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The Flinders Street photobooth where I have taken hundreds of photos over the last thirty years, the photobooth that I look forward to using everytime I need to be in Melbourne, the photobooth where I have had so much fun, the photobooth that looked like I’d never see again, (yeah, that booth) has been saved!

YAY!!!

I took 23 strips to celebrate. I look forward to sharing some of them with you soon.

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“Your lips touching mine in the photobooth.” A photo from my collection dating from the mid 1990s

My friend artist/musician Ted Giffin, who you might recall from this post and also from this one, recently published on his blog ‘Photobooth’ for Katherine. In the post he does a video cover of a Death Cab For Cutie song called Photobooth. Do pop on over and have a listen.  A big thank you to Ted!

Photobooth

I remember when the days were long
And the nights when the living room was on the lawn
Constant quarreling, the childish fits, and our clothes in a pile on the ottoman
All the slander and double-speak
Were only foolish attempts to show you did not mean
Anything but the blatant proof was your lips touching mine in the photobooth

And as the summer’s ending
The cool air will push your hard heart away
You were so condescending
And this is all that’s left
Scraping paper to document
I’ve packed a change of clothes and it’s time to move on

Cup your mouth to compress the sound
Skinny dipping with the kids from a nearby town
And everything that I said was true
As the flashes blinded us in the photobooth
Well, I lost track, and then those words were said
You took the wheel and you steered us into my bed
Soon we woke and I walked you home
And it was pretty clear that it was hardly love

And as the summer’s ending
The cool air will push your hard heart away
You were so condescending
And this is all that’s left
Scraping paper to document
I’ve packed a change of clothes and it’s time to move on

And as the summer’s ending
The cool air will push your hard heart away
You were so condescending
As the alcohol drained the days . . .

Ben Gibbard, Forbidden Love EP, Copyright 2000

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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.

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The Superman strip is a mock-up that is sold by Yourprops.com. I presume the copyright belongs to them. Thanks Yourprops!!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Superman collecting his photos. I wish $0.75 photo booths still existed!

 

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From Germany. 1930s.

This gentleman has a touch of Oscar Wilde’s sartorial elegance. (See photo, below). The shirt he is wearing has a light grid pattern, possibly created by stitching on the fabric. His hat, hand-knotted bow-tie, stiff white shirt-collar and the velvet detail of his coat collar, speak of a man very aware of the image he wanted to project to the world. Like the photo in a previous post of a German gentleman of this era, he understands how to pose to convey style and class. The deep shadow cast by the brim of his hat gives him an air of gravitas and mystery. I think he is a thespian, so confident and calculated is his demeanour.

This photo is superb, as I look at it now. The tones are rich and defined. They are uninterrupted by the light flares and vertical lines you can see here.

I cannot tell you how disappointed I was to see the scan. I feel I need to apologise for the poor quality. I tried the photo on different resolutions, manually adjusted tint and brightness. I tried doing it sideways and upside-down in case there was a textured nap in the paper. I cleaned the photo with a soft cloth and delicate touch. I cleaned the scanner bed. Nothing helped. I also scanned another photo from 1930s Germany at the same time, with very good results.

Usually, when scanning photos of this era the resolution is astonishing, even when enlarged to two or three times the original size. But not for this photo and I cannot work out why. Perhaps it is just another secret of this man of mystery.

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Oscar Wilde by Napoleon Sarony

While I have been bemoaning the probable loss of a photobooth, my friend Ted has found one for me. In the strip he appears with his granddaughter Ula Grace.

Thanks for the pics Ted, and for all the friendship and the support you give me. X X

TedBook's DAILY PICS...

img_8902 Guest Photographer: Ula Grace

Always on the lookout for a Photo Booth and found one at Pacific Place in Seattle.  Had to get a strip for my friend Katherine Griffiths, Downunder in Oz, who is obsessed with Photobooths and writes a delightful blog about her finds.  Do pay a visit to…  Photobooth Journal

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Merry Christmas, Katie!

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Above is the photobooth where the majority of my recent booth pics have been taken. I take multiple strips each time I visit, as due to my health, I am never sure when I will be able to make it there again. It is a place for me to be creative, a place where I love to play.

In 2011 Lindy Percival of The Age newspaper wrote a piece about this booth and the owner Alan Adler. In the article, Alan could not see a bright future for his business. The photographic paper was getting harder to source and he was scaling things back due to his advancing years.

