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.
I am tentatively dipping my toe back in the blogging pool after a long hiatus. To ease myself back in, I’ve chosen the painted backgrounds of the photos, instead of the people, as the focus.
These items are all from the USA and very easily dated to WW2 thanks to the painted battleships in the backdrops. It amuses me that the composition is virtually identical in each of the three examples, yet different enough to suggest they were painted by different artists. So which one was the original design, if any of them? Does this follow the layout of a navy recruitment poster or a propaganda leaflet? Did Fred Nerk, Joe Blogs or Jane Smith come up with the design for his/her photobooth business, only to have it copied, to varying degrees of proficiency, until it spread the length of the country?
22 March 2017
This strip is one which I took after doing my Easter photos for 2017. I wasn’t going to let a perfectly good Easter prop go to waste or miss an opportunity to take more pics. In order to get my choppers around this delectable morsel, I had to first remove my bunny cheeks and teeth. The ears fell off when I removed my hair-tie. I’m still wearing my beautiful pink eye shadow and eye-brows, making this Easter series slightly more than some photos of a greedy-guts scoffing some chocolate.
Happy Easter to everyone!
A special little photo that, sadly, somebody else owns. Enjoy!
In June last year I asked Canadian photopbooth aficionado, Jeff Nachtigall aka Dirk Lancer, if I could share some of his images from his Lomography pages. He said yes. Now, finally, here they are.
Just as here in Australia, chemical booths are disappearing in Canada. Jeff says all the black and white booths have gone and he has heard that the colour ones will be gone within the next year or so.
To see more of Jeff’s work please click here.
Below is another series by Jeff with his explanation about how the series was made.
A LITTLE TRIM
I took this series in a photobooth in West Edmonton Mall, right beside the waterpark, across from the Antique photo parlour. I used an old bed sheet on my lap and over the floor to catch all the hair, while a friend waited outside, handing me loonies (1 dollar coins). The whole series cost $28 and took just under 1/2 an hour to complete. I learned that you can continue to put in coins and get photos done without waiting for the previous strips to develop, but I’m not sure how far you could push this. Next time, I’m taking a straight razor and a bucket of hot water 😉
Two of these photos turned up in the post as a surprise gift from my blogging friend in the USA, Ted. A few weeks later another unexpected envelope arrived but this time from one of my favourite Ebay sellers. I was thrilled to find a note and two more of the same series of photos, which had been sent directly from her, but once again were a gift from Ted.
These charming photos of this smartly dressed young lady would look great as an animated GIF. I did try, but without any success. One day if my concentration improves, I will attempt it again.
These American photos are undated. The sitter is identified as Gail.
My darling sister Susie still has a few days left in Australia before her return to her home in Dublin. Above is one of 10 photobooth strips we have taken so far on this visit. Four of the strips are colour digital ones and 6 are from a black and white chemical booth.
This series of photos was taken at my closest photobooth which is in Frankston, Victoria. On the day these were taken, we were there to see the film Guardians of the Galaxy (we both loved it) and to buy Sue’s favourite sweet treat, peanut butter dream bars. There was also the need for a photobooth adventure, as per my obsession, which Sue very kindly indulges.
Found, Luna Park 08/09/1996
Another found photo from the 90’s. I find these pics extremely amusing. There is something of Frankenstein’s monster in the lobotomised head I have had to “stitch” back on and in the stunned-mullet, slow-brained look on the face of this sitter. One must say that he and his friend were not the brightest of individuals, having missed most of the flashes before sitting down to pose.
I never found the final photo that looks like it may have actually worked, but that was okay, for I had plenty of fun with the other remnants.
My Fotobooth Frankenstein
Tattered and Lost Vernacular Photography blog is run anonymously by an imaginative, dedicated blogger, who also publishes books on vernacular photography. There is an element of fun in most of the posts, a lot of social history and some melancholia. Through keen observations and sometimes, lateral thinking, the commentaries on each photo reveals something more about American life, past and present, than might have been clear at first glance.
Evidence of the author’s vital imagination oozes from this blog, no more so than in the Time Travelling Celebrity category, which recently featured a photobooth photo of a gentlemen who very closely resembles the British actor Alan Cummings. (Click here to see original post). The author supposes that Alan has slipped into a time machine and whizzed back to 1940s USA, recording the adventure in the photo, above.
I love the concept of this series. In my mind there is a connection between a photobooth and Doctor Who’s TARDIS. They are of similar size and form and one can enter into each and then close out the rest of time and space. They are both “bigger on the inside” – one’s intentions and imagination creating the illusion of this, in the case of the photobooth. Finally they are both vehicles of time travel. The TARDIS can travel infinite distances through space and time. Photobooths work more slowly, sealing a fragment of time on paper, a moment that moves with the rest of us at a minute at a time, hour by hour, day by day. (See my photos in the category Photobooth Time Machines).
There are more photobooth photos to be found on the blog, like the one above, and there are many more to be found in the archive link, here.
Below are two more notable examples. I hope you will visit Tattered and Lost Vernacular Photography and enjoy exploring what you find there.
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 Islands, USA. 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.