Bertie Booth a man who just wants us to have fun
PUBLISHED: 15:29 17 March 2014 | UPDATED: 15:29 17 March 2014
Pop-Up Photo Parlour 2013
Popping up at a party near you . . .
His clientele includes a billionaire living in the South of France, Claridges and Blenheim Palace, but ask John Alexander where he is happiest and he will point to home, an old Thames Lighter barge on the River Orwell at Pin Mill.
John has spent the last 14 years living on The Exuberance. No ordinary barge, it also acts as the headquarters of John’s thriving business, Pop-Up Photo Parlour.
“I had the good fortune to be sent to Orwell Park School, so the River Orwell has been the backdrop to a big chunk of my life,” he says. “The only other place I’ve lived which can compete with this view is New Zealand. So getting to live here once more, on this beautiful boat, running a fun and quirky business is such a joyful experience.”
The vista offered by John’s pride and joy clearly acts as inspiration for his business life. Promising “unadulterated fun”, Pop-up Photo Parlour offers handcrafted, themed photo sets and studio quality prints. John operates under the guise of Bertie Booth with his partner Betty.
For such a creative business, surely operating from a barge comes with its own restrictions? Apparently not. John’s partner Nicky Wilding paints most of the backdrops and makes props for the photo sets aboard The Exuberance.
“It’s interactive and fully immersive,” says John. “I love the fact it’s all so varied. One moment we’re working out how to make a huge cactus while simultaneously making a mermaid. Plus I really enjoy the theatrical element when we’re out on gigs.”
John is understandably proud of a business that boasts a customer list across the UK and Europe.
When gently pushed about their most memorable booking, John reveals a famous billionaire’s wedding at the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc in the South of France, an event so plush the family’s super-yacht was moored in the bay, guests arrived by speedboat and the florist from London needed three articulated lorries just to transport the fresh flowers. Pop-Up Photo Parlour was one of only two forms of entertainment booked. The other was pop star Jessie J.
“The majority of our work has been outside East Anglia. This year we’re focusing on getting bookings closer to home. From tiny village halls, muddy festival fields, special occasion parties to magnificent weddings, nothing is too large or too small!”