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Selling Polaroid Portraits in the Bars of Amsterdam, 1979-80
The Red Light District
Marc H Miller & Bettie Ringma
Even artists on an idyll in Europe have to make money. Bettie and I found a lucrative gig selling instant photo portraits in the bars and clubs of Amsterdam. Every night we headed out for 4 or 5 hours seeking customers in Amsterdam's entertainment districts. Although at first we were not sure we would succeed, in retrospect I can see our success was virtually assured. Dutch art history is full of portraits done in bars and taverns, but apparently we were the first to update this tradition with instant photographs. Our Polaroid camera was a money machine fueled by alcohol; each photo sold for 6 guilders (approx. $3) and we usually took more than 50 pictures a night. We were soon a fixture of the city's nightlife with many regular customers eager to get new pictures whenever we happened to cross their path.