Smile child, smile!

With a noise maker in hand, lovely ruffled collar and sweet clown costume, one wonders why this child looks so miserable? Probably without even knowing it, he is wearing the costume and face of Pierrot, the sad clown. He is pining for the love of Columbine. Perhaps he knows she will break his heart and leave him for the more light-hearted Harlequin?

I am guessing that the long object protruding from the back of his hat is a long stemmed feather, but you may have some other theories?

This is another in a series photobooth photos of children with toys and animals, which come from between the two World Wars. As in the previous posts, this picture is from Germany.


With badly peeling emulsion, this German photobooth photo went for a song. Deterioration such as this never bothers me, in fact I think it adds to the image’s charm. The missing emulsion is probably due to the fact that this pic was trimmed and glued into a photo album.

The modern design of the print fabric of this girl’s dress, belies the fact that this photograph was taken in the 1930s. I don’t think there is much about the photo that suggests it is over 70 years old.

It looks to me to be a celebratory photo. Her Mutti and Vatti have just bought this fluffy new teddy, spotted a photobooth and decided to mark the occasion. Our sitter is truly delighted with her new friend, isn’t she? I wonder if she chose this particular bear because he also had a big ribbon bow like the one she is sporting?

It is delightful the way our little girl is supporting her bear so tenderly. She is holding his left paw, as one might hold the hand of a child that is sat on one’s lap. Mr Bear seems a bit distracted, though. His attention is definitely focused on something outside the booth. He is probably already sick of all the human chatter and is looking for a more ursine entertainment, such as a snack. As Pooh-Bear says, “It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like ‘What about lunch?'”.


I made these strips in my favourite photobooth in Melbourne some months ago. I so rarely get to either of the two remaining chemical booths in Melbourne, that I need to take the opportunity to get festive when the occasion arises.

Last year I was only able to get to a colour digital booth. Black and white is more suited to the Day of the Dead of course, so I was glad I planned ahead.

My skeletal friend disappeared into the background of one or two of the pics, so I added a light smattering of permanent marker to make sure you knew he was there!

Happy Halloween to you all!


Above is a slightly strange portrait of a young man in a photobooth. There is a lot we can guess about why the sitter chose such a lunatic expression for the photo, if we look at another from the same strip, that was once glued into a notebook.

The collage came to me the way you see it, here.


It did not take me long to find out that the man in the triangular hat is Aleister Crowley. Mr Crowley was, amongst many other things, the founder of the religion and philosophy of Thelema. He identified himself as the prophet entrusted with guiding humanity into the Æon of Horus in the early 20th century.

On Crowley’s hat is emblazoned the Eye of Providence (or the all-seeing eye of God). Most frequently the symbol shows a realistic depiction of an eye often surrounded by rays of light and usually enclosed by a triangle. It represents the eye of God watching over mankind (or divine providence).

In the case of Crowley’s organisation the eye is depicted as the ancient Egyptian Eye of Horus in the mistaken belief that the symbol dates back to Pharaonic times.


One of hundreds of different versions of the Eye of Providence


Aleister Crowley

Aspects of the counter culture of the 1960s is said to have been inspired by some of Crowley’s writings and beliefs. The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Frank Zappa were all known to have been interested in, if not influenced by him. Rightly or wrongly Crowley has been associated with Satanism and Black Magick.

And all this is leading me back to my photobooth man and his wild staring eyes. He may have been a devotee of Crowley and a Thelemite. He may have been a Satanist dabbling in the black arts. Or did he see himself as a possessor of rare vision, a man with an all-seeing eye?

He may have been looking to associate himself with the counter-culture image of rock idols of the late 1960s or early 1970s, or perhaps, he was just a very scary guy with a penchant for crayons and scissors. We will never know, but I do so love these pieces of vintage ephemera!

And just in case you’ve already forgotten that spaced out look, here is our possible acolyte once again. Sleep well tonight!



In this photobooth photo from 1930s Germany, you could almost miss seeing the tiny dog swaddled in a blanket. By the size and angle of the hand, it appears to me that this slightly nervous looking girl is not the one holding the petite pup. I won’t stand by that observation, as it could simply be an illusion of perspective created by the hand’s relative proximity to the camera, but it seems to be a hand too large to belong to such a small child.

The composition of this image is striking though, no doubt, unintentional. It nicely emphasises the diminutive size of both child and canine. I also like the fact that one can see the bottom of the backdrop curtain, a feature mostly obscured in early booth photos.


I bought this photo from a gentleman in Serbia. As for the other two photos I have posted from the same seller, I hope this is a Serbian woman, or in the case of this having been taken in the late 1970s or early 1980s, (the most likely possible dates of the image) a Yugoslavian woman.

I was very taken with the look on this young lady’s face. The position of her poised hand, gently resting on her chin, gives her a quizzical, thoughtful appearance. This is intensified by the lovely, faraway look in her eye. I wonder if she chose this position to make sure her ring was captured in the frame? Her fake fur coat looks warm and cozy but not like any real animal I can think of, save for a hyena.

As with all my photos, I wonder how this little gem escaped its home and made it onto an auction website? Maybe this was given as a token of affection to a boyfriend; the one who gave her the ring, perhaps? And as relationships come and go, the owner may no longer have cared enough to keep the image. Unfortunately, we will never know, but she is loved and respected here at least.



Hi Mr Smiley!

I love this kindly looking and open faced gentleman. He is stylish, cool and no doubt fashionable for the era in which this was taken. I am thinking 1950s due to the format and finish of the pic, but wonder if it could actually be earlier?

He is sporting what I would call a matinee idol moustache. It reminds me of Errol Flynn’s but is slightly less prominent. And what does the well dressed man about town need to keep his presentation up to scratch? A comb, of course. You can see his peeking out of his breast coat pocket.


Oh, Errol!

This is a larger than usual photobooth photo which measures 63mm x 86mm, as opposed to the standard size of 40mm x 50mm. It comes from the USA.

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