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Cover of the book, Les Matons

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On 19 June 1988 in a photobooth at a Barcelona railway station, ​​artists Hélène Fabre and Christian Bonifas made a series of souvenir photos without thinking further than the pleasure of the moment.

Once home in Nîmes, having been amused by their holiday mementos, they sought out another station hall booth. So began their long infatuation with automatic photography.
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After twenty-five years and more than 1500 portraits they still haunt these mini studios to capture their moods, movements and ideas.

Since 1989, under the pseudonym Les Matons they have exhibited these portraits as enlarged color photocopies.

In 2007, they published their first book, a self-titled paperback showcasing a selection of one hundred booth photographs in black & white and colour. (See cover and sample images from the book, above). With accompanying texts by Clotilde Augot, Rémy Leboissetier, Christine Rodes and Bertrand Guery and a song by Frederic Inigo, it is an ode to the Photomaton machine and the variety of creative uses to which it can be put.

Over 136 pages Hélène and Christian dress-up for, laugh, grimace, writhe and twist through fun and surprising poses that are delightfully entrancing. The artistic perspective of these two performers fills every frame.

In 2013, they released a new book, “Small Nature” which presents sixty-four new photobooth pictures. I will write more about Les Matons and show you some images from that book in a later post.

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This is another photobooth postcard from my collection but one published by Auto-Snaps which, to my knowledge, did not also own or operate any photobooths. I can find no reference to this publisher online and have never seen another postcard designed by them.

This young man’s name is Donald. An adult has filled in the address and message –

Having a nice time Auntie.

He has signed the card himself and added three kisses. (Please see the image below.)

Like the other postcards I have posted in this series of three, the message is written in pencil. Unlike the others, this one has been posted without an envelope. It was sent from the seaside resort town of Rhyl in Wales. It is dated June 1937. It is interesting that Rhyl is also the town where Cyril Astor had one of his booths in the 1940s through to the early 70s. I imagine it possible that this was one of his earliest booths. His offices were situated nearby.

To see the previous posts about photobooth postcards please click here and here.

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Here are three more examples of my Photomaton postcards.

The young lady in the booth photo is wearing fashionable clothes of the late 1920s or early 1930s. She wrote a message on the back, which reads –

Dear Beatie and George. We are having a fine time. Hoping all is well at home. With love from Mayme

The writing is in a childish hand, so the sitter may be a lot younger than she first appeared to me. I had thought late teens but she could possibly be as young as 13 or 14. Her name is difficult to decipher. It could also be read as Mayne. Neither that, nor my first guess are familiar female monikers, so maybe neither is correct.

Below is another example of an unused card. To see some other examples of this type of card please click here.

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I have a small collection of ephemera related to photobooths and these are some of my favourites.

Wherever a photobooth was situated, which was more often than not in seaside holiday towns, there were postcards and postcard vendors. The photomaton company came up with a way of capitalising on the booth’s popularity as a souvenir and the popularity of postcards by combining the two. They produced empty vignette cards with seaside and country themes which had gummed paper backing, into which one could insert a recently made photo from one of their booths.

The top card must have been delivered by hand or posted in an envelope. Written in pencil on the back is –

Just a little snap of me dear. Sorry my hair is so straight. But it’s not so bad is it? Love from Nancy x x

The second card is of the same design as the first. It is one of four I have, which were never used. Below is another example. They all have twee rhymes that are typical of the sentiments found on other types of greeting cards of the time. They all date from the late 1920s to early 1930s

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My one and only photobooth photo from Belgium is a corker! This young lady has a quirky sense of humour. I love her for that. I don’t think I have any other booth photos of anyone in bandages, let alone bandages that are so badly done. I suspect they are just a prop for the photo, but could be wrong. This pic looks even more fabulous enlarged, so please click the image to see it in all its glory.

I really wonder what the rest of the strip looked like and whether there are more mad strips of this girl floating around.

This is a standard sized booth pic that is undated.

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In the seventh part of this series, we have Donna on two different days with two friends. Each photo is dated 1972.

For those of you who remember, I named this series after one of the inscriptions on the back of one of the pics. For a long time I had it in my head that Lori was the blonde star of these photos. I decided to name this large group of pictures after her, despite my mistake. So, here at last and in the top three pictures, is the “Lori” of the title. Ted, one of my friends, will be pleased to finally see her!

In the second two photos, unfortunately faded, we have Donna and Mona (who we saw before in Part 4) and “Steve’s finger”, that being the cigar-shaped shadow at the bottom right of the second image. Not sure who Steve is, but he is obviously important enough to have his finger mentioned!

Donna is photographed with many boyfriends and girlfriends over a period of 4 years from 1969 to 1973 in this series of photobooth photos. It has been a long time since I started these posts, so if you’d like to review the previous photos, please click here.

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This photobooth pair look like a very happy couple. This gent has the broadest of broad smiles and a fashionable dress sense. With marcel waves in her hair and prominent front teeth, his young lady would not be considered a beauty, but the smile on his face suggests she has a spark that we, as distant observers, may not be able to see.

Without the benefit of modern orthodontic techniques, I too, would have this same problem with upper palate over-crowding. It is interesting to note that in a person deemed attractive, this dental phenomenon is termed an “overbite”. Those deemed less visually appealing, get the pejorative label of “buck teeth”. The correct dental term is, I believe, malocclusion.

There is a Pinterest board for sexy women with overbites, nearly all actresses who’ve long disappeared from our screens, Alan Alda’s character, Hawkeye, in the third season of the TV series M*A*S*H whistfully mentions Gene Tierney’s overbite as sexy but I doubt we will see anymore thespians with this appealing, characteristic given the universal propensity towards conformity through cosmetic dentistry.

This Germany booth pic is dated September 1935.

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