A Certain Rugged Charm

Flinders Street Station, December 1997

I found this large-format, single-shot photobooth photo at Melbourne’s, Victorian era, railway station at Flinders Street. I haven’t seen a machine with the option of choosing a large portrait photo in the city for a long time, probably since the day I found this in 1997.

I’d say this example of a booth photo is the epitome of why we call small id photos mugshots. With his unsmiling face, maple leaf ear tattoo, piercing deep blue eyes and furrowed brow it could easily have been a police identification photo. In fact a friend of mine had no trouble believing this was a picture of a wanted man. Personally, I think he has a certain rugged charm, despite his solemn demeanor.

So why was this image torn and discarded? If he was a Canadian, as suggested by the maple leaf, he may have wanted a picture to send home. A friendlier expression might have been more desirable for that purpose. Or did he really just want four identical shots for a passport or other id? He would not have been the first to have pressed the wrong button.

  1. Hc said:

    It’s interesting to read your interpretation. Personally I get the impression that the tattoo is a bad home-job a marijuana leaf, by the faded inky colour I’d say it’s probably from his late teens/early twenties. The intensity of his eye contact with the camera seems to suggest to me that the person the photo was intended for was of some emotional significance to him, like you said, perhaps a family member he had not seen for some time or a girlfriend.


    • Thanks for your detailed comment and interest in my blog Hc. I like the fact you think it is a marijuana leaf. It had not entered my mind that it could be one.


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