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Vintage Photobooth

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.

USA 1960s

Hello little girls, with your wonky mummy-cut fringes! I love your complementing striped tops. You are working so beautifully together to compose these photos. Your mum and dad must’ve been so thrilled with them!

The strip of these two cuties came from a photo album in which the following three snapshots were found.


A Christmas with a new baby. Is it a boy or a girl?


It’s another girl. What an extravagant Easter!


The girl holding the jug of hooch and the pipe is presumed to be the mother of the three sisters. I wonder if this was just a dress-up game or were the costumes for a party or Halloween? Either way it is a fabulous precursor to this little history of girlhood.

USA, early 1970s

In this strip of photos, on a first glance, it looks like an older girl is trying to corrupt a younger one. That is until you see that, if anything, the younger girl is doing the corrupting. In reality, despite the tie-less, pigtailed, schoolgirl look of the lass on the left, these two are probably the same age and well past the stage where smoking could be deemed to be quite so “naughty”. I’d say they were both in their twenties, or do you think they are younger than that?

If it were not for the fact that the cigarette is so perfectly formed and obviously not a hand rolled one, I’d think they were indulging in a joint, rather than a ciggie. I love the fact that the act of sharing a fag in a photobooth is so amusing to them both. And using a cigarette holder? How sophisticated, (or not!). I feel like the mirth is such that there must’ve been a reason for it. Could it have been induced by the fact they swiped the holder from a pretentious employer or older relative?

The way the girl on the right is blowing smoke directly at the camera, in the second shot, is nicely caught and the look of glee on both their faces makes me want to join in with the gag.

Isn’t the girl on the right stunningly beautiful, and all the more so for her beaming smile?

This was an incredibly generous gift from my friend Ted. He has sent me some magnificent strips over the past few years. This one surpasses them all! Thanks again, Ted!

It is Anzac Day here in Australia, in beautiful New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Niue, Pitcairn Islands, and Tonga. It is also commemorated in Papua New Guinea and Samoa. Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance that commemorates all from those places “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations” and “the contribution and suffering of all those who have served”.

Today a new centre to honour our contribution to campaigns on the Western Front was opened by our Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. The Centre is named after General Sir John Monash, “who led the Australian Corps with outstanding success on the Western Front in 1918, including the famous 4 July 1918 victory at Le Hamel”. It is located at the Australian National Memorial near Villers-Bretonneux in France.

Having a laugh, France 1944

I do not have any photobooth photos of Australian soldiers in France but I want to share some to represent all the people who fought far from home in any war, at any time. I feel very privileged to own this group of World War 2 era photos, taken by American soldiers somewhere in France in 1944 and 1945. They evoke very melancholy emotions, which are at once full of admiration at the sacrifices made and the courage it must’ve taken to fight, while at the same time they stir a deep, deep sadness and dismay that we are still fighting senseless wars and killing our fellow men, women and children.

Above is handsome Lawler. Both images are dated 1944 and were taken on different days in France.

This is Brice or Bruce. 1945 France.

Above are two more from the same group, also probably taken in France. I know nothing about the uniforms or even if they are all in uniform. I don’t know what the pin on the lapel of one soldier indicates or if the hat Lawler is wearing indicates his rank. I hope some of the details will be filled in for me, by you.

USA Late 1950s

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.

She probably had the light meter in its leather case tucked into her pocket.

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.

Showing how the camera was/is used.

The photo above is from the blog Zinc Moon.

Often there are instances where one might have an inkling that a photo of two people could be that of siblings but with no positive proof, it remains just that – an inkling, a guess, a supposition. For some reason I feel certain that the women here are sisters, despite the differences between them. If not sisters, they look to have had a long and close friendship. I feel joy and hope when I look at this photo. At this age, I want to be able to take a similar photo with one of my besties, with whom I have shared a photobooth on more occasions, than with anyone else.

I love the intimate pose of these two – their shoulders overlapping and heads touching. From the lady on the right we see a gentle tilt of the head towards her companion. This emphasises their closeness and suggests to me that she is the more dependent one in the relationship. I also love the way their smiles are so genial and welcoming. They are genuinely warm and unforced, and their eyes have followed suit, inviting us to enjoy the warmth of their relationship.

This photo is undated but the style of clothing and jewellery suggests to me it is from the late 1950s or early 60s. What looks at first glance to be a brooch on the lady at the left, is actually a very lovely and unusual means of fastening her jacket. You can just see the other part of this clasp at the far bottom left of the photo. She is also wearing some tasteful earrings which are too indistinct in the photo to guess more about them. I am assuming the pansy shaped brooch to be on the dress or jacket of the lady on the right. However, it is on an unusual angle if it is on her clothing, and yet it seems to sit too high to be on the breast of her friend, where a brooch would most likely be placed, for it to be hers. Another question for me is, are those leaf shapes to the left of the sparkling pansies, part of that same brooch or another one altogether?

As always there will be things that you will notice that I have missed. I love to get your thoughts and feelings, so please leave a comment.

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