Above are two beautiful young ladies, most probably sisters, posing on a day out with an unseen grown-up. If the collars are anything to go by, they look to be wearing the same style of white shirt. The younger child, in front, is wearing a hand knitted cardigan over the untucked shirt and her sister is wearing what looks to be a velvet jacket with a very fine line of nice shiny buttons.
Below, on a different day the elder girl again poses in a photobooth. This time she is holding up a sign. I love the slightly quizzical look on her face as she looks directly at the camera, with a slight downward tilt of her head. I am looking for help from my German speaking readers, as I have no idea what is written on the chalk slate she is holding. Maybe the language isn’t German at all? It could be a school photo but with no date on it, I doubt it. Or could it be commemorating a first day at school? If so, and if this is indeed a German photo, I would have expected her to be holding a schultüte (school cone). You can see a schultüte and read about what they are at this link.
So to my German friends, I would be very grateful if you could tell me whatever you can about these pictures.
All the photos date to around the 1930s.
This strip is another gift from my friend Ted in the USA. Since we met through our respective blogs, Ted has been very generous in his gifts of unique and interesting booth images. I’m so grateful to him and feel a flutter of joy each time I pull out the things he has given me.
Using the clothes and hairstyles as my guide, I would guess these images date to the late 1930s or early 1940s. It is quite unusual to find a strip from this era that has not been cut into individual frames. In the early years after its invention, photobooth machines were mostly situated in shops that offered other photobooth related photography services, such as enlargements, duplicates and framing. The machines were operated by an attendant who directed the poses. Once the photos were developed and dry, they were cut and placed in an envelope for presentation to the customer. There were eight photos to a strip.
You can see that these images have been taken with the help of an operator. There is none of the random squashing-in you see in later photos when the booths were unattended. The three ladies have been carefully directed to their respective positions allowing for no part of their faces to be obscured. In the first two frames the direction was to look left, the next to look right and the final one to look ahead. Whether or not they followed the instructions is another matter! I love the subtlety of the changes in each image, particularly in the eyes. They give the pictures a lovely gentle, and warm atmosphere.
There are some lovely details in the clothing and accessories worn by these three women. The woman on the right has a magnificent brooch in the form of a butterfly or bird wings at her throat. The huge buttons on her jacket look metallic in their shine. Maybe they have a gilt finish? The lady on the left is also wearing a lovely piece of jewellery in the form of a large sparkling pendant along with a matching sparkling hair clip. The ruffled collar of the lady who is sitting in the middle could be hiding some more jewels.
Below are some links to other posts that feature photos of Ted or relate to Ted in some way. Enjoy!
My Friend Ted
Two Old Birds In A Photobooth – A short story by Ted Strutz
Ted’s Photobooth Story – A real life photobooth tale
Three-Time Academy Award Winner In A Photobooth – Another strip from Ted
I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to buy this extraordinary photo. Perplexingly, no one else wanted it. Is that strange, or am I?
Umm. . . Please don’t answer that!
This is a British girl. In a photobooth. With a fish. A fish!!!
A freshly caught beautiful fish!
Is this the most, madly-insane, photobooth photo you have ever seen?
Maybe not. . .
Maybe . . .
No, it wasn’t. This is the most, madly insane, photobooth photo you have ever seen!
(Her poor fish-faced friend!)
USA Florida 1940s?
When I originally wrote about this photo, I made a lot of assumptions about the men pictured, based on the tropical beach background and the way one of the men reminded me of the fictional character Gomer Pyle, a Marine.
Johnny Alexander of the blog A Prayer Like Gravity left a comment that is a more factual description of the role these men might have played in the US forces. He was able to pick up details in the photo that I had not been able to decipher, and so ignored. Johnny wrote –
I believe that these gents were members of the US Army Air Corps, judging by the uniforms (not to spoil your imagined back-story of course). My dad was in the Army Air Corps in WWII.
This is him, as a cadet:
Johnny’s very handsome dad.
Interesting thing here is that the image of these two fly-boys is reversed as you can see in the “U.S.” emblem on the collar.
The other collar insignia is the winged propeller of the Air Corps. They were either still cadets or enlisted men, as officers would have their rank insignia on the collar instead of the “U.S.”. They show that winged prop insignia on their hats which is the real clincher I think for them being cadets.
This could possibly put them in Florida, as there were a number of training bases there during the war, including Boca Raton, where my dad was for a time.
Either way, this is probably pre-1947, as that is when the Air Force was formed from the US Army Air Corps.
I could be wrong on a few of the details here, but I’ll let you know if I come across anything else.
Many thanks to Johnny for taking the time to write this informative comment and especially for sharing his father’s photo. Please visit Johnny’s blog here.
From a French Seller
With that grimace and those watery eyes, this boy seems to still be suffering the agonies he experienced in the tattooist’s chair. What a face! I imagine this was his attempt at trying to look like a tough guy. I think he needs more time to perfect his mannerisms for that role, don’t you?
His tattoo is a panther, I think. Or some other type of big cat. Given the heights of tattoo art these days, this is a rather underwhelming effort. I wonder if he added to it or even had work done over it?
This lovely strip of four photobooth photos was taken in the USA, probably around the mid to late 1950s. This strip was a gift from my blogging friend Ted. (Thanks Ted!!) For the past twelve months there have been a lot of photos, which appear to come from this same booth, for sale on Ebay.
Not only is this child photogenic but she is at ease in front of the camera. She has chosen her poses well, including a different one for each image. Or has she chosen them?
When photobooths were first introduced to the world, they were installed in photographic studios that offered a variety of add-on services. These included hand-colouring, enlargements, duplications and framing. The booths were operated by a controller who would guide the sitter through a series of predetermined poses.
By the time these photos were taken, photobooths were mostly automatic, coin operated and situated in department stores, bus and train stations or other places with a good flow of foot traffic. In the photos for sale, which I mentioned above, poses like the ones in this strip are replicated over and over again. They are rarely in a complete series like these, (Thanks again Ted!!) but the frequency of the same poses and their formal style suggests that this booth was still being controlled by an operator in the 1950s.
So where would those operator controlled booths have been? They would have been owner operated and peripatetic. Like the photobooth owned by my photobooth clown, Yo Yo, they would have been at circuses or fairs. They might also have been at special social events such as school proms, adult dances or even fundraisers. So, with her casual shirt and relaxed demeanour I would be very happy to guess that this young lady had her photobooth experience on a day out at a travelling carnival or fun fair.
I have some other photos that might have come from the same or a similar type of booth. I will share them with you soon and you will see further evidence of my theories in the poses and costumes of the sitters.