Thursday, March 15, 2012


What is important about the photobooth is the melding of technology with personal aesthetic.  The paid professional photographer has been eliminated and in his place is this cramped curtained booth with a camera at eye level which allows the subject to take on the role of both observer and subject.  Being both behind the camera and in front of it, so to speak, blurs into one role which allows for the subject (or subjects) within the booth to at times create another persona-to control the visual message about who they are and how they wish to be depicted.  But the subject’s eye is often revealed as a studied knowing eye which in fact winks at the potential viewer of the photo as if to say what is revealed is all a joke- thereby functioning as a hall of mirrors which can deflect the true soul of the subject or subjects captured on film.  Thus the camera is used as a device to not only record identity but to create and manipulate it.  

But then another layer “outside the booth” is placed onto the original photo--that of the collector who now owns the photo.  Below are a few collectors'  favorite photobooths which inhabit a digital world years away from that photobooth strip (and they nearly always were created  in a four photo per strip format) which was eagerly clutched in someone’s hand, passed around to gales of laughter, or cut up and put in a wallet as a remembrance of a happy time, a fun vacation or perhaps an emerging crush with the person sharing the booth.

Robert E. Jackson

In no particular order:

One of my favorites.

A black cat named Lucky in a photobooth.  Need I say more? I love the allure and mystery behind the black cat. I also love that it was  perfectly hand colored back in the day.  I just got this photobooth and it's easily become my favorite.

Albert Tanquero
For more on Albert, click here. 

This photo is one of seven in this larger size. I also have 40 more regular-sized photobooth images of the woman and her family. There is a photomatic of her as well.  I love their eyes in this shot, not to mention the wonderful painted background.

Erin Waters
For more on Erin, click here. 

Double-exposure photobooth photos I think are really rare.  This photo is magical to me and is one of my top favorites.

Robert E. Jackson
For more on Robert, click here. 

This one just reads well.  It has that bright enthusiasm one gets when even just thinking of going into a photobooth. 

Take this simple exercise with me:

1)Close your eyes right now just for a moment and imagine your going into a one. (No, really just do it).
2) Pull the curtain back and look inside, empty right? Take a look at the seat, and now turn around and look at the mirror ( You're smiling right now aren't you?).

3) Sit down, take a seat and look at yourself.  (Are you getting that tickling stomach yet? You feel it?)

4) Okay, drop your coins in and look at yourself again. (No, that's a stupid smile try something else)

5) Now hit the button....................................wait, wait.... (Come on, when is this thing going to...)--
6) FLASH! (Don't worry you have a few more to get it right)


We still have photobooths today even when  so many cameras can also make phone calls and I believe it is not the nostalgic factor at all, it’s just a magical state of mind-- even one which is childlike, where anything can happen. One is empowered just to forget who they are and to be anyone they want to be for a few minutes.  

Think about it.  Our love for these booths has not diminished at all.

This one is nothing flashy, but I have always loved it.  I love her expression, which is almost a glare and I love the pin holding her shirt closed.  My favorite photobooth.  Hope you like it.

Clare Goldsmith
For more on Clare, click here. 

This Popeye is a combination of two genres--the carnival image and the photobooth. I am always surprised to look through my collection and realize I have more of a particular type of image than I think I do. That's why I love it when asked to select a photo according to a theme,  as it makes me think anew about that theme as it relates to the images in my collection.

Sabine Ocker
For more on Sabine, click here. 

In a photobooth there was no one behind the camera. The occupant inside was in control of the outcome of the photograph. Sort of. Accidents in photobooths were common, as common as the magical mishaps that happened when there was someone behind the camera.

People, in a small private space where they can be themselves, in front of a camera, with no one behind the camera. An automated mechanical process. The film is exposed and a narrative is created.

Was the man in the process of sitting next to the woman? Was he whispering? Trying to make her laugh? Or smile?

We'll never know. We don't need to.

This triple image strip is from a business that has a photobooth for photo ID’s.  I like it because it is uncut and also because of the moody shadows.

Richie Hart
For more on Richie, click here.

Obviously, the star of this photobooth image is the lack of detail in the face. Since the photobooth was designed to take your portrait, this was a photobooth failure. Photographic failures can be wonderfully poetic.

John Foster
For more on John, click here.

I love this young woman, sight seen.  I love her youthful exuberance, her girlishness on the cusp of womanhood, her innocence, her joie de vivre.  It always seems so common, so ordinary, so much the expected, to wish for another person - someone long gone, someone forever unknown, some anonymous being - the happiness and fulfillment that, at bottom, one wishes above all for one's self.  Still, when I look at her, trying on versions of herself, I can't help hoping that she had a Long and Happy Life, and many returns to the photobooth, trying on new faces for the next exciting chapter in her never-ending saga.

John Van Noate
See how young they are? See the way their faces touch, their bemused smiles sublimely curled. They are at an amusement park by a lake and it’s night and the colored lights on the Ferris Wheel just flickered on and off and on again as they walk toward the arcade. Outside the air is growing cooler and, though it’s late September, winter feels imminent. Looming. She is nervous and excited and despite the chilling air, her hand sweats slightly holding his in the photobooth. And she has a secret; a tiny secret like the distant scent of something cooking in another room. She wants to tell him but thinks it best to wait. They are so young and there is yet so much time.

Guy Capecelatro III