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.

I’m posting the back of one of the Ray “Parker” photo strips as Shayne from Captured and Exposed (a brilliant name for a photography blog that focuses on police mugshots!) is doing some research to see if she can find any information about him. I had a crisis of confidence about whether I had interpreted the handwriting correctly. I still see Parker but it could also be Porter, I suppose? What do you think?

Ray Parker 1981. He was probably aged 21 or 22.

These are the last two images I have of Ray. We have seen him develop and grow from babyhood to adulthood in 134 frames. Happily for me, you have taken him to your heart as much as I have.

Included in this large lot of photos was one three-photo strip of a middle aged lady, called Millee. (Below) Her name is written in the same hand writing that appears on the backs of most of the images of Ray as a teenager and adult. I have no doubt that these photos are definitely part of the family collection.

As no mother appears in any of these strips, perhaps Ray grew up without a mum? Whether through divorce or death or perhaps through a dislike of having her photo taken, she is an absent figure. So perhaps Millee was the important motherly figure in Ray’s life? There could be a resemblance to Ray in her features. She could be his mother, I suppose, but to me she looks rather too old to have been a mum to a 16 year old in 1975, when this photo was taken. She could possibly be an aunt or Ray’s grandmother? Perhaps a nanny or housekeeper to Ray’s father?

It is likely that we will never know the full story, but if someone who recognises Ray stumbles on this blog, you will be the first to know.

Millee 1975


September 1975, September 1975, Undated, Undated

Our little boy is growing up! I am guessing Raymond would have been around 16 in the first two strips. He is rapidly putting on weight as we see him age. Too many hamburgers and hot chips, eh Ray?

Undated, Undated, Undated, 6 Movember 1977

I don’t think this moustache suits him at all!

Could he really be only 18 or 19 in this 1977 photo? I think he must be. If he was around 18 months or even two years old in the very first photo in December 1961, then we could be reasonably certain he was born in 1959. To me he looks old for his age.

10 March 1978, 20 March 1978, 8 March 1979, 23 March 1979

So the mo is a no-no on its own but I do like the beard. Not sure about the quiff but that has never been a favourite of mine in men’s hairstyling.

14 July 1978, 6 August 1979, 6 August 1979, February 1981

Ugh, that mo is back, but not for long, as he goes all rock ‘n’ roll with those sunnies and then he turns 1950s country squire in the last strip!

I’m almost finished showing you the pictures I have of Ray. There is one more post to come. I love this series for the changes in his face over time but I have barely touched on what he is wearing or his expressions, which have their own stories to tell. I will leave that to you this time.

As with all the photos I buy, I wonder why they have escaped their homes and ended up for sale online. Individual photos are not such a mystery, as they were often given to relatives or traded with friends. Later generations could easily be left looking at dozens of photos of people they have never met or even heard of. Why not sell them off? But when a large series, like this, ends up alone in the world, I feel there must be a tragedy in their past. In the happiest of circumstances Ray should certainly still be alive and his dad would also have a reasonable chance to still be living. But if his father was the custodian of these images and then passed away, why did Ray not value them? Had he a falling out with his father, so wasn’t there when he died, and wasn’t involved in the tidying up of his estate? Did Ray die at a very young age, so when his father passed, there was no one close enough left to want the collection? So many questions!

I suppose there might be a tiny chance that someone who knew Ray Parker and his dad might stumble across these photos and be able to fill in the blanks. Lets hope so.

13 August 1966, 20 August 1966, 29 October 1966, 13 November 1966

I was thrilled with the comments the previous post received. I’m happy to be able to add more photos to this series, as wished for by Roberta M (please visit her blog) and others. This is the busiest phase of the series, with there being some photos as close together as a week, yet as far apart as almost five years.

11 March 1967, 8 April 1967, 13 May 1967, 3 June 1967

Ray is a cheeky, cutie, don’t you think? My favourite strip is the one, below, where he has had a fight with a lawn mower, yet is still happy to show off the results.

22 July 1967, 5 August 1967, 1 June 1968, 17 April 1973

This is the last time we see Ray’s father. He is still hiding there, in the background. Ray changes a lot in the last two strips, but why the long time between sittings? Were some photos lost? Perhaps, but one may surmise that around the age of eight, Ray had had enough of being photographed for his dad’s amusement and point blank refused to cooperate any longer. Or maybe they moved house and were no longer in close proximity to a booth? Whatever the case, with a leap in his growth and maturity, after five years, Ray restarted his father’s project alone.

%d bloggers like this: