A Sailor and his Lady – 1940s Photomatics

These photomatic photobooth images are from the USA. Though undated, they appear to be from the WW2 era. They were probably taken in the same machine around the same time, possibly even within the same hour, as the visual evidence in hair and clothes might tell us, but also as the cardboard backing that supports the photo is, unusually, upside down on all the images.

I suspect that the first two photos were taken while the lady stood beside her man. You can just see a part of what appears to be an arm in the second pic that has the same tone and texture of the suit she is wearing in the subsequent images. They then pull over the second, darker curtain and in jumps his lady for the next series of flashes.

When searching for photobooth gems to add to my collection I always keep an eye out for any series of pictures that shows the same person in different poses or at different stages of their lives. Even if it is imagined, there is more of a story to be seen when a face is viewed in different modes. There is a tentativeness about their togetherness that I find endearing. Maybe they had just met. Maybe they were not demonstrative types. Given the era of these photos I am musing on the fate of these anonymous faces. Military service at any time is fraught with danger and uncertainty. Did this young man survive the war? If yes, did their relationship survive it?

The red spots you can see on the last image are the remains of a red elastic band, which, luckily didn’t touch much of the surface of the photo. The back of one of the other items is covered in solidified rubbery goo. I like finding these little pieces of evidence that at one point they were carefully stored together and therefore loved by someone, before being flung out into the world and an uncertain fate.

  1. ehpem said:

    The woman’s face is very interesting to look at between the different images. In some she seems much older than him, in others about the same age. A good example of how one of these pictures could, in isolation, give the wrong impressions. As a group we get a better idea. Though, I default to thinking she might be quite a bit older than him, probably because of the ones that are less flattering in that regard are the ones I noticed first (first impressions do seem to stick, don’t they?). Nice series of photos!


    • Yes, I do love to have more than one image of a person especially if they extend over a long period. ANd I do agree that she looks older than he. Thanks again Mr E. I am hoping to catch up on all your new posts soon.


  2. Interesting set of photos. What is the white thing behind his head on two pictures? He wouldn’t be wearing a hat, would he? It’s not on the other pictures, though there is a touch of white behind the lady’s head on one. She has coerced him into getting the pictures taken in the photo booth and he’s embarrassed in the first, settled down, switched her from ne knee to the other, and by the end has relaxed into the situation. It’s a nice series.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Tony
      Yes, I think he is wearing a sailors cap, though it isn’t firmly placed on his head! I love your interpretation of the sequence. She does indeed appear to be sitting on his lap. I hadn’t thought of that.

      I’m a bit aghast at WP! I only recently fixed the typos and paragraph breaks but none of them have been saved. I’m sure I saved it after the changes . . .

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Actually on the first two pictures, looking carefully, you can just see a circle behind his head. You’re right it must be a cap. Maybe he took it off for the last picture.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love the way you write! I’m in a bit of a funk at the moment, not feeling very motivated to blog. Your posts always make me smile. I know you’re taking a timeout, so I just want to say thank you! xx


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