Tag Archives: 1940s

I found this single photobooth image at the bottom of a box of photos at the closing down sale of a, much loved, local antique centre. It was $1.00 but I would’ve paid much, much more for it. Vintage Australian booth photos are rarer than hen’s teeth, even more so, one that is in such good condition.

There are so many lovely details here, from the sweet beaded necklace worn by one girl, to the rose shaped pendant (or perhaps brooch?) worn by the other. There is an arm affectionately draped over a shoulder, and a hand resting gently on another. Both of the girls have their hair swept to the side, from left to right. There are some typically Australian childhood freckles!

Yet, the loveliest thing for me is the unforced smiles on this pair. Looking directly into the lens with no artificial jollity or pulling of faces, these girls are so happy and comfortable in each other’s presence. Their faces exude friendship.

I marvel at the fact this photo was taken by an automatic camera. I doubt a photographer of long year’s experience could have taken a better portrait of youth. My guess is that it was made in the late 1930s to early 1940s.

I wish I knew the girls’ names and where this photo was taken, but as with so many of my photos, its origin is likely to remain a mystery.


With tousled curls, topped with an almost completely obscured ribbon, this simple, yet elegant young woman has made a superb self-portrait. Whether deliberate or accidental, there is something of a Hollywood professional portrait to this photo.

Her gently pursed lips are sensual and painted in a soft cupid bow. Her head is tilted gently backwards and her eyes are directed toward the camera lense. She is aware of the viewer but disregards us. It is as though she is looking past the camera, past the technology that will process her photo, through the back of the booth and beyond. She is looking past us to a beautiful, far off horizon of youthful hopes and dreams. I hope those dreams were fulfilled. I hope she was loved and cherished, more than this wee souvenir that somehow escaped its rightful home.

From the USA, the photo is undated, however her hairstyle, the padded shoulders of her jacket and dark matt lipstick suggest this was probably taken in the era of the Second World War or shortly afterwards.

This photobooth image was a gift from my friend Ted. Many thanks to him! Ted is also a blogger who loves photos, photography and photobooths. Through those mutual interests we have become firm friends. He regularly surprises me with cards and photos, some of which I have already shared here. Other images from him, and of him, I will share with you next year.




There is no information on the back of these photos to indicate a place, names or dates, despite the previous owner having gone to the trouble of numbering each photo. Why they should have been numbered 1, 2, 3 is unclear, as judging by the clothes of the boy who appears in all three shots, the images were taken on two different days.

I guess the boy who is mugging for the camera in the first photo is a brother of the guy in uniform. It is a shame he didn’t join in the face pulling. Maybe he liked his perfect look in his military duds too much to play the fool whilst wearing them. Or maybe he was too nervous to think of it, as he may well have been off on his first posting overseas.

I bought these photos as much for the background as for the fabulous, goofy faces. It was the first time I had seen a battleship in a backdrop. I have since found a few more, which I will share with you in coming posts.

I am guessing these images were made during WW2 as the military theme would have suited the many last souvenir photos that would have been made at that time.


My own piece of photobooth small town noir.

I don’t normally publicise books about mugshots on this blog but as a minor part of my collection, they hold a level of fascination for me in much the same way as photobooth photos.


For some time now, I have been an avid follower of Small Town Noir a mugshot blog by Diarmid Mogg. Since 2009, Diarmid has collected over 1,500 mugshots, all from the same small American town, New Castle, Pennsylvania. His collection is an extraordinary set of photographs covering the middle of the 20th century, from 1930 to 1960.

Meticulous research goes into each post which shows the original police mugshot, often accompanied by newspaper clippings, birth and death records plus details of the alleged crime. Anything that can be discovered about the life of the person beyond the day of their incarceration is also included. If you love to time travel through photographs, are interested in vernacular American history or just love a good yarn, this is a blog for you. Hopefully, very soon, it will be a book for you, too.

Diarmid has for a long time wanted to pursue a published hard copy edition of his work. He has teamed up with an innovative publishing company called Unbound, which uses a crowd funding model to


produce books by proving that there’s a demand for them before the publication process starts. Diarmid continues the story –

“We’ve worked together on a proposed outline for the book, which is exactly what I’d dreamed about: 150 full-page photographs on good paper, with 70,000 words of text; the pictures arranged chronologically from 1930 to 1960, so the passage of time is evident as you flick past changing hairstyles, fashions and types of photographic film stock; with the stories building up one after the other into a fractured portrait of a particular place and time that there’s really no other way to access.”

If enough people pledge to buy the book, he can do this, so please get behind this wonderful project by clicking on this link to make it happen:

My apologies for the last post which was accidentally sent due to my inexperience with using WordPress on my iPad. Hopefully now that I am back on my desk-top, I will be more successful.

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