Above is teenage Jim Grey. Jim is from Down the Road, though not literally. That is the name of his blog where he writes about photography, cameras old and new, where he shares links to blog posts he has enjoyed in the previous week, and where he shares stories about his travels locally and around the world.
Some time ago he sent me scans of some photobooth images from a 1984 trip to Germany, and some other booth photos which he found when pulling out the first ones. It has taken me a lot longer than I intended, to share the scans with you.
So above is Jim in Germany. I think he looks like a young Clark Kent about to use the photobooth for his quick change into Superman. Yes, Superman does that! Well that is what he did in the Christopher Reeve movie of 1978. Besides, Jim just has to be Super as he likes photobooths, plus he went to the trouble of scanning his collection to send to me. Thanks Jim!
I will use Jim’s annotations to explain each strip.
Above – “Color shots of me in a photobooth in Krefeld, Germany, 20 July 1984 (I wrote the date on the back!) I had cut this strip apart, unfortunately, so I laid them on my scanner in order.”
I love the faces that Jim pulled, whilst keeping his shoulders and torso in virtually the same position throughout. These would make a great Gif! Below is Clark Kent/Superman in a booth.
The Superman strip is a mock-up that is sold by Yourprops.com. I presume the copyright belongs to them. Thanks Yourprops!!
Above – “More shots of me in another photobooth in Krefeld, Germany, also on the 20 July 1984. I held up a card and on the prints wrote “POLIZEI 503314 KREFELD” because I was trying for mug shots for a project I was doing. 503314 was the phone number of the family I was living with that summer. The last shot was of me wondering why the machine hadn’t taken the last shot yet.”
The deadly serious, authentic mugshot expressions in all these photos, are very cool. They are so serious that they have an unintentional comic edge to them.
Above – “I was with some friends (Jim Ziegler and John Lodder) in Michigan City, Indiana, in the spring of 1985. We came upon a photobooth in a shopping mall. I think it cost a dollar. I had put in a maybe fifty cents when it started making images. Someone before me must have put in the rest of the dollar. That’s why this strip is what it is.”
And this is, so far, my favourite strip for the spontaneous, chaotic nature of each image. Jim has a very clear memory of how the chaos came about. It must have been a memorable day, with or without the photos.
Above – ” Same place, same date, same people” as the previous photo strip. “This time my buddies and I were ready. I’m generally the one in the middle. John is the other bespectacled fellow. The other Jim is the one with no glasses.”
Unlike most modern, digital booths, you just never knew when the photos would be taken. Strange expressions, poor focus and lighting anomalies would abound, especially when three teenagers were let lose in one. I particularly like the third photo in this strip.
And finally the polaroid, above. ” Right next to the traditional photobooth was a booth that took single Polaroid photographs for a dollar. So Jim, John, and I went in and hammed it up one more time. I have to say, this is the sharpest Polaroid photograph I’ve ever held in my hands.” I agree with Jim, and as a booth photo, it is very rare. As he says, the photo is sharp but also has a strong colour palette after all these years. It seems that this photo was meant for Jim to keep, as he certainly is the cheesy-grinned, star of the piece, as he is in most of this collection.
Superman collecting his photos. I wish $0.75 photo booths still existed!