Monthly Archives: March 2017


This lovely strip of four photobooth photos was taken in the USA, probably around the mid to late 1950s. This strip was a gift from my blogging friend Ted. (Thanks Ted!!) For the past twelve months there have been a lot of photos, which appear to come from this same booth, for sale on Ebay.

Not only is this child photogenic but she is at ease in front of the camera. She has chosen her poses well, including a different one for each image. Or has she chosen them?

When photobooths were first introduced to the world, they were installed in photographic studios that offered a variety of add-on services. These included hand-colouring, enlargements, duplications and framing. The booths were operated by a controller who would guide the sitter through a series of predetermined poses.

By the time these photos were taken, photobooths were mostly automatic, coin operated and situated in department stores, bus and train stations or other places with a good flow of foot traffic. In the photos for sale, which I mentioned above, poses like the ones in this strip are replicated over and over again. They are rarely in a complete series like these, (Thanks again Ted!!) but the frequency of the same poses and their formal style suggests that this booth was still being controlled by an operator in the 1950s.

So where would those operator controlled booths have been? They would have been owner operated and peripatetic. Like the photobooth owned by my photobooth clown, Yo Yo, they would have been at circuses or fairs. They might also have been at special social events such as school proms, adult dances or even fundraisers. So, with her casual shirt and relaxed demeanour I would be very happy to guess that this young lady had her photobooth experience on a day out at a travelling carnival or fun fair.

I have some other photos that might have come from the same or a similar type of booth. I will share them with you soon and you will see further evidence of my theories in the poses and costumes of the sitters.

This undated half strip of a dad posing with his son, has been in the wars. It is damaged, dirty and poorly developed but the characters depicted are funny and loveable. The man’s moustache puts these photos squarely in the 1970s. That assertion is further backed up by his lovely mullet hairstyle and disco-guy fashion sense.

This boy isn’t half as good as his pa at pulling silly faces, but he is giving it his best, given the vagaries of the timing of each flash.

The type of facial topiary his dad sports, is commonly known, in the dubious circles in which I move, as a porn star ‘tache. And yet, combined with the white top, with striped feature on the v-neck, I prefer to think of it as a cricketer ‘tache. Some famous Australian cricketers who favoured this droopy style of fuzz in the 70s are –

Max Walker

Ian Chappell

Rodney Marsh

Please note the (minor) similarity of style of the cricketing jumpers, to the top worn by our man in the booth pic. Sometimes my imagination doesn’t quite match the reality of things.

These photos come from the USA, but they should have come from Australia.


When I first saw this 1930s photobooth photo from Germany, I thought this young lady was holding a Mickey Mouse stuffed doll. Closer inspection revealed the toy to be a pug dog decorated with a tiny bell on its collar. At least I think it is a pug. I cannot find anything like it online, but if you Google “German 1930s vintage stuffed toy pug” the results are wonderfully amusing!

With her head tilted forward on an angle, it is hard to determine how old this girl might be. She appears to be a teenager as she is wearing earrings and a necklace.  I don’t believe that would have been the norm for a younger child of this era.  As well, her hands look to be those of an older child. Given the dog appears to be soiled around its muzzle, from lots of kisses and snuggles, I hope, I wonder if he is a relic of her childhood? Would she have deliberately set out with an old toy to get a photo taken with it? Against my theory that it is an older possession, is the fact that its paws are clean and unworn. Maybe it was new?

The pattern of her cardigan was recently, albeit briefly, back in fashion here in Australia. I’m not a great fan of this type of geometric knit, but the sitter wears it well. She obviously loves this toy. How wonderful that she is now able to share that love with us.


1970s USA

Here we see two best friends in a photobooth having a fabulous time together. Their closeness is undeniable. In the second and third photos, the girl at the back cuddles her friend, who reacts with a spontaneous burst of dimpled joy.

The marker pen scrawlings of graffiti on the background curtain add something to the feeling of time and place of the strip. It suggests that this booth was in an unpatolled public area, somewhere like a railway, subway or bus station. Department store, bowling alley or night club booths never get this shoddy treatment.

Why, oh why, is this photo in my collection here in Australia? Why is it not being treasured by one of the girls or at the very least a member of their family?

Maybe there are some visible clues as to what happened? The strip was folded twice at the end of each photo, to make it easier to slip into a purse or handbag. That tells me that the photo was valued enough on the day it was made, for the owner to want to be sure it arrived home unscathed.

On the back, there are remnants of the sticky residue that is left from those dreadful, photo-destroying, self-stick albums of the 1970s. That suggests that the value of the images extended well beyond the day they were made.

There is a crease across the bottom of the strip. How could that have happened? If the girls had had a falling out, the owner of the strip would most likely have torn it up or thrown it out, not just randomly bent one edge. Could the crease be accidental and have happened when the album was being looked through? Those self-stick albums age in one of two ways. Either the photos are permanently fastened to the pages (oh, the horror!) or they slide out and end up all over the place. Some might fall on the floor or table. Others might be tucked carelessly back inside where they could easily be squashed and buckled.

Or could the strip have fallen on the floor and been used as a bookmark, until such time as it was replaced in the old album or a newer one? In that case it could so easily have been forgotten. Books tend to be given away or sold more often than other household items. I have been given some photobooth photos by a friend who found them while browsing in a charity shop, so that is my preferred theory. It consoles me to think that they were accidentally parted from the owner, not deliberately sold off due to apathy or avarice.

