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26 May 2003, Montreal, Canada

I was in Montreal for a conference that my then-husband was attending. This is Donna who I met for the first time at that conference. We got on fabulously and stayed friends for a number of years until we, sadly, lost touch.

This strip of photos comes from my series Photobooth 47 Year Project. The complete set of posts to date, can be seen in reverse order at the link Photobooth 45 Year Project (Archive) under the Categories heading in the side bar, on the right of this post.

For those of you who are new subscribers or visitors to this blog, UK artist Dick Jewell made a video using photos from this project in 2012. It can be seen on Vimeo here.

 

Germany 1930s

The way they have parted their hair, the short back and sides cuts, and the style of their Black Tie formal wear, puts these dapper gentlemen and this photo firmly in the 1930s. They remind me of the gorgeous, super talented dancer of that era Mr Frederick Austerlitz. (See photo, below)

The expression on the gentleman on the left’s face suggests to me that these two may not have been purely friends. His gaze, plus his lips pursed in a gentle and knowing smile, suggest deep familiarity with and a strong admiration of his companion. His friend’s attention is occupied by someone else outside of the booth, but his closeness to his partner is evidenced in his relaxed demeanor in the confined space of the booth.

As occasionally happened in the USA at this time, this booth was probably in the foyer of a dance venue or club of some kind. If the gentlemen looked this smart one can only imagine how wonderful the gowns and jewellery of the ladies might have been. The dance floor must’ve been a riot of moving colours and spangles!

What happened to these two during WW2? Were they in thrall to the machinations of Nazi Germany or victims of it? I hope they escaped the worst of it and lived long and prosperous lives.

Mr Frederick Austerlitz, better known as Fred Astaire.

1970s USA

Here we see two best friends in a photobooth having a fabulous time together. Their closeness is undeniable. In the second and third photos, the girl at the back cuddles her friend, who reacts with a spontaneous burst of dimpled joy.

The marker pen scrawlings of graffiti on the background curtain add something to the feeling of time and place of the strip. It suggests that this booth was in an unpatolled public area, somewhere like a railway, subway or bus station. Department store, bowling alley or night club booths never get this shoddy treatment.

Why, oh why, is this photo in my collection here in Australia? Why is it not being treasured by one of the girls or at the very least a member of their family?

Maybe there are some visible clues as to what happened? The strip was folded twice at the end of each photo, to make it easier to slip into a purse or handbag. That tells me that the photo was valued enough on the day it was made, for the owner to want to be sure it arrived home unscathed.

On the back, there are remnants of the sticky residue that is left from those dreadful, photo-destroying, self-stick albums of the 1970s. That suggests that the value of the images extended well beyond the day they were made.

There is a crease across the bottom of the strip. How could that have happened? If the girls had had a falling out, the owner of the strip would most likely have torn it up or thrown it out, not just randomly bent one edge. Could the crease be accidental and have happened when the album was being looked through? Those self-stick albums age in one of two ways. Either the photos are permanently fastened to the pages (oh, the horror!) or they slide out and end up all over the place. Some might fall on the floor or table. Others might be tucked carelessly back inside where they could easily be squashed and buckled.

Or could the strip have fallen on the floor and been used as a bookmark, until such time as it was replaced in the old album or a newer one? In that case it could so easily have been forgotten. Books tend to be given away or sold more often than other household items. I have been given some photobooth photos by a friend who found them while browsing in a charity shop, so that is my preferred theory. It consoles me to think that they were accidentally parted from the owner, not deliberately sold off due to apathy or avarice.

I’m sure you have heard such theories from me before. I hope anyone who reads this post, treasures their family memories and treats them with the love and respect they deserve. No more orphaned photos please!

jimgreyscan1

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.

photoboothsuperyourprops-com

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

jimgreyscan2

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.

jimgreyscan3

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.

jimgreyscan4

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.

jimgreyscan5

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.

superman_still

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

 

While I have been bemoaning the probable loss of a photobooth, my friend Ted has found one for me. In the strip he appears with his granddaughter Ula Grace.

Thanks for the pics Ted, and for all the friendship and the support you give me. X X

TedBook's DAILY PICS...

img_8902 Guest Photographer: Ula Grace

Always on the lookout for a Photo Booth and found one at Pacific Place in Seattle.  Had to get a strip for my friend Katherine Griffiths, Downunder in Oz, who is obsessed with Photobooths and writes a delightful blog about her finds.  Do pay a visit to…  Photobooth Journal

img_8899          photobooth-seattle-xmas-16

Merry Christmas, Katie!

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photoboothSerbiansParis

I purchased this half strip of photobooth photos from an online seller based in Serbia. On the back is written Paris 17.12.66.

I was particularly attracted to this strip due to the broad, mirthful smiles on all three sitters but particularly by the  lady on the left’s expressions. I love the way her glance moves towards her friend in the second shot. There is something so cheeky and appealing in her two poses. I love her!

Once again, I also find some sadness in the fact that these photos have been lost to their owner. Death, broken relationships or accidental loss could account for it. The vicissitudes of life sadly toss us about and of course, it is no different for photos.

donnaJayPart9

Undated. Possibly 1972 or 1973 “Me and Jay”

Above is the last of the photos of Donna in a photobooth with a friend. This time we have Jay, who could be another of Donna’s boyfriends. To me, they seem more like good pals. If a boyfriend, it is unusual that they are not kissing, given her love of a smooch in a booth.

Below we have the last of Donna’s friends or perhaps relatives. The way the notes on the back of each picture are written, makes it unclear whether this girl is named Sister, or if she calls Donna Sister as a nickname or is in fact her actual sister.

The writing on the back is also the only indication in all of the photos, of our blond beauty’s name. As they all came from the same album, I felt it reasonable to assume the notes were addressed to the owner of the album. The person most frequently featured, who is referred to as me in many of them, being the most obvious candidate as the owner.

DonnaSister1973-Part9

Top image. 1973 – “To one of my best friends. Stay the way you are Sister” Bottom Image. 1973 – “To Donna, A re… fr.. your friend always Sister”

Donna is photographed with many boyfriends and girlfriends over a period of 4 years from 1969 to 1973 in this series of photobooth photos. It has been a long time since I started these posts, so if you’d like to review the previous photos, please click here.

 

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