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Photobooth.net
THE PHOTOBOOTH BLOG
September 19, 2022



While it’s no longer home to a photobooth on every corner, Chicago still has its fair share of working machines, and a recent trip (thank you, non-stop flights from New Haven to Midway, and thank you, Chicago Film Society!) I got a chance to visit four of them. 

It had been awhile since my last visit (on the occasion of the 2104 International Photobooth Convention) and I’d forgotten just how spread out the city is. It was my first trip there with access to a car, so it wasn’t the most conducive time to seek out booths around town, but I managed to find four booths, three of them working, and was happy to revisit some great locations I remembered from my last booth odyssey.

My first stop was the fabled booth at Quimby’s Bookstore, an amazing shop full of unique and wonderful books, comics, zines, and more. Their booth also wins for best and most creative custom signage, which was enough to make up for the disappointment of the booth being out of order.



Just think, if it had been working perfectly, I’d never have seen this beauty of a sign:

From there, I took a bus and walked to the Rainbo Club, a memorable spot which not only has a great booth but is one of my favorite bars anywhere, period. Their annual photobooth calendar is a real treat, and with a donation to the Greater Chicago Food Depository, I picked up this year’s to add to my collection, which now spans three decades.



The booth at the Rainbo Club is still going strong, and was in constant use when I was there. Long live the Rainbo!

From there, I made the trek down to Skylark, one of the other more memorable spots from previous trips. I had a lovely dinner (don’t forget the tater tots) and enjoyed reading a ten year old issue of The New Yorker (it was new to me) at the bar. Their booth has seen an update since I last visited, and I was pleased to see it was functioning well.

Finally, I made a stop at the Holiday Club in Wrigleyville. Their booth is in the same location as last time I visited, but has also changed a bit. Most people there didn’t seem to notice the machine, but I was glad it was still going strong.

August 28, 2022



Thanks to longtime contributor Stephanie for yet another European photobooth update this year. An April trip to the German capital brought a chance to visit the city’s wonderful variety of booths, with mostly good news. A few locations (Charlie’s Beach, Hardenbergstrasse 22, and Warschauer Straße 47 and Warschauer Straße 47B) that we had listed were no longer there, but for the most part, existing locations were still active since our last report from my 2019 visit.

Stephanie found seven booths that we had listed still up and running, though a few had a somewhat different appearance, including a nice machine at Markthalle Neun with a chalkboard on the outside. 

Thanks to Stephanie’s updates, we’ve also added three new booths. First, a booth at Holzmarkt along the River Spree, and next, two side-by-side booths at Mauerpark, one producing horizontal strips, the other making vertical ones, which share a beautiful “Photoautomat” sign that spans the two machines.

August 26, 2022

Much has been made of late about the demise of the analog photobooth in Canada. While it’s true that the once-thriving Canadian mall and metro station photobooth scene is no more, I was pleased to find two working photochemical machines during two trips to our northern neighbor this summer. 

Back in the summer of 2018, I got a tip from our friend Meags to visit North Star Pinball in Montreal, home to a unique colo(u)r booth with a limited life expectancy. I made a pilgrimage with my father and brother, where we took a few strips and I enjoyed pointing out the unique characteristics of this special machine.



I wasn’t expecting the booth to still be kicking four years later, but during my next visit to Montreal in June of this year, I made my way to North Star Pinball, headed upstairs, and found the booth still there, and still in working order. The price of the booth had doubled, from $5 to $10 Canadian over the intervening years (tied with the booth at the Whitney Museum for priciest in my experience), but it was well worth it. Sitting in the booth, one is presented with an informative, rather wistful card explaining the significance of this booth.



One would think I’d never taken photos in a booth before by the way I placed the two strips I took face-to-face in my jacket pocket, but I prefer to think I’d meant to experiment with some direct transfer printing, and now have two color strips, each with traces of the other on it.



I’ll reiterate my advice from 2018: stop by North Star Pinball and take a strip in their booth while you still can.

A few weeks later, a family road trip brought us to Kingston, Ontario, in July, where something truly remarkable happened: for the first time in recent memory, I came across an analog photobooth I wasn’t aware of, completely by chance. For nearly 20 years, any time I’ve traveled, I’ve scoped out photobooth locations in advance and made visiting them a part of every trip. I hadn’t done any such planning for this trip, as I didn’t think there were any locations out there yet to be found.

As we walked around Kingston, though, Aimee spotted a shop, the Antique Emporium, that advertised “Vintage Photobooth Inside” on the front window. I was skeptical, but lo and behold, we found a lovely Auto-Photo Canada booth inside, and took three strips in the few minutes that remained before the shop closed.





Two other booths, neither in working order, could be seen further back in the shop.