I’m sure you have heard such theories from me before. I hope anyone who reads this post, treasures their family memories and treats them with the love and respect they deserve. No more orphaned photos please!

Last year I was unable to get to a photobooth to take a strip of photos to celebrate St Patrick’s Day. It hadn’t actually occurred to me to do an Irish themed post until then, that is, apart from posts that feature all my Irish relatives. Finding a fabulous, green, glittery, leprechaun-style hat in a charity shop was what prompted me to plan my first one. Not being able to get to a real booth, I donned a greenish dress and the hat, then used an online photobooth instead. You can see the results in this post.

This year I planned a bit further in advance and made the above offering, using the same hat and some homemade props.

A very happy St Paddy’s Day to all my Irish relatives and friends, and to anyone else who likes to celebrate the day of green beer, shamrocks and all things Irish.

I have written about Marco Ferrari and his photobooth art before. He is a passionate lover of this special genre of photography and I am a passionate lover of his work.

Marco uses his booth photos to create beautiful fine art prints. I am the proud owner of two examples. He doesn’t have his own booth in London, where he currently lives, so makes his art using public machines, some of which he maintains. When using booths he services, he can control exposure but, unlike other booth artists, he doesn’t control the timing of the photos. This not only leads to beautiful, spontaneous images but is a testament to his creativity and skill.

For him the booth is a safe environment for the subjects he wishes to photograph. Most of the people he works with are not used to posing for a photographer, so the closed, private environment of the booth allows the sitter to relax. This contributes to their ability to freely express themselves in the way they pose. Marco has an idea of what he wishes to achieve in a photo session, so directs the sitter from outside. When the photos are finished he shows them to the subject and suggests ways they could change or improve what they have done.

“I try not to direct too much because I don’t want the same photos from everyone. I try to capture their unique personality.”

I was very touched and excited when this original strip of photos arrived in the post as a gift from Marco. These are from one of the booths he maintains, so he was able to achieve the sepia tones by adjusting the developing chemicals. I love the poses he has chosen but I am especially enamoured with his wonderful, curly moustache.

If you have not already seen it, please read this post and check the links to Marco’s work.

26 January 2003, Leicestershire, UK

I took this photobooth strip at Leicester Station on my way to London to visit my cousin Rachel and her husband Mark.

This strip of photos comes from my series Photobooth 45 Year Project. The complete set of posts to date, can be seen in reverse order at the link Photobooth 45 Year Project (Archive) under the Categories heading in the side bar, on the right of this post.

Many of the photos in this long series are unremarkable. They make up a photographic album of my adult life, which gives me a lot of pleasure as I add each new photo to the collection. I also love the memories they bring back, when I write about them for this blog.

For those of you who are new subscribers or visitors to this blog, UK artist Dick Jewell made a video using photos from this project in 2012. It can be seen on Vimeo here.


When Gomer Pyle was on TV in Australia, another fabulous US series I loved, The Addams Family, was on children’s television in a regular cycle of repeats. John Astin as Gomez was a big favourite of mine.

This strip of photos was found on New Year’s Day, 2003, at Leicester Station. I was living in that U.K. city at the time. While this guy doesn’t really look like the head of the Addams family, either in the sitcom or the New Yorker cartoon versions, there is something good-naturedly creepy about him. I think he could be Gomez in his pre-moustachioed youth. His funereal black jacket and blood-red tie add to his modern ghoulish style. I love the gormless look on his face and his spidery uneven fringe, which is reminiscent of Pugsley Addams (below) of the TV series, too.

A description of Gomez as a young man, in the episode Morticia’s Romance, was of a perennially sickly youth who gained perfect health only after meeting Morticia. This guy’s pasty, sun-starved complexion, agrees with that description and adds to the Addams Family appeal of this strip of photos.

Pugsley Addams, son of Gomez and Morticia

I love this handsome, kind looking, older gentleman. He has a sanguine face and a gentle smile. There are some remnants of sadness in his eyes, as he has seen his fair share of trouble throughout his long life. However, he always pulled through it with a renewed sense of optimism and hope for the future.

This small photobooth photo comes from the USA and probably dates to the mid 1950s.

This very sweet, little, photobooth image arrived in the post unexpectedly. It was enclosed in a funny card (A man on the back of a dolphin accidentally breaks something. His friend says, “Man, you did that on porpoise!”) and was posted from the USA. My friend Ted, strikes again! Ted has sent me numerous fabulous photobooth strips, penny photos and other lovely gifts over the years. I cannot thank him enough for his generosity. He has a great eye for choosing excellent examples of my favourite photo genres and has also given me numerous booth strips in which he is the star.

Beautifully hand coloured, this image stands out for the subtlety of the facial toning and skill with which the hair and dress have been rendered. I have never before seen fabric painting that is so detailed and delicate on such a tiny photo. Every stripe of colour is precisely placed along side the next. The folds in the fabric and hem of the capped sleeves are exactly as they would appear on the actual item. There is also a slight texture in the lines that suggests to me that this light cotton dress was made of seersucker.

Summer springs to mind when I look at this picture. The style and cloth of her dress screams sun and sand. Its colours suggest the 1950s. Pretty and young, the subject looks relaxed and happy. All this suggests to me that this photo was a beachside holiday souvenir from almost 60 years ago. Do you agree?

Thanks again to Ted! You can visit his photo blog here.

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