Visa Photo 1989
March 1989, London
This photo was taken in a photobooth in a camping goods store near Covent Garden Market in 1989, just prior to my departure from London for a 6 month trip to South America. As the guide book had recommended having several strips of passport sized photographs ready for each border crossing and visa extensions (if needed), I sat in the booth for 5 successive strips, all very much alike but with this po-faced expression getting sourer each time. The booth was an incredibly busy one. I had to wait for two other sitters to get their pics taken before it was my turn. I remember feeling quite annoyed by a pair of Australian girls who were next in the queue. They were loudly taking the mickey out of me for taking so many photos of myself at one go. My expressions reflected my growing irritation.
This is only one of two that I have left from the trip. As predicted, I needed many of the photos for my travels and I traded many with other travellers. I hope the recipients do not remember me in quite the way the I am depicted in the photos.
I bought this page from an old photo album on Ebay recently. The seller’s description was none too flattering to the subject, which was what attracted me to look at the listing in the first instance. From notes on the back of the page (which has two dilapidated box brownie snaps still attached), I know this lady’s name is Esther, she had a sister or friend called Ethel and that these photos were taken around 1936, possibly in West Michigan USA.
I love Esther. She may not be a classical beauty but she has style, poise and a serene dignity that I find very appealing. She obviously had a thing for photobooths, another reason to admire her!
Mandrake the Magician
Mandrake the Magician (Detail)
This edition of the comic strip Mandrake the Magician appeared in the Australian Women’s Weekly, Wednesday 2 June 1971. Yes, photobooths really are magic!
Travel Card 1988
January 1988, London
Having left Australia with an idea that I would be away for no more than 6 months, I was as surprised as anyone to find myself a London resident 12 months on. I had been encouraged by other ex-pat residents at Driscoll House to look for some work to subsidise my travels. I found an advertisement for a part-time job at a new craft gallery in Covent Garden, applied, was offered and accepted full-time work as a gallery assistant and ended up managing the retail space within 6 months. I looked at one advertisement, made one phone call, had one interview and secured a job in one day. I stayed for 2 years and 2 months. The Endell Street Place was a craft shop, gallery and studio complex in Endell Street, Covent Garden. The centre showcased the best of British craft while offering the opportunity to see the artist/craftspeople making the work on site. I met my future travelling companion Helen White, while working there.
After my month in Elephant and Castle I moved further south to West Norwood where I was a boarder, initially with three other Australians and one Brazilian. I developed a very close bond with my hosts the Holbrook family and remain friends with them to this day. Since meeting them in Feburuary 1987, I have never stayed anywhere else on all my many subsequent trips to London. They have very kindly given me numerous photobooth pictures of themselves, that I will post on this blog, at some time in the future.
The photo above was taken at a booth at South Kensington tube station. At this time I was still only taking booth photos for a specific purpose. This photo was used in the id, which replaced the, temporarily, mislaid one from January 1987. This is the first of the photographs posted on this blog, to show me wearing clothes that are neither home-made, second-hand or borrowed!
Elephant and Castle Tube Station
- Travel Card 1987
January 1987, London
After finishing university I worked for two years at The Craft Centre Gallery in Toorak Road South Yarra. I was able to save enough money for what I envisaged would be a 6 month tour of Europe. I left Australia on the 7th of January 1987 and headed to London where I initially found myself accommodation at the eccentric Driscoll House Hotel in Elephant and Castle, just south of the Thames. I stayed there for one month whilst exploring the major tourist attractions the city had to offer.
Mr Driscoll gave a lunchtime speech every Sunday which other young residents encouraged me to attend for the novelty value. From memory he most often spoke of issues of politics and morality and never failed to relate all and every topic back to his experiences in WWII. It was a multi-level boarding house of single occupancy, private rooms plus many communal recreation rooms. Most rec-rooms contained a television. Every one contained at least one piano and some held up to three. There were one or two residents who had moved there after losing their homes during the Blitz of 1940/41 and never left. Each floor was designated male of female. There were no mixed gender floors and visits to the room of a member of the opposite sex were discouraged if not outright banned. We were reminded of the house rules, of which there were many, at each of Mr Driscoll’s Sunday lunch talks.
This booth pic was taken at the Elephant and Castle tube station. At that time every tube station had its own colour photobooth. I am wearing a hand me-down-coat from my mother. For a UK winter it was woefully inadequate, perhaps accounting for the frozen look on my face?
Hand Tinted Vintage Booth Photo
I have just added a link to the most wonderful resource available online for those others in the world who love the old chemical photobooths. At the site you will find information about everything you could imagine related to the photobooth – art, books, music, events, projects etc. Brian Meacham and his friend Tim Garrett, co-founded this appreciation site photobooth.net in the USA.
No matter where you are in the world, if you are looking for a photobooth in your area, this is where to look to find a location. If you know of any booths near you that are not listed, you can let them know.
Please visit photobooth.net. The link is on your right, under the title “Photobooth Resources”.
Youth Hostel Association Identity Card
Rejected for Identity Card
January 1981, Melbourne
The above pictures were taken for a Youth Hostel Association membership card. I took out my first (and possibly, only?) membership of the organisation just before taking a trip by train to South Australia, with a school friend in January 1981. I had turned 18 on the 22nd of December 1980. We camped and stayed with family friends. It was my third great travel adventure and my second without parental supervision.
Much thanks to my university friend Karin Bieg for help in confirming the date of these photos.
Year 12 Exam Time
30 October 1980
October 1980, Melbourne
My last year of secondary school at Loreto Mandeville Hall, Toorak, a Catholic girls school. I was very happy there, extremely innocent and very excited about starting at university. Prior to the exams I had been accepted into a Ceramic Design Degree at Monash University, Caulfield.
I suspect this was also taken at Chadstone but cannot be sure. Note op-shop jummy. My other great obsession after photobooth photos, second-hand bargain shopping, also started young.
Summer 1973, Melbourne
This is the earliest photobooth portrait that I still have. It was also the very first. It was taken at Melbourne’s famous shopping centre Chadstone. I was with a friend who kept three of the four photos. I cannot remember who it was. Possibly my neighbour in East Bentleigh, Helen Lloyd? Whenever I visited “Chaddy” with my Mum or Dad I would ask if I could get a strip of photos taken. They always answered in the negative. It wasn’t until I was there as an independent shopper that I managed to get my first fix behind the curtain. From the perspective of someone receiving five cents per week pocket money, I remember thinking that the photos cost a fortune. I think they cost eighty cents for a strip. I paid whatever my share was, in order to be allowed to keep this photo. I didn’t like it at all at the time but kept it none-the-less. I tie-dyed the t-shirt I am wearing in a craft class at school. I was in grade five.
This blog will be a record of my photobooth collection starting in 1973 with a single black and white image of me. I have been collecting booth and id-photos in ernest, since a trip to South America in 1989. I often traded photobooth and other small portrait photos with other travellers. The South American Handbook (or was it the Lonely Planet? – I had both) recommended travelling with numerous copies of id-photos for visa use and border crossings, so most people were well stocked and willing to swap.