Amidst a steady stream of depressing news about the closure of photobooths around the world, it was encouraging to find one known stalwart still producing beautiful color strips, and another heretofore unknown black and white machine quietly making distinctive strips out of the spotlight.

July 10, 2022

As things have returned closer to normal, I’ve been able to make another visit to a European photobooth capital, this time Florence, Italy. I was the the country for a film festival, the same one that afforded an opportunity for my last visit to the booths of Florence six years ago. This time, though I was sad to miss catching up with Matteo himself, I did manage to visit all five booths currently installed in the city, and in under two hours, no less. 

All of the booths are placed in great locations, ranging from right on the sidewalk, to tucked into an exterior wall, to built into the lobby of a hip hotel. Photostrips still cost only €2, as they have for years, and take only one- or two-euro coins (my speed run would have been considerably faster had I not had to look for a café to get an espresso, and change, after starting off at the first location empty-handed).

First off was a new location inside The Student Hotel, not far from Florence’s main rail station. The booth, painted a bright yellow, is visible as you enter the lobby of the hotel, inset beautifully into the wall, up a small flight of stairs at the back of the room. 

From there, I made my way to the booth at Via del Proconsolo, under the shadow of the Museo Nazionale del Bargello. From there, it was a short five-minute walk to the booth at Via dell’Agnolo, where I found a customer waiting for his photos to arrive.

From there, I walked along the Arno and crossed to the southern side on the Ponte Vecchio to find the booth on Via Santa Monaca. This dark red booth is set into the wall, facing out onto the sidewalk, and augmented with decorations around the outer edge of the booth. A few of us were waiting to take photos here, and it’s clear this is the iconic photobooth of the city. 

On my way back to the train station now, my last stop was at Largo Fratelli Alinari. This booth was busy, as well, with a couple taking a set or two of photos when I arrived. 

I made another espresso and change stop while I waited, and after taking my own set of photos, I made my way back to the train station and returned to Bologna. I haven’t mentioned the quality of the images on any of these booths, because they were all uniformly excellent. The only hiccup came in the last booth, which only flashed three times, and left me with a (wonderful) unexposed second frame. Cheers to Matteo for these well-placed and beautifully maintained booths. 

June 12, 2022

In late March, my first post-lockdown international trip brought me to Paris for a film conference and festival, and I was eager to check in on all things analog film-related, both 35mm screening venues and photochemical photobooths. While each of these technologies is wrapped up in scarce equipment and a singular manufacturer of raw materials, they both have passionate enthusiasts keeping the technology alive, and I was very pleased to find six working booths in Paris (and, if you’re interested, eleven different cinemas showing 35mm prints). 

From left to right, La Samaritaine, 53 Rue de Trois Freres, and Pavillon Puebla:
Palais de Tokyo, Bonton Filles du Calvaire, and Le Centquatre:I’ve added three new entries for the booths we didn’t have entries for (Pavillon Puebla, La Samaritaine, and the new booth at Bonton), and include photos of all six booths I visited this week below:







o





Special thanks to Virginie and Eddy of Fotoautomat for meeting with me on a busy day at their Montmartre studio, where we talked— about supply chain issues, of course— and caught up since the last time we saw each other five years ago. It’s great to be back in the world, and to catch up with photobooth friends again.

December 13, 2021

We were so saddened this week to hear from Christian Bonifas, one half of the photobooth art duo Les Matons, that his partner Hélène Fabre passed away on December 8 at the age of 56. 

For nearly thirty years, Les Matons created a huge body of work based on photobooth photographs, which culminated in a final exhibition at the Bibliothèque de Carré d’Art in their home city of Nîmes, France, in October 2019. 

In addition to their immense creative work and publication, Hélène and Christian have been some of the most steadfast and prolific contributors to Photobooth.net, beginning shortly after I first corresponded with them in 2007.

We owe them a huge debt of gratitude, and send our heartfelt best wishes to Christian.

A piece in Nîmes Gazette Live touches on Hélène’s life and contributions. In translation, 

Half of Les Matons is no more. Wednesday, December 8, Hélène Fabre died suddenly at the age of 56. With Christian Bonifas, Hélène formed Les Matons from 1988 to 2017, a duo of artists using photobooths as a means of expression.

Their work is both simple and poetic. Their photos are fueled by objects, props, and clothing. There is a real aesthetic and joy,” commented gallery owner Pascal Adoue de Nabias at a retrospective in May 2019. 

That same year, the Carré d’Art library presented their work as part of the 20th anniversary of Documentary Film Month.

At La Gazette, where she wrote the exhibition pages and part of the cultural agenda for twenty years, Hélène leaves a void much larger than her discreet presence.

Her funeral will take place on Wednesday, December 15th at 4pm at the crematorium of Nîmes.

