Photobooth Time Machines


Part of my fascination with photobooth photos is that they are one of very few types of informal photography that consistently isolates the image almost exclusively to the sitter’s head and shoulders. Therefore any changes to the person that have happened over time are immediately apparent. The images condense these changes over a period of months, years or decades and each set becomes a personal time machine. Sometimes the changes, from one shot to another, are minute or only apparent in changing modes of clothing, hair and occasionally, make-up.  In other sequences of photos, the jump from one image to the next could be twenty years or more, showing the ravages of time or the subtly developing features of experience and maturity, depending on your perspective.

The category Photobooth Images 1973 to Present is my time machine. For everyone else, I have a new category showcasing small progressions of change over time, of friends, family and other unidentified people from my vintage collection as they grow, develop and evolve.

3 comments
  1. Very nice blog you have running here! I’m loving it! I saw your comment on my photobooth project on photobooth.net thanks for the comment and compliment! The blurb book came out ok, but i’m still waiting for someone to publish my book and go to a pro printer with it! Let’s hope so

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  2. This time-machine series made me think of those videos you can find on the internet that are montages of people who have taken pictures of themselves daily. It strikes me that photo-booths relics give you much more of that time-machine effect.

    I don’t think it’s just that there is something intrinsically retro in them, but more the fact that its inescapable ridiculousness (I mean, come on: you are sitting in front of a camera in a box behind a curtain!) captures a little genuine joy that a normal photographic self-portrait (most of the time shot out of boredom) can never reproduce.

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    • Thanks for your comment, Dr Paprika. I agree with the fact that being in a box, behind a curtain has given some people the license to be ridiculous for decades. Using the booths in the digital age still has this appeal, despite the trend for “selfies” from a mobile device. One can do so much more with two hands free for a start! And there is nothing quite like the feeling that you are in your own little world, unobserved and free.

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