Tag Archives: Photo booth

Cheryl and Ted

One of the more exciting, and for me, unexpected aspects of being a blogger is the amount of enthusiasm and generosity that comes to my inbox out of the blue and from all around the world. I have recently started following a blog by Ted Strutz of Friday Harbor, Washington State in the San Juan IslandsUSA. The blog is called TedBook and has some very amusing conversational short stories that I encourage you to check out. Ted emailed me the above photos and the following history a couple of days ago –

When I lived in Chicago in the 80’s and early 90’s, there was a bar called the Rainbow Club.  It was quite large with a big horseshoe shaped bar, booths, tables and a stage, maybe a dance floor.  They played 33 LPs on a phonograph.  Kind of an artsy place.  There was a photo booth as well.  It was very popular, and I would imagine they made almost as much money off that thing as the booze.  I think it was a buck.  I’m sure they have quite a few strips that were left behind.  It was a lot of fun.  Of course that was one of the first places we took out of town visitors.

Anyway… I guess it was 1988 or so when an old girlfriend came from Sacramento to Chicago to visit me.  I had been there for two years, and although she was ‘the one who got away’ we had stayed friends.  I took her to the Rainbow Club, as it was close to the Wicker Park neighborhood where I lived and a fun place to go.  My daughter and her friends hung out there a lot, and that’s how I was introduced to the place.  I didn’t go there that often, except when people came to visit so we could do the photo booth. It is interesting to look at people in these strips and how they react to what the other person in the booth does.  It’s kind of a mini play sometimes.

We had a good time on her visit, and I eventually introduced her to a friend in Sacramento who she would later marry.  They had two kids and are still married.  I was a good matchmaker.  Interesting to note there are two backgrounds… one with photo strips, it looks like, maybe to show people how to use it, and a curtain. My other strips all have the curtain. I would say that the first one we did is the one without the curtain.  For that reason, and in the first photo Cheryl is posing with her reflection as it was the first thing she saw.  She always did ‘duck lips’ when looking in a mirror and my two tiny daughters would copy her when looking in a mirror.  They still laugh and talk about her when they do it now. The bottom of one of the strips has the corner torn off.  Those were fun times.

When I saw your blog, it reminded me of that time and I went and found them.  I have 7 of them and a strip of my daughters when they were little kids… they are in their 40’s now.  The last time I was in a photo booth, was with my mother about 5 years ago shortly before she died at 90.  We had gone to the movies and she wanted to do it so she would have a picture of us two together.

Thanks so much, Ted, for sharing your photobooth memories and your photos. Thanks to Cheryl, too.


I recently did a post about Meg from De Quelle Planète Est-Tu? and her love of photobooths. Through her I found another photobooth enthusiast in Paris who has blogged a list and map of locations of booths in that famous city.

The strip, above, is from her post You’re on (not so) Candid Camera! which is where you will find all the details.

Thank you to Sylvia for permission to use her images.



6 November 1997, Melbourne

I am never sure whether to count this type of booth photo as part of my chronological series as it isn’t of the same aesthetic and detail of the photos from the wonderful chemical booths. However as the old-time booths are more and more rare, and digital booths are easier to get access to, I decided to add this to the group as an early example of where booth photos were heading at this time.

This strip is part of the series Photobooth 41 Year Project. You can see all the posts that document the series by clicking here.

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?

When I published this animation the other day, the movie was static until clicked. That opened a link to another page where the gif played and the image was very large. Apparently the size of the original files was the issue.

Thanks to Lemuel from the blog History Geek for telling me why it wouldn’t play automatically and for telling me how to fix the problem. If you are reading this blog you will likely find a lot to interest you at History Geek, so check it out here.

When I published this strip of photos the other day, the response was very positive. More than one comment suggested the photos would look good as a mini-movie, aka a gif animation. I don’t have the software to do it myself, so I used a free gif-maker web page. I like the result but more experiments with other, longer series of photos might give me more of that mini-movie look I’ve seen elsewhere.

The lady on the left seems more familiar with the photobooth process than her friend, who appears to be struggling with where to look and how to pose. In the last frame the realisation of the absurdity of her cluelessness takes full effect in an outburst of mutual laughter, making a delightful record of shared experience and friendship.

The quality of this strip isn’t great. It has either been left exposed to direct sunlight for an extended period or was not washed properly in the machine during processing. This item came from the USA and appears to date from the 1950s

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