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Sometimes I am lucky enough to find a large, mixed lot of photobooth photos at a reasonable price. Along with dirty, scratched, bent, taped, torn or peeling photos, there will be those in pristine condition. However sometimes the condition just doesn’t matter.

All of these photos have suffered from poor handling and all being relatively new, are not sort after by the “serious” collector. I don’t give a rat’s fart about that! I love the joy and craziness exhibited in each and every one of them. I hope you do, too.

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All the photos come from a country that is great, always has been great and doesn’t need to be “made great again”, the United States of America.

The photobooth poem in the previous post, I published without any details about the writer. I wanted to focus on the poem, rather than its origins. My reason for that decision, is that I don’t actually have any details about the author and it is rather a long story to tell you why.

It is all very mysterious. The poem was written as a comment on this post, which revealed that the Flinders Street photobooth had been saved from permanent removal. The comment was made by the blogger atrmws who, I discovered upon searching for more details, has a private blog site. I was unable to determine the most basic information, such as where they are from or whether they are male or female.

As a reply to the poem comment, I asked for permission to use it as a post. After 24 hours or so, with no response, I decided that the author may not regularly be on WordPress and therefore may not have seen my request. I reasoned that publishing it as a separate post would not be a problem, as it had already been published as a comment. Luckily, it was not a faux pas on my part, as atrmws, liked the poem post. Sadly they did not leave a comment.

For the poem, atrmws had done some research. In order to construct it, they referenced comments by Alan Adler, the owner of the booth, from a newspaper article from January 2011. I suspect they have also spent time using an old photobooth as the line “A whirring, thinking, clinking something” exactly captures the sounds one hears when the booth is working to develop photos.

So thank you to atrmws! I was totally thrilled to find that you had written a photobooth poem just for me.

I hope you enjoyed reading The Flinders Street Photobooth poem and hearing at least a fragment of the story behind it. Douglas from From 1 Blogger 2 Another liked it enough to reblog it, for which I thank him. I also thank him for all the other times he has reblogged my posts. Cheers Douglas!

Please check out Douglas’s blog blog to discover some wonderful gems from the blogosphere or check out his artist’s blog Moorezart for a dose of inspiration. You may also enjoy the Art of Quotation for some daily creative thinking through quotes.

Below is another strip of “four square, black-and-white mementos” from the old Flinders Street booth.

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Flinders Street, 12 May 1999

The Flinders Street Photobooth

by atrmws

In the end, it was a question of coins

More accurately the advent of the dollar

That big, shiny circle of happiness

Monumental in the palm, the simplest exchange

For four square, black-and-white mementos

A whirring, thinking, clinking something

Alan Adler was the photo-man, his trolleyful

Of cans, the charmer and his chemicals

Had coloured magic on his hands

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From the Flinders Street photobooth when it printed four shots to a strip. 29 March, 1996


This photo strip was previously published in the post Filling In Time, on the 11th of January 2012.

I will write more about the poem and where it came from in a later post.

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The Flinders Street photobooth where I have taken hundreds of photos over the last thirty years, the photobooth that I look forward to using everytime I need to be in Melbourne, the photobooth where I have had so much fun, the photobooth that looked like I’d never see again, (yeah, that booth) has been saved!

YAY!!!

I took 23 strips to celebrate. I look forward to sharing some of them with you soon.

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“Your lips touching mine in the photobooth.” A photo from my collection dating from the mid 1990s

My friend artist/musician Ted Giffin, who you might recall from this post and also from this one, recently published on his blog ‘Photobooth’ for Katherine. In the post he does a video cover of a Death Cab For Cutie song called Photobooth. Do pop on over and have a listen.  A big thank you to Ted!

Photobooth

I remember when the days were long
And the nights when the living room was on the lawn
Constant quarreling, the childish fits, and our clothes in a pile on the ottoman
All the slander and double-speak
Were only foolish attempts to show you did not mean
Anything but the blatant proof was your lips touching mine in the photobooth

And as the summer’s ending
The cool air will push your hard heart away
You were so condescending
And this is all that’s left
Scraping paper to document
I’ve packed a change of clothes and it’s time to move on

Cup your mouth to compress the sound
Skinny dipping with the kids from a nearby town
And everything that I said was true
As the flashes blinded us in the photobooth
Well, I lost track, and then those words were said
You took the wheel and you steered us into my bed
Soon we woke and I walked you home
And it was pretty clear that it was hardly love

And as the summer’s ending
The cool air will push your hard heart away
You were so condescending
And this is all that’s left
Scraping paper to document
I’ve packed a change of clothes and it’s time to move on

And as the summer’s ending
The cool air will push your hard heart away
You were so condescending
As the alcohol drained the days . . .

