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Vintage Photobooth

I am tentatively dipping my toe back in the blogging pool after a long hiatus. To ease myself back in, I’ve chosen the painted backgrounds of the photos, instead of the people, as the focus.

These items are all from the USA and very easily dated to WW2 thanks to the painted battleships in the backdrops. It amuses me that the composition is virtually identical in each of the three examples, yet different enough to suggest they were painted by different artists. So which one was the original design, if any of them? Does this follow the layout of a navy recruitment poster or a propaganda leaflet? Did Fred Nerk, Joe Blogs or Jane Smith come up with the design for his/her photobooth business, only to have it copied, to varying degrees of proficiency, until it spread the length of the country?

 

Paper Soul – Five Haiku by Rose Perez

You’ve nothing to say
In silence, you still taunt me
Quiet mockery

I stare back at you
A frozen smile strains your face
Love’s gone; there’s no trace

Limb by limb, I rip
*Raguel, I call onto thee
Set my vengeance free

Arms, legs, hands, and feet
My ex-lover’s confetti
Scattered piece by piece

You’ve broken my heart
Your paper soul I’ve now cleaved
I tear you from me

*Raguel is known as the Angel of Vengeance.

Rose Perez is the Poet Rummager. She extrudes then moulds the soul of an image, or idea, into thought provoking, emotional and memorable poems. Please visit her blog!

My apologies to Rose for not having acknowledged this piece sooner. It is based on a scrap of a photobooth photo which I found discarded in Melbourne, many years ago. Thank you Rose!

Ravenous

See me as I am

Glutton for your attention

Ravenous woman

 

I love haiku poems and have found the blogging world to be filled with poets using this old Japanese form in exciting ways. I have two particular favourites in this field. Today I share one of them with you.

Rose Perez from Poet Rummager is an artist-collector-poet. Her poetry comes in many forms. They are frequently deeply personal and touching, inspiring and insightful. There is a lot to explore on her blog including audio clips of her reading her poems, art of her own making, art from others and collaborations.

A short time ago I asked Rose if she would like to use one my photos as inspiration for some of her work. I was really thrilled when she said yes. I think the piece, above, captures the dynamic in this photo. It makes me chuckle, though without the photo, the poem has a different, more dramatic tone. It stands on its own.

Please visit Rose’s blog to read and see more, at the links above, or here.

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.

 

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