The Photobooth Adventures Of Super Jim (Grey)!


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 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!


    • Still one or two in my home town of Melbourne but they will soon be gone, I’m afraid.


  1. Xraypics said:

    How did Superman change the side of his parting so quickly (Well, I suppose he IS Superman!) and where does he dump his grey suit, & glasses in the meantime?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow! You have an eagle eye there, Tony! Yes, he can do anything. He is Super but he is also a litter bug, I’m afraid.


  2. John said:

    I love this guy! Cheesy smile and all, what a great series Katherine!! Had me laughing out loud. XO

    Liked by 1 person

  3. oglach said:

    Great post, plenty to see. The youthful energy in the photos made me smile, as did the Superman strip. I had no idea there were Polaroid booths. Thanks for sharing, Katherine and Jim.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Oglach. There is so much joy in the lot of ’em. I have been in one or two Polaroid photobooths, where four seperate shots were laid up on the standard Polaroid print size. I think they had the option for just one photo like this one, but I always went for variety.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Jim Grey said:

    What fun! Thanks for featuring my photobooth photos. We took three photos in the Polaroid booth, one for each of us, with the person who kept the photo being front and center. My memory says they cost a dollar each!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is so great that you sent these to me. Did you see the other comments? They have made us all happy. Thanks again, Jim.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. One of the things I enjoy about Bucharest are the pockets of the city that seem to be trapped in time (about 20 years ago). In these pockets, there are still telephone booths, and even photobooths!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That comment made me feel like I was about to travel in time with you! The telephone booth like Doctor Who’s police phone box and photobooths are are strangely linked in their ability to evoke the past and in a way travel in time. If you get what I mean?! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Quinn said:

    This was great. I’ve never seen a vintage photo booth – maybe they never took off here in Ireland? When I went to Japan though I was really amused at the way groups of teenagers would go to photobooths as an evening activity, and they had costumes and wigs and filters and all sorts. It was wild! I loved it.

    Still, this post really made me want to go find an old-fashioned beauty to take good old-fashioned photographs in…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. How fun! So nice of Super Jim to share his collection. What a great idea the mug shot thing. And, Superman was a crackup. Tell Super Jim we want to see a current one!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. vita said:

    I always took photo booths for granted –
    I guess that photo booths shots are the original selfies!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hello my dear! I took them for granted, also. If I’d had any idea how quickly they would disappear, I would have taken hundreds more strips.

      I don’t see booth photos as the original selfies. (Did you know that that, now international, term originated in Australia?) To me selfies are too controlled and self conscious and mostly show premeditated, or faked emotion. A dozen may be taken and then mostly deleted to leave only one perfect shot to be disseminated.

      The old time photobooths never let on when the flash was going to go off. There was spontaneity, accidents of pose and lighting, a limited number of shots, vagaries of the chemicals and no previews before the photos were delivered. I see them as very different and immensely superior to digital selfies, but then, I am a wee bit biased! 😃

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m afraid I am going to have to side with Vita and Mouse on this one. In a sense they were the first selfies, you just couldn’t hold a photo booth in your hand.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I feel like I’m being ganged up on! 😊 I had to laugh at the thought of trying to hold a photobooth in one hand. Need to work on my upper arm strength.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Spontaneous and fun-filled! You have one of the most unique blogs, and I’m so glad you’re back. Hope you’re doing well! 😘

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Rose. I’ve reorganised a few things in my life, so I hope I will be a more regular blogger. It is such an exciting thing to do, I miss it when I am ill.

      Liked by 1 person

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