Ben Gibbard, Forbidden Love EP, Copyright 2000

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Above is teenage Jim Grey. Jim is from Down the Road, though not literally. That is the name of his blog where he writes about photography, cameras old and new, where he shares links to blog posts he has enjoyed in the previous week, and where he shares stories about his travels locally and around the world.

Some time ago he sent me scans of some photobooth images from a 1984 trip to Germany, and some other booth photos which he found when pulling out the first ones. It has taken me a lot longer than I intended, to share the scans with you.

So above is Jim in Germany. I think he looks like a young Clark Kent about to use the photobooth for his quick change into Superman. Yes, Superman does that! Well that is what he did in the Christopher Reeve movie of 1978. Besides, Jim just has to be Super as he likes photobooths, plus he went to the trouble of scanning his collection to send to me. Thanks Jim!

I will use Jim’s annotations to explain each strip.

Above – “Color shots of me in a photobooth in Krefeld, Germany, 20 July 1984 (I wrote the date on the back!) I had cut this strip apart, unfortunately, so I laid them on my scanner in order.”

I love the faces that Jim pulled, whilst keeping his shoulders and torso in virtually the same position throughout. These would make a great Gif! Below is Clark Kent/Superman in a booth.

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The Superman strip is a mock-up that is sold by Yourprops.com. I presume the copyright belongs to them. Thanks Yourprops!!

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Above – “More shots of me in another photobooth in Krefeld, Germany, also on the 20 July 1984. I held up a card and on the prints wrote “POLIZEI 503314 KREFELD” because I was trying for mug shots for a project I was doing. 503314 was the phone number of the family I was living with that summer. The last shot was of me wondering why the machine hadn’t taken the last shot yet.”

The deadly serious, authentic mugshot expressions in all these photos, are very cool. They are so serious that they have an unintentional comic edge to them.

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Above – “I was with some friends (Jim Ziegler and John Lodder) in Michigan City, Indiana, in the spring of 1985. We came upon a photobooth in a shopping mall. I think it cost a dollar. I had put in a maybe fifty cents when it started making images. Someone before me must have put in the rest of the dollar. That’s why this strip is what it is.”

And this is, so far, my favourite strip for the spontaneous, chaotic nature of each image. Jim has a very clear memory of how the chaos came about. It must have been a memorable day, with or without the photos.

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Above – ” Same place, same date, same people” as the previous photo strip. “This time my buddies and I were ready. I’m generally the one in the middle. John is the other bespectacled fellow. The other Jim is the one with no glasses.”

Unlike most modern, digital booths, you just never knew when the photos would be taken. Strange expressions, poor focus and lighting anomalies would abound, especially when three teenagers were let lose in one. I particularly like the third photo in this strip.

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And finally the polaroid, above. ” Right next to the traditional photobooth was a booth that took single Polaroid photographs for a dollar. So Jim, John, and I went in and hammed it up one more time. I have to say, this is the sharpest Polaroid photograph I’ve ever held in my hands.” I agree with Jim, and as a booth photo, it is very rare. As he says, the photo is sharp but also has a strong colour palette after all these years. It seems that this photo was meant for Jim to keep, as he certainly is the cheesy-grinned, star of the piece, as he is in most of this collection.

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Superman collecting his photos. I wish $0.75 photo booths still existed!

 

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From Germany. 1930s.

This gentleman has a touch of Oscar Wilde’s sartorial elegance. (See photo, below). The shirt he is wearing has a light grid pattern, possibly created by stitching on the fabric. His hat, hand-knotted bow-tie, stiff white shirt-collar and the velvet detail of his coat collar, speak of a man very aware of the image he wanted to project to the world. Like the photo in a previous post of a German gentleman of this era, he understands how to pose to convey style and class. The deep shadow cast by the brim of his hat gives him an air of gravitas and mystery. I think he is a thespian, so confident and calculated is his demeanour.

This photo is superb, as I look at it now. The tones are rich and defined. They are uninterrupted by the light flares and vertical lines you can see here.

I cannot tell you how disappointed I was to see the scan. I feel I need to apologise for the poor quality. I tried the photo on different resolutions, manually adjusted tint and brightness. I tried doing it sideways and upside-down in case there was a textured nap in the paper. I cleaned the photo with a soft cloth and delicate touch. I cleaned the scanner bed. Nothing helped. I also scanned another photo from 1930s Germany at the same time, with very good results.

Usually, when scanning photos of this era the resolution is astonishing, even when enlarged to two or three times the original size. But not for this photo and I cannot work out why. Perhaps it is just another secret of this man of mystery.

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Oscar Wilde by Napoleon Sarony

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