Tag Archives: chemical photobooth

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photoboothDad&PatFrontCyrilAstor photoboothDad&PatInsideCyrilAstor

Cyril Astor ran a photography business that was exclusively dedicated to photobooths. In partnership with a Mr Leach, Cyril hired out booths to tourist venues and special events,as well as having a number of booths in permanent locations. The business no longer exists but was located on Cefndy Road Industrial Estate in Rhyl in the county of Denbighshire in North Wales. Rhyl is a seaside resort town and an ideal place for booths that supported the local tourist industry.


Inscribed on the back “To Mother From Edwin”

I was unable to find a record of when the business started but his booths were used at the Cardiff venue for the Festival of Britain in 1951, so the business was in operation at that time. In 1972 the business still existed when Irish lass, 20 year old Patsy Furber worked there. I am very grateful to Patsy for her help in my research for this post.

Patsy has shared some of her personal memories of Cyril’s business with me –

“The managing director was a Mr. Leach, the manager was Gwyn. Mr. Leach’s secretary was Cathy and the telephonist and office worker was Nerys. I was a shorthand typist and part of my job was to type order forms for the chemicals they needed for the booths.

I liked working for Cyril Astor’s business in the beginning but left with extremely bad feelings. I come from Belfast, Ireland and I am afraid I fell foul of political bullying caused by misinformation given by the Special Branch Police in Wales.

I really did enjoy myself at Astors but felt it very unfortunate that things turned out the way they did.  Unfortunately, it was the political atmosphere at the time. It was a thing a good many Irish in Britain had to endure….”

Mr Astor had booths in Margate (UK), Ramsgate (UK) and Rhyl in Wales. One of the prime spots for his booths was on the ‘Great Orme’ in Llandudno in Wales. Without Patsy’s help, it was difficult to find information about Cyril’s business but I did find that he was an exhibitor at a trade fair at Alexandra Palace which was advertised in Billboard magazine on the 26 November, 1966. Presumably this event promoted his booths for hire.

photoboothCyrilAstor copy

In addition to being a photographer, Cyril was an inventor. He made a patent application in 1966. The Patent Index says that he applied for patents to make improvements to the Photomaton machine in the early 1960s.

“Abstract of GB962798 962,798. Rollerways. CYRIL ASTOR PHOTOMATON (LONDON) Ltd. March 2, 1962 [Dec. 16, 1960], No. 43458/60. Heading B8A. [Also in Division G2] Film is conveyed through a processing tank by a plurality of vertically-spaced sets of rollers, each set being individual…”

On the back of each of the cardboard photo frames it says, “Photographer: Cyril Astor. You can obtain three beautiful postcard sized enlargements by sending this photograph with name and address to Cyril Astor, 28, North Drive, Rhyl, North Wales. Together with postal order valued 5/-. It is never too late to send and you get this photo back.”  Of course it is too late now, despite the claim, but it does make me think there could be some fabulous photobooth postcard gems out there to be discovered!



Printed on the backs of the father and daughter pair (above) is Cyril’s standard advertisement.


photoboothCyrilAstorRamsgateFront photoboothCyrilAstorRamsgateBack



The International Photobooth Convention presented by premier photobooth website, will be held at A&A Studios in Chicago soon. It runs from , June 6-8, 2014.

Organisers for this year’s convention include Tim Garrett, Brian Meacham, Anthony Vizzari and Meags Fitzgerald, whose new book I recently reviewed.

Details of the programme are below. There’s a good balance of events for photobooth artists, technicians, vintage photo collectors and for the general public. All are welcome to attend. It kills me that I won’t be there!!!



A happy, private moment of shared friendship…


…interruptions will not be tolerated.

What a face! What happened to cause this look of utter disdain? Obviously some stupid grown-up was trying to interfere!

These two standard sized photobooth photos came from the USA and are undated. They look to me to be from the 1930s. Photographically they are not the best quality that a booth of this era was able to produce, but the sweetness and comedy of this pair of snaps make them a highly prized addition to my collection.

I had coffee yesterday with one of my university lecturers, Bronwyn who is a glass artist and art historian. We have only recently discovered that we live in adjacent

villages on the Mornington Peninsula. In discussing our creative pursuits photobooths came up, of course. As a glass artist Bronwyn was thinking of hopping into a chemical black and white booth to pose with a sheet of glass, in very much the same way I did in this first of a digital series, started in May this year.

After exclaiming about the coincidence of us both having the same idea, I tried to persuade her that my writing a post about her example, is a very fine idea indeed. I hope to be able to present her interpretation of the concept at some point in the near future.

Through Näkki Goranin’s Facebook page, I found Fotoautomatica a photobooth company in Italy. They very kindly sent me this wonderful strip of photobooth photos. You can find their page on Facebook at They have posted lots of photo strips from chemical booths and images of many old booths. I am guessing that hiring out photobooths is their business but as I don’t read Italian, I am only guessing.


April 1962

December 1962


Some years ago I bought a group of booth strips of the same woman.  The photos were from France.  I thought they were a brilliant find, showing the same lady through two relationships and many different fashionable hairstyles of the 1960s.  In the images of her alone, I imagine her popping into a booth on the way home from her hairdresser to record the newest “do”.  Above are four of the 14 strips.  Only seven of the group are dated.  There is no indication as to the place they were taken on any of them.  As with most of my collection, I feel a certain proprietary relationship with each sitter, especially if I have more than one  photo covering a period of time.  Thus I was delighted when my lovely lady came into my life again earlier this year, in a most surprising way, of which I will tell you more in a later post.

March 1968

Chronologically, this is the next of the dated booth photos of the series of 14 of my lovely French lady. This strip was cut, as you can see.  I especially love this photo as my sister was born in the same month and year.  Why does that make any difference?  I suppose I enjoy seeing what else was going on in another private world at a significant time in the life of my family, similarities and differences, another incarnation of the period. I am amused by the fact that at around the same era, my mum had a furry hat very similar to the one worn above and she was also fond of the same type of fashionable silk scarf.

Two hundred and twenty five dollars!  This is a standard sized photobooth picture, 40 x 50 mm. It has “some residual glue or sticky substance” on the right side, with wear to the edges. Even as an avid collector I can’t figure out why someone was prepared to pay so much for one little, “distressed” photo. Will I be posting another record price soon?  Who knows? The market is certainly hot at the moment.



These are the last two strips of dated photos from my mysterious, beautiful French lady.  Looking glamourous in her pearls and just as chic in her more casual stripes, she is the image of a 1960s conservative yet fashionable young thing. There are eight strips of undated images to come soon.

Although I didn’t manage to get my Mum and Dad into a photobooth in London, they promised to keep an eye out for a booth on their travels.  They posted this to me when they returned to Australia.  It cracked me up. I love Dad’s stunned mullet look and the action of his leaving the booth before the last shot was taken. It still makes me smile. Mum is looking joyous: she was very excited by her European travel adventure.

This pic was taken in Switzerland in May 1994.  My Mum had never left Australia before and it was only my Dad’s second overseas trip, having come over to London for the first time in 1989 to nurse me after I was discharged from Hither Green Hospital .

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