North American Photographer Louie Despres (above) has a number of wonderful photo projects on his website, which you can find here. I particularly love The Believers, and Vanity I – Bathrooms, but of course my favourite just has to be Vanity II – Photobooths.
One of my earliest memories is having my picture taken in a photobooth with my brother and sister when I was probably 3 years old. I marveled at the machine which flashed 4 times as you sat there in front of a darkened screen, then the humming sound of the unseen mechanics working inside the box, and, finally, the magic of the wet strip of four pictures delivered in the silver slot on the side. Suddenly, there YOU were, in beautiful black and white.
Please take a look at Louie’s collection. In addition to his self-portraits, like me, Louie is a collector. At the moment he has a project where he is asking for submissions of photobooth strips from around the world. If you would like to contribute, you can contact Louie through his website or Facebook.
Below is the strip I sent to Louie.
In my previous post, I published a gift from Brian from Equinoxio, today’s photo was a gift from Shayne of Captured and Exposed blog. As I’ve said before, the generosity of the blogging community never ceases to amaze me. Thank you to Shayne, Brian, Ted and others for their kindness in finding and sending me wee treasures.
I’m probably just getting old but Bobby here, looks way too young to be in uniform, especially during wartime. His name is written in ink on the back of the photo and lightly in pencil, someone has added WW2. He is a sweet looking young man with those heavy lidded eyes and slightly crooked front teeth.
His expression is somewhat bemused, as though he barely knows how he ended up in uniform. He could easily be as young as 18. How do we, as a community, still allow children to make the life and death decision to go to war? Is it truly an informed decision if it is made before the consequences of which, could possibly be fully conceived? We now know that brains are not fully developed until the age of 25, yet we still send our young men and women into conflict zones at much younger ages. And then, at least as far as the UK, Australia and the US go, we don’t properly look after their needs on their return home.
Bobby has unleashed some powerful emotions for me. I do hope he returned home after his tour in one piece, both physically and emotionally.
This two image strip of photos was purchased for me as a gift from a marché aux puces, south of Paris. Brian of Equinoxio blog, very kindly sent me this, and several other portraits, in August last year. Three sets came from photobooths, some were small studio photos and some were from a Polyfoto studio.
I chose to share these first as the reflection in this gentleman’s very groovy glasses, is so pronounced you can see some of the details of the booth’s interior. I’ve never seen that before. The reflection is likely the instructions on how to operate the booth, but I’m guessing, for the details are indistinct.
I would say that these pics were taken in the 1960s as my dad used to wear very similar glasses and ties in that era. I’d like to think this man was a writer, solely because I think one of these photos would’ve made a fabulous author’s portrait for the dust jacket of a novel.
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.
I found this single photobooth image at the bottom of a box of photos at the closing down sale of a, much loved, local antique centre. It was $1.00 but I would’ve paid much, much more for it. Vintage Australian booth photos are rarer than hen’s teeth, even more so, one that is in such good condition.
There are so many lovely details here, from the sweet beaded necklace worn by one girl, to the rose shaped pendant (or perhaps brooch?) worn by the other. There is an arm affectionately draped over a shoulder, and a hand resting gently on another. Both of the girls have their hair swept to the side, from left to right. There are some typically Australian childhood freckles!
Yet, the loveliest thing for me is the unforced smiles on this pair. Looking directly into the lens with no artificial jollity or pulling of faces, these girls are so happy and comfortable in each other’s presence. Their faces exude friendship.
I marvel at the fact this photo was taken by an automatic camera. I doubt a photographer of long year’s experience could have taken a better portrait of youth. My guess is that it was made in the late 1930s to early 1940s.
I wish I knew the girls’ names and where this photo was taken, but as with so many of my photos, its origin is likely to remain a mystery.
This is a 1920s/early 1930s Photomaton branded postcard of a French photobooth photo. I wish I had the original image to show you, as it would’ve been of a much finer quality.
Our fashion conscious model is shown in one of the guided poses, from a prescribed list used by the Photomaton Corporation. In the early days of photobooth photography, the machines were installed in photography studios and operated by a trained supervisor who made sure you got that perfect shot. The original strips were of eight images. I will share one complete, uncut strip with you soon, that is, if I can find it!