For some years after the article was published, every time I’d go to the centre of Melbourne, I would hold my breath as I turned into Flinders Street. Will the booth still be there, I’d wonder? At one point, I had a gut wrenching moment when the booth was not in its usual position. That was quickly over, as a photobooth-enthusiast ticket inspector directed me to the new location. Gradually I forgot about the probably looming disappearance of this and Alan’s other booth in Chapel Street, South Yarra.

Most of my excursions to town are as a result of appointments to see specialist doctors. Having an appointment on Monday, Saturday saw me thinking about what props I might take with me for the trip to the booth and how I might use those props. Later that day, I received a comment on this blog that the booth was going to be removed on Sunday. Noooooooo!!!!!!

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I googled the information to see if I could find any news reports about the booth’s imminent demise. Nothing. I tried Facebook and other social media. Nothing. How could I find out if the story was true? I messaged people who would be in the know. Nothing. Then I received confirmation that a friend’s daughter had also heard about the removal. There was nothing for it. I needed to get into the city pronto. There was no way I was well enough to make the trip there and back twice in two days, so I leaped onto Trivago in the hope that I could find a cheap hotel in which to spend Sunday night. Nothing I could afford came up, so thwarted in that plan, I decided to just hope for the best that it might still be in situ on Monday morning.

And lo and behold, when I turned into Flinders Street, there it still was, in all its dishevelled glory! My heart leapt, as subsequently did my collection of booth strips.

And yet the plot thickens. While waiting for my final strip to emerge, I was taken by a very elegant and superbly rendered tattoo of David Bowie on the calf of a young woman. As it turned out, she was waiting for a friend near the booth. I mentioned my last post on this blog about Marco Ferrari and his tattoo photos, as I thought it might interest her. As we chatted I mentioned the removal rumour. She knew all about it! Yes, the booth had been scheduled for removal on Sunday. Apparently it is not the shortage of paper or the looming retirement of the owner that were at issue. It is the station management that want the booth removed. I say “damn your eyes”* to those anonymous corporate destroyers of a much loved Melbourne icon!

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My new companion knew even more. Apparently the booth has had a temporary reprieve until the end of this month. There is also a campaign to lobby for a permanent stay of execution. Unfortunately, it was a hot afternoon, I felt woeful and I was fretting about leaving the city before peak hour, so I forgot to ask who was organising the campaign and if there was anything I could do to help. Duh, double duh! I am a failure as a knight in shining armour for my beloved booth!!

Now, I am hoping that this post might be seen by the elegantly tattooed bearer of the news. I gave her my card, (Yes, I have a card for this blog. I’m obsessed, remember?) and she said she would check it out. Any comments from anyone who knows more about the Save Our Flinders Street Photobooth Campaign would be very, very welcome.

*A favourite quote from Young Frankenstein. God bless Marty Feldman, Peter Boyle and Gene Wilder.

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The model in this print is Rebecca Vincent.

Last year, through setting up an Instagram account, I discovered the work of Italian photobooth artist Marco Ferrari. In addition to my fondness for photobooths, I have a fondness for tattoo art*, so finding Marco’s work was very exciting. After madly “hearting” the many examples of his work I found there, I was thrilled to discover that he had items for sale.

Above is a scan of one of his 8 X 10 prints from his, as yet unfinished, art project Inked. This series of portraits of people with elaborate and beautiful tattoos, is designed to explore the relationship they have with the art they wear on their skin everyday. This image is printed on textured, heavy weight Hahnemühle German etching paper. It is visually and texturally beautiful.

I have two of Marco’s works in my collection which I hope to frame soon. If you would like to see more of his photobooth work, which includes self portraits, portraits of photographers in photobooths and other projects, some more examples and the links to his sites are below.

* My only foray into any indelible inking of my own skin resulted in a tiny heart-shaped flower on my left ankle, nausea, and a fainting spell, which was nicely followed up by a three day migraine. I was unaware at the time, that I had Ehlers Danlos Syndrome but my reaction to the procedure is not at all out of character for the illness. Needless to say, I still have only the one tiny tattoo.

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Unplanned – London (2013)

Marco’s website is http://www.peopleinphotobooth.it/ and his online shop can be found at http://peopleinphotobooth.bigcartel.com/
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