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I bought this strip of photos from Ebay (of course!) but this one is sentimentally special because it was posted to me at my address in New York City, when I had an apartment there on Beekman Place. For two whole months I was a resident of that great city, with my own place, a gym membership, a favourite local diner and a cool local friend called Kelly.

These two are having a good laugh in what appears to be a relatively recent photobooth strip. I can only imagine how this ended up being sold online so soon after its creation. Was it one of those not-quite-perfect sets that ended up discarded on the ground, prey to someone like me, who loves a found photo?

Photobooths were invented by Anatol Josepho in 1925.  They were an immediate success in his adopted home of New York City. When he sold the invention in 1927 it rapidly spread across the USA and the world.  As early as 1929 advertisements like these were appearing in many newspapers around Australia. It is a surprise to me that the Photomaton company found its way here so quickly.

In the 1970s it took more than two years to get Doctor Who episodes to Oz, yet in the 1920s, this lumbering hunk of technology arrived in faster time. And faster time is what this machine promises. Six perfect portraits, six different poses, in six minutes.  In the days when most photographers were struggling to get photos back to clients within one week, to wait only six minutes was nothing short of miraculous.

“If you are one of those people who do not take a good photograph, try the Photomaton way. They are natural and lifelike and they do not fade.” I can attest to that. Having numerous photobooth examples from the 20s and 30s which have lasted better than family photos from the 1980s, this was no idle boast.

This advertisement, for booths at two Woolworths stores in Brisbane, was published in the Brisbane Courier, on the 9th of October 1929.

My apologies for the poor quality of the image, which was taken directly from the Trove online resources website, of the Australian National Library.

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