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The interest that the threatened removal of the Flinders Street photobooth generated, has turned owner, Alan Adler, into a minor celebrity. It is a celebrity he could have done without. I can’t imagine what he went through, with the worry of the proposed abrupt cessation of his business, hanging over him for two weeks.

For those Melbournians dedicated to “dip and dunk” chemical photobooths, Alan has always been a much loved figure in our city. Selfishly, I love seeing him getting some public recognition for his work. A couple of days ago The Guardian did a picture essay about him. You can find it here.

 

In January last year the administration at Flinders Street station intended to have my favourite photobooth permanently removed from its location on Flinders Street. A booth has been at the station for 44 years. Due to the hard work of some students from Melbourne University, and others, a campaign to save the booth was launched and for some 16 months was successful.

Unfortunately the threat has reemerged, as you can see from the notes the owner, Alan, has placed on the booth. There is a new Facebook group called SAVE THE FLINDERS STREET PHOTO BOOTH. The women who have started this group have spoken with Alan and they tell me that it is not his decision to close down the booth. I hope you can all join to help swell the numbers in order to make our displeasure felt and save the booth.

I apologise to the many people who have left comments on this blog or replied to comments I have made on other blogs, that remain unanswered. My health isn’t too great at the moment. I will get back to everyone as soon as I can.

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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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Above is the photobooth where the majority of my recent booth pics have been taken. I take multiple strips each time I visit, as due to my health, I am never sure when I will be able to make it there again. It is a place for me to be creative, a place where I love to play.

In 2011 Lindy Percival of The Age newspaper wrote a piece about this booth and the owner Alan Adler. In the article, Alan could not see a bright future for his business. The photographic paper was getting harder to source and he was scaling things back due to his advancing years.

For some years after the article was published, every time I’d go to the centre of Melbourne, I would hold my breath as I turned into Flinders Street. Will the booth still be there, I’d wonder? At one point, I had a gut wrenching moment when the booth was not in its usual position. That was quickly over, as a photobooth-enthusiast ticket inspector directed me to the new location. Gradually I forgot about the probably looming disappearance of this and Alan’s other booth in Chapel Street, South Yarra.

Most of my excursions to town are as a result of appointments to see specialist doctors. Having an appointment on Monday, Saturday saw me thinking about what props I might take with me for the trip to the booth and how I might use those props. Later that day, I received a comment on this blog that the booth was going to be removed on Sunday. Noooooooo!!!!!!

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I googled the information to see if I could find any news reports about the booth’s imminent demise. Nothing. I tried Facebook and other social media. Nothing. How could I find out if the story was true? I messaged people who would be in the know. Nothing. Then I received confirmation that a friend’s daughter had also heard about the removal. There was nothing for it. I needed to get into the city pronto. There was no way I was well enough to make the trip there and back twice in two days, so I leaped onto Trivago in the hope that I could find a cheap hotel in which to spend Sunday night. Nothing I could afford came up, so thwarted in that plan, I decided to just hope for the best that it might still be in situ on Monday morning.

And lo and behold, when I turned into Flinders Street, there it still was, in all its dishevelled glory! My heart leapt, as subsequently did my collection of booth strips.

And yet the plot thickens. While waiting for my final strip to emerge, I was taken by a very elegant and superbly rendered tattoo of David Bowie on the calf of a young woman. As it turned out, she was waiting for a friend near the booth. I mentioned my last post on this blog about Marco Ferrari and his tattoo photos, as I thought it might interest her. As we chatted I mentioned the removal rumour. She knew all about it! Yes, the booth had been scheduled for removal on Sunday. Apparently it is not the shortage of paper or the looming retirement of the owner that were at issue. It is the station management that want the booth removed. I say “damn your eyes”* to those anonymous corporate destroyers of a much loved Melbourne icon!

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My new companion knew even more. Apparently the booth has had a temporary reprieve until the end of this month. There is also a campaign to lobby for a permanent stay of execution. Unfortunately, it was a hot afternoon, I felt woeful and I was fretting about leaving the city before peak hour, so I forgot to ask who was organising the campaign and if there was anything I could do to help. Duh, double duh! I am a failure as a knight in shining armour for my beloved booth!!

Now, I am hoping that this post might be seen by the elegantly tattooed bearer of the news. I gave her my card, (Yes, I have a card for this blog. I’m obsessed, remember?) and she said she would check it out. Any comments from anyone who knows more about the Save Our Flinders Street Photobooth Campaign would be very, very welcome.

*A favourite quote from Young Frankenstein. God bless Marty Feldman, Peter Boyle and Gene Wilder.

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