Here we have a seriously unamused child with, what looks to be, a brand new dolly. Her furrowed brow reminds me of an expression a disapproving, elder relative might direct towards a naughty child. Yet there is a faint trace of a smile in her pursed lips. It is as though the experience of being photographed is eliciting an automatic gesture, that she is determined not to make. The doll is looking sanguinely towards her owner’s face, hoping she is not the object of the girl’s displeasure. The way the stripes of the girl’s top and the plaid of the doll’s dress tonally harmonise, visually emphasises an emotional joining of the two actor’s in this photographic vignette.
As with any other photobooth photos, there would have been multiple photos in this strip. The others might have shown a perky, carefree, smiling child. However, this photobooth photo is the one that survived out in a world of deceased estate auctions, flea markets and online collectibles websites. A rough and tumble world, where photos as small as this one often get jammed in the bottom of a box, bent and mangled by browsers or lumped into and forgotten in a large auction lot with more desirable photos. All this leads me to think that this child’s grumpy-face was not unique to this photo at all. She had her doll. She had her day out. She was tired and wanted to go home and she DIDN’T want her photo taken in a stupid photobooth.