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This strip is another gift from my friend Ted in the USA. Since we met through our respective blogs, Ted has been very generous in his gifts of unique and interesting booth images. I’m so grateful to him and feel a flutter of joy each time I pull out the things he has given me.

Using the clothes and hairstyles as my guide, I would guess these images date to the late 1930s or early 1940s. It is quite unusual to find a strip from this era that has not been cut into individual frames. In the early years after its invention, photobooth machines were mostly situated in shops that offered other photobooth related photography services, such as enlargements, duplicates and framing. The machines were operated by an attendant who directed the poses. Once the photos were developed and dry, they were cut and placed in an envelope for presentation to the customer. There were eight photos to a strip.

You can see that these images have been taken with the help of an operator. There is none of the random squashing-in you see in later photos when the booths were unattended. The three ladies have been carefully directed to their respective positions allowing for no part of their faces to be obscured. In the first two frames the direction was to look left, the next to look right and the final one to look ahead. Whether or not they followed the instructions is another matter! I love the subtlety of the changes in each image, particularly in the eyes. They give the pictures a lovely gentle, and warm atmosphere.

There are some lovely details in the clothing and accessories worn by these three women. The woman on the right has a magnificent brooch in the form of a butterfly or bird wings at her throat. The huge buttons on her jacket look metallic in their shine. Maybe they have a gilt finish? The lady on the left is also wearing a lovely piece of jewellery in the form of a large sparkling pendant along with a matching sparkling hair clip. The ruffled collar of the lady who is sitting in the middle could be hiding some more jewels.

Below are some links to other posts that feature photos of Ted or relate to Ted in some way. Enjoy!

My Friend Ted

Two Old Birds In A Photobooth – A short story by Ted Strutz

Ted’s Photobooth Story – A real life photobooth tale

Three-Time Academy Award Winner In A Photobooth – Another strip from Ted

Last year Tony Lamont, of the fascinating blog XrayPics, very kindly sent me three wonderful photobooth strips, all of which were taken at a Reading Cinemas digital photobooth. As well as being a consultant radiologist, Tony has two unusual hobbies. He creates artworks using anonymous x-rays as his source material and he performs Punch and Judy shows at festivals around Australia. For his performances he made all of the ten puppets including the clothing and the puppet booth. Tony tells us more about his work –

My latest puppet is more of a small doll, an image of Donald Trump who appears in the show and gets thrown off the stage into the toilet by the runcible Mr Punch. The audience claps every time. Meanwhile I am building a set of six puppets, for the “three little pigs”, I want to do the show in Italian for schools; I Tre Porcellini. I also have concept plans for a couple of tiny dancers which can be used for close-up pavement entertainment. These last are doing my head in! But my love will always be with Mr Punch and his lovely wife Judy. 

One day I will bring Punch and Judy down to Melbourne, and you will have to come to see us.

I hope when Tony is in Melbourne I will be able to tempt him and his puppet friends into my favourite 1970s dip and dunk photobooth at Flinders Street Station.

You can see that Tony is highly skilled with his puppetry just by the expressiveness of these photos. I do find it fun that Tony’s performances are in the confined space of a booth, as are mine.  That is if you think of what I’ve been doing in my photobooth photos as performances!

I love these quirky and funny strips. I feel very privileged to have them in my collection. Please scroll down to see more photobooth photos and some of Tony with his booth theatre.

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!

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Sometimes I am lucky enough to find a large, mixed lot of photobooth photos at a reasonable price. Along with dirty, scratched, bent, taped, torn or peeling photos, there will be those in pristine condition. However sometimes the condition just doesn’t matter.

All of these photos have suffered from poor handling and all being relatively new, are not sort after by the “serious” collector. I don’t give a rat’s fart about that! I love the joy and craziness exhibited in each and every one of them. I hope you do, too.

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All the photos come from a country that is great, always has been great and doesn’t need to be “made great again”, the United States of America.

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