This is a 1920s/early 1930s Photomaton branded postcard of a French photobooth photo. I wish I had the original image to show you, as it would’ve been of a much finer quality.

Our fashion conscious model is shown in one of the guided poses, from a prescribed list used by the Photomaton Corporation. In the early days of photobooth photography, the machines were installed in photography studios and operated by a trained supervisor who made sure you got that perfect shot. The original strips were of eight images. I will share one complete, uncut strip with you soon, that is, if I can find it!

On first glance this young woman looks to be on the pulse of between-the-wars fashion. She has a sharp cut bob and a cloche hat, both so typically stylish and indicative of the era. Yet there is something wrong. This is a fashion fail foto! Nothing matches. There are too many different patterns – geometric, floral, leafy. The large floppy bow is demure and feminine. To me, it works poorly with the tailored jacket and masculine collar of her shirt. Perhaps, without the addition of an artificial flower, she might’ve made this ensemble work?

I love the individual elements she has chosen. The pattern on the bow is chic and the buckle on her hat, a wonderful art deco, stylised, laurel wreath design. But again, there is no blending or matching of her accessories. Less is more, beautiful femme française. Less is more.

  1. Ditch the yucky pin and she’d have had it made! She was decades too early for Photoshop. Oh well…so glad you are back to regular blogging!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. maclancy1950 said:

    she is so lovely and she has an impeccable sense of style!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh wait, maybe Shayne meant the flower. I was thinking pin on the hat which I like. I know someone in Oz that flower pin would look perfect on.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. simon robinson said:

    Why do we think this was taken in France? This is a UK style back. French card have a different arrangement. Lovely portrait though. And ignore the brooch comments, if something big is good enough for our Supreme Court chairwoman!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Great comment. Yes, I agree that French postcards follow a different format, Simon. However, the Photomaton Corporation supplied their subsidiaries with a complete graphic design package to go with the machines they sold throughout the world. Initially, Photomaton postcards had the same layout regardless of the country in which they were produced. Similarly, machines only took American size and weight coins, so tokens had to be manufactured for their use outside the United States. This too changed eventually.

      I bought the post card from a French seller. It came from an estate sale in a regional town. None of this is definitive proof that the sitter is French, but it is a fairly good chance that she was.

      Liked by 2 people

      • simon robinson said:

        That would be good enough for me to go with France then! It’s a pretty good result for a machine. This whole are of auto booths is one which is really fascinating, I’m trying to gather stuff on the Polyfoto machines which were widespread across UK and Europe. They even had their own shops for a while, and in the UK a double decker bus fitted out with one!

        Liked by 3 people

        • Wow! I didn’t know Polyfoto had their own shops and bus must’ve been Wonderful! I’ve a few of their pics in my collection. Have you seen their albums?


          • Simon Robinson said:

            They seem to have done lots of different gimmicks to help sell the pics, I have two pre and post War calendars, where they put 12 different photos from the session in, one for each month. I guess you had to really like the person to want that on your wall! Bradford museum has one of the camera machines but not on display sadly.

            Liked by 2 people

            • Wow! I didn’t know that anyone published personalised photographic calendars so far back! I’d adore to see them. Are they on your blog? I will check.


              • simon robinson said:

                Not yet scanned these; I was lucky enough to find them on a Swiss auction site quite cheap. But will get round to it! Polyfoto actually went into colour later on but I’ve never found any I can be certain are theirs.

                Liked by 2 people

  4. Great flapper portrait! I love the Art Deco/Sci-Fi ring to that vintage process: “Photomaton.”

    Great to see you back.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. She’s probably a contemporary of my grandmother’s. 5 years before, she likely wore her hair down to her… long-hemmed dresses, and possibly a corset… 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

      • I think it was a combination of WWI (when women started to work to replace the men out on the front) and Coco Chanel who threw the corset away, cut dresses and hair. Then 30 some years later, Mary Quant cut the rest of dresses and invented the mini-skirt. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

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