with Kelly Quinn at Best Buddies. Bruce also just launched a display in the East terminal at Lambert Airport where Southwest Airlines just announced they are expanding. So, please keep a lookout for that display if you are in the baggage claim area. You might just see a picture of me or a member of my much better looking family.

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