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Vintage Photobooth

Above is one of a series of silverpoint drawings based on photobooth images. The artist is Roy Eastland. He is based in the UK where he exhibits widely.

His work is centred on drawing. He is especially interested in art about human presence, memory and trace.

Roy talks about this series –

These silverpoint portraits are based on photobooth images of my Mum. They were most likely done for bus passes. The photos I’ve drawn from are the mistimed and unflattering ones which were never used. I like them because they capture familiar facial expressions and the hints of  personality which better-posed photographs would never have caught.

The photographs are the starting points but the drawings are never straightforward copies of them. They slowly emerge out of a painstaking drawing-process of repeated loss and revision. The drawings are repeatedly scratched-away and redrawn so that the resultant drawings are traces of time as much as they are drawings of people.

The drawings contain blocks of handwriting too. Handwriting is also a kind of drawing. The texts are made up of lines of remembered speech and familiar stories repeatedly re-written and altered in each re-telling. Some phrases and words become more prominent over time but complete sentences are hard to see and the presence of it all is always fragile, like a memory.

Silverpoint drawings are made by drawing a point of silver wire across a prepared surface onto which tiny traces of metal are deposited. These traces are extremely subtle; pressing the point harder will not make the line any darker or its presence any stronger. The delicacy of silverpoint lines makes it an appropriate medium for an art about presence, trace and memory.

My drawings are based on photobooth images but they are really drawings about the presence of life in insignificant and otherwise unrecorded moments. Drawings condense moments in time into traces of touch. They take time to do and the sense of time is subtly replayed whenever someone spends time looking at a drawing. My drawings are a kind of meditation on an imagined single moment of a life in which someone was still for a while and at which no one else was present.

I find his work extremely interesting and moving. There is a strong sense of being pulled into the image, as though we are leaping through a time barrier in order to be able to connect with the person, face to face. Roy’s drawings achieve something which I aim to convey in words when I describe a photobooth photo on this blog. I love the subtle relationship of materials between the silverpoint used to make the drawings and the silver gelatin process that was used in photobooth photos for decades.

Two more of Roy’s works are below. You can see a lot more of his beaautiful images at his blog, here.

 

From an online auction.

Is it just me, or is the name “Undertaker’s Wives Club” a poorly thought out title for a social group? I mean for any group at all? It doesn’t have a ring of cheery conversation and bonhomie, does it?

The unusual name emblazoned at the top, certainly makes for a highly desirable, collectable image. That is especially so with the stunningly beautiful female subject. The hand tinting and the industrial landscape background add to its desirability, not to mention that it was taken in one of the most famous NYC dance clubs of the 1920s and 30s.

I have two Savoy Ballroom photos in my collection. They have the same background featured, with the year and the event names changing in each. If anyone can tell me what is depicted in this back-drop, I’d be very grateful to hear from you.

The auction for this stunning image is still ongoing. I’ve bid to my maximum and so now must bow out. I can see it going for up to $100 or more.

It is always fun to see how other people use photobooths to record special events or to just have some fun. As a result of the threatened closure of the Flinders Street photobooth, I’ve found out a lot more about how Melbournians have used this booth and how important it has been in their lives.

A particularly fun set of images came to my attention recently. Lanie and her husband have been collecting booth images for sometime. She continues the story –

Every year on 4 January, or close to, we get a photo at the Flinders Street booth. It’s our anniversary. The collection of black and white photos marks so many milestones. Footloose young sweethearts, my bulging belly pregnant with our first child, then babies and children emerge in the photos, as the years progress. There have been 9 photos so far… I hope dozens more to come!

You can see some details from the above strips, below. The second one down is of Lanie’s husband, kissing her belly when she was 6 months pregnant with their first child. Speaking of which, I have another pregnant belly photo to show you very soon.

 

I haven’t published a Photomatic photobooth photo (above) in a very long while. For those of you who have never seen one before, it came from a type of photobooth that produced a framed image directly from the machine. The frame acted as a developing tray for the photo. Such a wonderful concept, yet the machines disappeared well before the demise of other types of chemical booths.

Above is a photo which I believe to be a Florida woman named Bella Emanuel. I’m not sure of it, but the image came from the same seller, albeit several years later, where I bought some other photos of her. I wrote about Bella and her husband Jay in 2013 in this post. You will find the other photos of Bella there. You can see the couple, pictured below, in another Photomatic.

So, what do you think? Is it the same woman?

If you would like to know a little more about Photomatic machines please click here.

This post, has an example of the back of a Photomatic photograph, where you can see the way advertisers were able to use the instant, framed photo concept to promote their businesses.

photoboothMovieMagazineCouple Jan2013

 

 

The interest that the threatened removal of the Flinders Street photobooth generated, has turned owner, Alan Adler, into a minor celebrity. It is a celebrity he could have done without. I can’t imagine what he went through, with the worry of the proposed abrupt cessation of his business, hanging over him for two weeks.

For those Melbournians dedicated to “dip and dunk” chemical photobooths, Alan has always been a much loved figure in our city. Selfishly, I love seeing him getting some public recognition for his work. A couple of days ago The Guardian did a picture essay about him. You can find it here.

 

USA, 22 May 1928

This battered little photo was taken exactly 90 years ago, today. Marie is a sparky little lady, who is very aware of how to behave in front of a camera. Assuming she was about two years old when this was taken, and that she lived most of her life in the prosperity of the United States, it is possible that she is still alive today. She would be only three years older than my mother and the same age as a wonderful lady named Paddy, with whom I do my pain-management exercise therapy.

I imagine this photo departed its original home by being given to someone close to the family, but not part of it, around the time it was taken. Over the decades the significance of this memento faded from memory as people moved town, or otherwise lost contact, got older or died, thus leading it to being sold in an auction or junk shop.

Here’s hoping that, like my friend Paddy, Marie is hale and hearty and amazing everyone who knows her with her zest for life and wonderful sense of humour.

In January last year the administration at Flinders Street station intended to have my favourite photobooth permanently removed from its location on Flinders Street. A booth has been at the station for 44 years. Due to the hard work of some students from Melbourne University, and others, a campaign to save the booth was launched and for some 16 months was successful.

Unfortunately the threat has reemerged, as you can see from the notes the owner, Alan, has placed on the booth. There is a new Facebook group called SAVE THE FLINDERS STREET PHOTO BOOTH. The women who have started this group have spoken with Alan and they tell me that it is not his decision to close down the booth. I hope you can all join to help swell the numbers in order to make our displeasure felt and save the booth.

I apologise to the many people who have left comments on this blog or replied to comments I have made on other blogs, that remain unanswered. My health isn’t too great at the moment. I will get back to everyone as soon as I can.

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