This young woman looks serious about her camera and to my twenty-first century eye, she looks like a professional photographer. Yet, despite its elaborate appearance, the camera is a budget, amateur model, called the Yashica-A. It was released in 1956 in various colour bodies and leatherette finishes. With its striking side flash-unit, perhaps for some, it also acted as a fashionable accessory, as much as a useful tool for a hobby?
This fresh faced girl is unremarkable in so many ways but there is something in her direct gaze at the camera and that half smile that makes me think she was quite formidable. I cannot see her aspiring to be a wife and mother, which most young ladies of the 1950s were taught to see as their life’s path. I would love to know what photos she took on the day she made this booth photo. Did she have her own darkroom? Are those photos floating about on an online auction site or being discussed in a photography forum? Perhaps they are still being loved and cared for by a family member?
Her crisp white shirt looks very smart in its simplicity and compliments her make-up free, jewellery-free and tousel-haired style. I’m almost positive she would have been wearing a neat pair of shorts with capacious pockets, perhaps to hold the light meter, some spare film and bulbs for the flash?
An interesting feature of the Yashica-A is that, like the much older box Brownie cameras, it features a waist level view finder. Many of you would know from long past family members, that you hold the camera down at tummy level to compose the shot, rather than holding it up to your eye. Both the photobooth image and the ones below, show the view finder open and ready to go.
I bought this marvellous American photobooth image from Australian-American artist, writer, curator and publisher Damian Michaels. In some of his work, Damian uses vintage photographs as his canvas. In looking for images that resonate with him, he buys groups of photographs, possibly using only one or two for his pieces. I was recently the lucky recipient of a group of photobooth photos he could not use.
The photo above is from the blog Zinc Moon.