A special guest post by Seth Kallen Deitch curator of the Classic Photobooth Group on Facebook –

Emily and Myrtle, I’m not going to say that they *hated* one another, but they had a rivalry and *certainly* were not friends, but to use the word *hate*, well, that just wouldn’t be Christian.

What brought them into contact was the church events committee that they both were on. Christmas, Easter and patriotic pageants, Sunday school outings and church picnics, rummage sales, all of these were the things that drove their little world. One of the big ones was the October Fancy Dress Ball. Their congregation frowned on dressing as monsters, ghosts and other creatures of darkness, but they definitely were not against seasonal fun!

The Fancy Dress Ball was the big adult event of the year, there was a Halloween party for the kids, but the Ball had the bigger budget. The gimmick was that people were paired up to design *each other’s* costumes. In 1955 someone decided that Emily and Myrtle would be paired in this event. Of the two, we can now suppose that it was Myrtle who bore the greater malice. Emily made her the gown of a medieval lady. It was beautiful in every detail. The outfit that Myrtle made for Emily included a fancy hat that she had made around one of her parlor lampshades. Emily never even noticed until her son pointed it out in a photo ten years later.

A slightly damaged, unframed Photomatic photo circa 1950, USA

Dressed identically, these two young women may be sisters, they could even possibly be twins. They both have similar hair, cheekbones, mouths, noses, eyes and even dimples. It is only their chins that make me doubt that they are related. Sisters or not, what would make two adult women wear the same outfits? My theory would be that they are part of a festival or carnival. Their necklaces appear to be made of plastic, a very cheap material in any era. Could they be hostesses at an event and this is their uniform?

I love the way they have posed together with their heads touching, both gazing directly and openly at the camera. It is a happy and intimate portrait.

It is so exciting to go out to my letterbox to discover a photobooth gift from a friend. It happens quite frequently and cheers me up a lot. It also makes me feel more connected to the world, when I am stuck at home so often. This gorgeous image was a gift from my friend Ted Strutz.

 

The names we call the Devil are numerous. He may be referred to by monikers such as Lucifer, Satan, the Prince of Darkness or Beelzebub. My personal favourite is Mephistopheles.

Mephistopheles was originally a demon that featured in German folklore and in the literary legend of Doctor Faustus, where he was acting as the devil’s henchman. In the legend, Faust makes a deal with the devil for the price of his soul.

This very dapper gentleman is smooth and handsome enough for me to want to sit down with him for a chat, yet he has a touch of the devil in his look, don’t you think? Of course part of the satan’s cunning is his allure, yes? He certainly follows the TV villain/comic book trope of The Beard of Evil – a small, well-groomed follicular, facial flourish.

This two photo strip was another generous gift from Brian from Equinoxio blog. Thanks again, Brian!

North American Photographer Louie Despres (above) has a number of wonderful photo projects on his website, which you can find here. I particularly love The Believers, and Vanity I – Bathrooms, but of course my favourite just has to be Vanity II – Photobooths.

One of my earliest memories is having my picture taken in a photobooth with my brother and sister when I was probably 3 years old. I marveled at the machine which flashed 4 times as you sat there in front of a darkened screen, then the humming sound of the unseen mechanics working inside the box, and, finally, the magic of the wet strip of four pictures delivered in the silver slot on the side. Suddenly, there YOU were, in beautiful black and white.

Please take a look at Louie’s collection. In addition to his self-portraits, like me, Louie is a collector. At the moment he has a project where he is asking for submissions of photobooth strips from around the world. If you would like to contribute, you can contact Louie through his website or Facebook.

Below is the strip I sent to Louie.

In my previous post, I published a gift from Brian from Equinoxio, today’s photo was a gift from Shayne of Captured and Exposed blog. As I’ve said before, the generosity of the blogging community never ceases to amaze me. Thank you to Shayne, Brian, Ted and others for their kindness in finding and sending me wee treasures.

I’m probably just getting old but Bobby here, looks way too young to be in uniform, especially during wartime. His name is written in ink on the back of the photo and lightly in pencil, someone has added WW2. He is a sweet looking young man with those heavy lidded eyes and slightly crooked front teeth.

His expression is somewhat bemused, as though he barely knows how he ended up in uniform. He could easily be as young as 18. How do we, as a community, still allow children to make the life and death decision to go to war? Is it truly an informed decision if it is made before the consequences of which, could possibly be fully conceived? We now know that brains are not fully developed until the age of 25, yet we still send our young men and women into conflict zones at much younger ages. And then, at least as far as the UK, Australia and the US go, we don’t properly look after their needs on their return home.

Bobby has unleashed some powerful emotions for me. I do hope he returned home after his tour in one piece, both physically and emotionally.

This two image strip of photos was purchased for me as a gift from a marché aux puces, south of Paris. Brian of Equinoxio blog, very kindly sent me this, and several other portraits, in August last year. Three sets came from photobooths, some were small studio photos and some were from a Polyfoto studio.

I chose to share these first as the reflection in this gentleman’s very groovy glasses, is so pronounced you can see some of the details of the booth’s interior. I’ve never seen that before. The reflection is likely the instructions on how to operate the booth, but I’m guessing, for the details are indistinct.

I would say that these pics were taken in the 1960s as my dad used to wear very similar glasses and ties in that era. I’d like to think this man was a writer, solely because I think one of these photos would’ve made a fabulous author’s portrait for the dust jacket of a novel.

I love it when I find a familiar face in a photography book.

Sometime ago, my friend Ted sent me this gorgeous book on photobooth photography, by Babbette Hines. I immediately recognised the face on the page below, and therefore that the gentleman concerned was lurking in my collection somewhere . . .

And here he is, below, in all his glory. He exhibits all the marvellous variety of expression one would find in a Derek Zoolander calendar. His trademark “look” could be named Grey Nickel rather than Derek’s Blue Steel, perhaps?

His uniform could be that worn in many jobs but I’m thinking he is a security guard due to the lanyard around his neck, for an identity card and what appears to be the aerial for a walkie-talkie in his hand or pocket. That notebook would come in handy if that were his job, too.

As a security guard he might’ve worked in a mall and therefore, could also have been regularly in the vicinity of many photobooth machines. Seeing people having fun retrieving their photos, might’ve tempted him to grab a few snaps for himself, to relieve the tedium of the job. If Babbette Hines found some of this gent, and I found some more, I wonder how many other strips of his might be out there?

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