Edmonton

Meet Mintzi, the VW van-turned-photo booth

There is more to Linea Whitelaw’s vintage Volkswagen than meets the eye. 

'It's not easy to drive but it's really fun'

Linea Whitelaw is the founder of Go Slow Photos, a mobile photo booth service. (Tara McCarthy/CBC)

There is more to Linea Whitelaw's vintage Volkswagen than meets the eye. 

Open the sliding doors of the mint green pop-top camper from 1978, and you'll find a fully-functioning photo booth.

A professional-grade digital camera is wedged behind the front seat. 

"You sit on the backseat and we have a photo booth mechanism in the front," Whitelaw said on Friday as she and her corgi runt named Camper scrambled inside. 

"And in the trunk, we have the printer so you just walk around and print them out." 

Whitelaw and her rig-for-hire hit the road for weddings and other special events across Alberta.

For a nightly rental fee, she offers guests a chance to capture candid snapshots printed out in strips of four.

Whitelaw got the photo booth rolling in late June and business is beginning to pick up, she said. 

The van has customers keen to mug for the camera.

"As a business, it's great," she said. 

"You get people waving at you and giving you peace signs all the time. It's not easy to drive but it's really fun." 

You just smush all the parts together to make a good one.- Linea Whitelaw

The business is part of a growing trend. Photo booths have become a new, trendy staple at weddings and anniversaries, but very few come on wheels. 

Whitelaw loves being mobile but admits that she has to charge a little extra for mileage on those long trips because the van is not so great on gas.

The van, named Mintzi, has been fully restored with a Frankenstein of vintage parts.

"We've had to replace a couple of things," she said. "We have a couple of different buses, all from the 1970s and you just smush all the parts together to make a good one. 

"There are a couple parts that are new but we tried to keep it as old school and as original as possible." 

The van, once a fully-functional camper, has been retrofitted as a rig-for-hire. (Tara McCarthy/CBC)

Whitelaw, the founder of Edmonton-based Go Slow Photos, said she grew up around vintage Volkswagens. After finding one in decent working order, she decided to build a business around it. 

"I want to take credit for it, why we have so many, but my dad has always been into cars. He has 10 race cars and fixes them up with his buddies," Whitelaw said. 

"The van was already running when we got it so we just ran with it." 

'Cherish the moment' 

The idea for the name of her business came from her travels in Belize. Last year, she visited Caye Caulker, also known as "go slow" island. 

"And their whole motto is go slow, the whole island, you don't walk fast. You just cherish the moment and I always loved that," she said.  

"I was trying to think of names and what kind of message I wanted to bring with the bus and to me, it's like, you're not going anywhere fast in this bus and you kind of just enjoy that."

With files from Tara McCarthy

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