Flinders Street Station Photobooth Calamity

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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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37 comments
      • Xraypics said:

        And you too m’dear. I liked your latest picture of your friend in the booth.personally I think B&W are the best, more atmospheric.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I love the black and white ones, too Tony. When I cannot get to an old fashioned booth, I go to digital ones which are set up for colour prints. I occasionally change the settings to black and white but they don’t have the great contrasts of the old booths, sadly.

          Like

  1. John said:

    Nooooo!!! I hope the booth will stay put Katherine. May you feel better soon. Xxoo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading. While I have you here, is your name Peter? That is just a guess from one of your blog commenters. Or maybe you blog anonymously? Or maybe I just haven’t looked hard enough on your blog? I am so looking forward to parts 6 and 7 of Across the Room and Into the Fire!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • oglach said:

        If my name was Peter, I would definitely blog anonymously. 🙂
        The title of that poem is from an old joke, the punchline of which has Jesus saying, “Peter, I can see your house from up here.” (Up on the cross.) Thanks for reading, Katherine. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Brett said:

    Thanks for sharing this saga. Given Melbourne’s size, wonder if relocating the booth to another location would be an option. Surprised there’s no info on the booth itself about the owner and to whom one might inquire.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do have a means of getting in touch with the owner but have had no reply as yet, Brett. I think, given he is in his mid-eighties, he might not be too fussed about losing one of his booths. Are there many booths left in Canada? They were all over Montreal in 2009 but that is a long while ago now, of course.

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      • Brett said:

        That makes sense. Those old photobooths are rarely seen (at least not by me). Love your site and your spirit. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. vita said:

    I will be sure to use the booth if I make into town before it goes… I can’t think of a better place to have the booth so if there is a campaign to keep it there, let us know!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Vita! I would love to go with you. I have photos of the boys, their dad and of you (all very serious passport photos) in my collection but it would be so cool to get us together in a strip or two. Let’s try to make that happen! x x

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  4. Clarissa Harlowe said:

    Dear Katherine G.

    I suspect the booth will not have a brilliant future when it leaves Flinders St. Could a subscription be started for a new home under your protection?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Clarissa. Thanks for reading my post. It is my dream to have my own booth but they are HUGE beasties and very difficult to house and store. I am hoping a night club or amusement arcade will take it on if it must be moved, but that will be up to the owner.

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  5. This is more than a ‘calamity’! I agree with Brett… there surely must be somewhere else for the booth to end up and stay where You can get to it. Do they have any idea who they are dealing with??? Write a letter to the editor of the Melbourne newspapers and get ahold of Lindy. I will start praying.

    p.s. love the sign “if coins fall out. try again”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, that is a great idea! I will write to her. I have her email address somewhere.

      I love that you love that sign, Ted!

      Liked by 1 person

        • Good, that’s a start. Also, can you think of a place that would be good for a photo booth, a mall, theater, restaurant or store? They might reach out to the owner of the booth.

          Liked by 1 person

          • There are so many places! I must talk to Alan about what he wants to do and see if I can move him in that direction.

            Liked by 1 person

  6. feralc4t said:

    How about having a chat with the (excellent imo) Melbourne Museum? A working display of course..

    Liked by 2 people

    • Now that is a great idea! Once I get hold of Alan, I will ask him if he will be selling any of his old booths or even better would he donate one? One for me, one for the museum!

      Like

  7. Ralph said:

    Oh no ! Some people have no consideration for the Kates of this world !

    Get well soon my friend. Thinking of you ❤ xox

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Jennie said:

    Great post and story. No help from me all the way in far away New England. Please keep us posted.

    Like

  9. Quinn said:

    Your blog came up on my Reader and I love old photobooths so had to have a look! I hope they don’t take it away, it looks like a majestic old thing that should be allowed to live out its days on the streets making people happy with its photographic strips.

    Liked by 1 person

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