On first glance this young woman looks to be on the pulse of between-the-wars fashion. She has a sharp cut bob and a cloche hat, both so typically stylish and indicative of the era. Yet there is something wrong. This is a fashion fail foto! Nothing matches. There are too many different patterns – geometric, floral, leafy. The large floppy bow is demure and feminine. To me, it works poorly with the tailored jacket and masculine collar of her shirt. Perhaps, without the addition of an artificial flower, she might’ve made this ensemble work?
I love the individual elements she has chosen. The pattern on the bow is chic and the buckle on her hat, a wonderful art deco, stylised, laurel wreath design. But again, there is no blending or matching of her accessories. Less is more, beautiful femme française. Less is more.
I was attracted to this photo as there is a medieval princess look to this young woman’s hat. I’m very fond of portrait paintings from that era. The cone shaped hennin of the period, says royalty above all else and the demure expression on her very attractive face, gives her a regal bearing.
Closer inspection of the image suggests she is wearing a marching girl uniform of some sort, rather than a carnival or party costume. The insignia on the hat certainly suggests she is a member of an organisation or team of some sort.
This is an undated photobooth photo from France. It dates to around the 1940s. Perhaps, if you are more familiar with French culture than I, you might recognise this outfit? Let me know in the comments, if you do.
Here are some photos taken at the Chapel Street photobooth earlier this year. My health was more stable then than it is now. My apologies to everyone who has left a comment and not had a reply from me. Hopefully one day I will get back on top of things.
Hope you find these as amusing as I do. Happy Halloween to you all!
See me as I am
Glutton for your attention
I love haiku poems and have found the blogging world to be filled with poets using this old Japanese form in exciting ways. I have two particular favourites in this field. Today I share one of them with you.
Rose Perez from Poet Rummager is an artist-collector-poet. Her poetry comes in many forms. They are frequently deeply personal and touching, inspiring and insightful. There is a lot to explore on her blog including audio clips of her reading her poems, art of her own making, art from others and collaborations.
A short time ago I asked Rose if she would like to use one my photos as inspiration for some of her work. I was really thrilled when she said yes. I think the piece, above, captures the dynamic in this photo. It makes me chuckle, though without the photo, the poem has a different, more dramatic tone. It stands on its own.
Please visit Rose’s blog to read and see more, at the links above, or here.
Above is one of a series of silverpoint drawings based on photobooth images. The artist is Roy Eastland. He is based in the UK where he exhibits widely.
His work is centred on drawing. He is especially interested in art about human presence, memory and trace.
Roy talks about this series –
These silverpoint portraits are based on photobooth images of my Mum. They were most likely done for bus passes. The photos I’ve drawn from are the mistimed and unflattering ones which were never used. I like them because they capture familiar facial expressions and the hints of personality which better-posed photographs would never have caught.
The photographs are the starting points but the drawings are never straightforward copies of them. They slowly emerge out of a painstaking drawing-process of repeated loss and revision. The drawings are repeatedly scratched-away and redrawn so that the resultant drawings are traces of time as much as they are drawings of people.
The drawings contain blocks of handwriting too. Handwriting is also a kind of drawing. The texts are made up of lines of remembered speech and familiar stories repeatedly re-written and altered in each re-telling. Some phrases and words become more prominent over time but complete sentences are hard to see and the presence of it all is always fragile, like a memory.
Silverpoint drawings are made by drawing a point of silver wire across a prepared surface onto which tiny traces of metal are deposited. These traces are extremely subtle; pressing the point harder will not make the line any darker or its presence any stronger. The delicacy of silverpoint lines makes it an appropriate medium for an art about presence, trace and memory.
My drawings are based on photobooth images but they are really drawings about the presence of life in insignificant and otherwise unrecorded moments. Drawings condense moments in time into traces of touch. They take time to do and the sense of time is subtly replayed whenever someone spends time looking at a drawing. My drawings are a kind of meditation on an imagined single moment of a life in which someone was still for a while and at which no one else was present.
I find his work extremely interesting and moving. There is a strong sense of being pulled into the image, as though we are leaping through a time barrier in order to be able to connect with the person, face to face. Roy’s drawings achieve something which I aim to convey in words when I describe a photobooth photo on this blog. I love the subtle relationship of materials between the silverpoint used to make the drawings and the silver gelatin process that was used in photobooth photos for decades.
Two more of Roy’s works are below. You can see a lot more of his beaautiful images at his blog, here.