Tag Archives: Photo booth

This 110 x 80 mm photobooth image is probably an enlargement from a standard sized smaller original. Photobooth machines were originally to be found in photographic studios that offered extra services such as framing, hand colouring and enlarging of your strip of pictures.

Being only 6 1/2 years old I imagine Robert Richard Rotowski’s hat was worn only for the sake of this photo. However, given that it fits so well and he is generally so finely dressed, it may have been a hat he wore regularly. I have another hand coloured image of another boy wearing the same type of hat, from the same era. Maybe it was the fashion for kids to dress like their da’s back then?

If anyone can tell me the name of this type of hat, I’d be grateful! Is it a homburg, a trilby or something else?

This is a re-blog of part of a post written by Joel Rotenberg* for House of Mirth, a blog run by Stacy Waldman. Please check out this wonderful vintage photography site.

“Mark Glovsky** pointed out to me that nudity is oddly rare in photobooth portraits, and he is absolutely right. This is the only example I have. I think it’s pretty recent, so maybe it doesn’t even count.

Where is all the photobooth nudity? By rights it should be common. People had every reason to believe they would be the only ones who ever saw what they did in the booths; in this respect photobooths are like Polaroids, which aren’t processed by a lab and—for that very reason, I’ve always thought—are full of sex and nudity. And if you were a certain kind of person, wouldn’t you take the curtained-off booth as a dare?”

I agree with Joel that it is strange that there are not more extant nude photobooth photos. The likely scenario in my mind is that they were/are taken in abundance but discarded by embarrassed relatives, if discovered after the sitter’s demise or destroyed by the sitter themself, upon later reflection.

I have a fabulous male nude photobooth strip that I found at Euston Station in London about 20 years ago. It is more out-there than just nude and so I have not had the courage to publish it on my blog. I have already shared it privately with two other bloggers. One reply was a vetoe and I am hoping to get another opinion soon…

There are no details given about the location or date for this photo. I do love the expression on both of their faces.

*Joel Rotenberg is a writer and collector of vintage photographs.  ** Mark Glovsky is a dealer in vintage photographs in the USA.

27 July 1997, Luna Park, Melbourne

Rosie, the daughter of my friends Del and Linds of London, came to visit me in Australia just before her 17th birthday.

Adjectives to describe Ros –

  • beautiful
  • intelligent
  • sensitive
  • compassionate
  • quirky
  • funny
  • articulate
  • exasperating
  • loveable
  • gorgeous
  • messy
  • loyal
  • messy
  • adorable
  • messy

With reference to the repeated appearance of the word messy to describe my adopted sister, I was still finding jelly tots in odd places in the room in which Rosie slept, three months after her departure.

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

Original size

There are many of these unusual format photos listed online as photobooth photos but I am still unsure as to whether that description is entirely correct. I cannot imagine an automatic photobooth this size. On page 125 of  Näkki Goranin’s book American Photobooth, there is an example of this type of photo illustrated, leading me to believe that they must have existed somewhere, at sometime. However, I can find no mention of this type of booth in the text of the book.

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This blithe young man looks to me to be around 15 to 16 years old. Do you think it is one of the first times he was let off the leash by his parents?  The cheeky look on his face in both pictures, but particularly in the pose with the cigarette, suggests, YES!  Were these taken to impress a girlfriend, show off to his mates or as an accidental souvenir of his right of passage to adulthood? Whatever the case they were someone’s memento for many decades. Despite being faded, tarnished and stained, the photos radiate youthful joie de vivre some 74 years after they were taken. I can still feel his glee.

From what I have been able to discover, there were many Pennyland centres around the US and Canada offering a large selection of games and coin operated machines to amuse all ages. I think some were stand alone places but more generally they were part of a larger amusement park. The Pennyland where the above photos were taken has long since disappeared, as I can find no reference to it online. Any helpful information from out there would be most welcome!

Entrance to the Pennyland Arcade at the Glen Echo (Maryland) Amusement Park, 1928.

View of the Pennyland Arcade at 131 Royal Street, New Orleans. Date unknown.

13 July 1996, St Kilda, Melbourne

Yet another group of pictures from my favourite photobooth at Luna Park, which continues my chronological photobooth series.

This is me and a friend with her child. She initially gave me permission to use the image on the blog but then changed her mind, so I pixilated the faces to keep her happy.

I quite like the mystery of this image. It has the feel of a missing person or wanted poster. It is slightly melancholic and sad.


This little girl’s name is Arline Michlinger. The above photos were taken in the USA on the 10th of January 1938 (top row) and on the 21st of January (bottom row). At the time, Shirley Temple, probably still the most recognisable child star of all time, was at the height of her fame.

There is something about the practiced poses of this young lady that suggests to me that her mother may have had ambitions for her daughter to be a baby star like Shirley.  The pose with hands clasped under the chin is very reminiscent of Shirley (see photo below), as is the one with the cheeky sideways glance.

Here is the same little girl posing with her mama, who is as equally relaxed in front of the camera as her daughter.  They were also taken in 1938, but on the 25th of May. These are the first hand coloured photobooth photos I have bought where there are multiple shots, from the same session, where the clothing colours have not been consistent. I had previously assumed that the colours in the photos represented the true colour of the clothing which was worn on the day.

Shirley Temple

So far on this blog I have not revealed the actual dimensions of any of the photos I have posted. I suppose I have assumed that either it was irrelevant, or that people generally know how big a photobooth photo is.  There is actually a considerable variation in sizes. Different types of booths produced different finishes, dimensions and formats of strips.

This pic, measuring 37 x 50 mm, is by no means the smallest type of booth photo around but it is small enough to lose a lot of the details of its condition without the magnification a good scan provides. Until scanned, this image looked to have a very minor mark across it but as you can see, what is minor in the original, is major in the blown-up version. I toyed with the idea of using a gel rubber to try to gently remove what appears to be a pencil line, but decided against it for fear of ruining the image.

From the costume and jewellery the sitter is wearing I would say this photo was taken in the early 1930s. The style of clothing is very similar to that worn by my Grandma in the same era. In fact this lady’s robust size is also reminiscent of my granny, who was a cuddly lady her whole life. The sitter also has a softness of feature and air of patience and kindness about her that I find very appealing. So having formed a strongly positive opinion of this woman, it was with some horror I read the note on the back of the image – “this is no relation of ours, thank god”. I take personal offence at this disparaging remark and wish to redeem the reputation of this lovely woman by saying I would be very pleased to be related to her. I thank god I am not related to the writer of that mean-spirited little note.

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