I was lucky to have met Christian and Hélène at the Derriere le rideau exhibition in Lausanne, Switzerland, in February of 2012, where we took the somewhat poorly executed photostrip at right. 































February 02, 2021

Over the course of 2020, my pandemic projects slowly went from April’s somewhat lofty “finally work on that idea for a book I’ve had in the back of my mind” to June’s rather lazier “watch 300 comedies and action films from the ’80s.” It didn’t start out that expansive, to be honest, but quickly snowballed out of control, finally coming to an end as the year closed, at which point I had unwittingly watched more body-switch comedies than I knew existed.

All the while, of course, I kept my eyes out for photobooths and photostrips, and though I was somewhat disappointed in the slim number of examples I came across, there were still a few surprises and memorable appearances. In chronological order, then, (some of) the photobooths and photostrips of 1980s cinema:

A brief glimpse of a booth at Union Station in Chicago in Continental Divide (1981)



An upgraded frame grab from a Blu-ray that confirms that the film uses a real photostrip of Jennifer Jason Leigh in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)



Two color strips of Nicolas Cage in Valley Girl (1983)



Proper aspect-ratioed frame grabs of the stills we already had on the site, plus a few I’d missed before, from The Karate Kid (1984)



Tracey Ullman looks at a strip of her missing boyfriend in Give My Regards to Broad Street (1984)



Canadian teens pass by a photobooth in use in Breaking All the Rules (1985)



One of the German rockers offering a ride out of West Berlin presents his passport, complete with color photobooth photo, in Gotcha! (1985)



Helen Hunt trims a photobooth photo of herself to glue onto a picture of Eddie Van Halen in Girls Just Want to Have Fun (1985)



Helen Slater shows off a number of photostrips tucked in a mirror in Ruthless People (1986)



Upgraded stills of the photobooth murder sequence in Best Seller (1987)



Sylvester Stallone’s character has a photostrip of his kid tucked in the row of his semi cab in Over the Top (1987)



A photostrip appears in a TV ad seen in The Couch Trip (1988)



Bounty hunter Jack Walsh (Robert De Niro) trims a photobooth photo to modify the FBI ID badge he’s just stolen in Midnight Run (1988)



A single photobooth photo can be seen in one scene in Tapeheads (1988)



Two photobooths in Chicago’s Union Station: one in Vice Versa (1988)…



and another in the background of this shot from The Package (1989)



A strip featuring Kevin Kline and Susan Sarandon is one of the more amusing moments in The January Man (1989)



Martin Short offers a (faked) photostrip to be used in procuring a fake passport in Three Fugitives (1989)



A photostrip of Veronica and Heather in a locker in Heathers (1989)



Sally Kirkland uses an airline first aid kit to trim and re-connect a photostrip in Cold Feet (1989)



It’s safe to say a similar trip through the 1970s would yield an even stronger crop of photobooths and photostrips, but for the time being, we’ll be taking them one at a time. As always, your tips and submissions are welcome. 

Brian | 6:02 pm | Movies
May 26, 2020

We last noted the iconic photobooth portrait of Robert Johnson—until that time one of only two widely accepted, legitimate portraits of the blues musician—in a blog entry back in 2005. Over the years, other photos have surfaced, including one allegedly depicting Johnson with fellow bluesman Johnny Shines written up in the New York Times in 2017, but this month, a second Robert Johnson photobooth portrait has emerged.

The upcoming memoir by Johnson’s step-sister, Annye Anderson, is previewed in this month’s issue of Vanity Fair, and the cover image is advertised as “third verified picture of him in existence,” taken in the mid-1930s in a “make-your-own-photo place” in Memphis, Tennessee.

Excerpted from the book, here is Mrs. Anderson’s account of the day the photo was taken:

There was a make-your-own-photo place on Beale Street, near Hernando Street. I’ve since learned that a man named John Henry Evans owned it. The photo place was right next door to Pee Wee’s, the bar where Mr. Handy wrote his blues. One day when I was 10 or 11 years old, I walked there with Sister Carrie and Brother Robert. I remember him carrying his guitar and strumming as we went. You just walk in, drop a nickel in the slot, pull the curtain, and do it. There was no photographer. I had my picture made. Brother Robert got in the booth, and evidently made a couple.

I kept Brother Robert’s photograph in my father’s trunk that sat in the hallway of the Comas house while we lived there with my mother after my father died. After my mother died, we could only take so many things. I took my photographs with me, wrapped in a handkerchief. I only carried a few belongings to Ma and Pops Thompson’s house. When I moved in with my sister Charlyne, I bought some furniture. I stored the photograph, along with others, in a cedar chest I bought. I’ve always had this photograph.

Thanks to Charles for the tip.

May 05, 2020

With the extra time on our hands lately, we’ve had the chance to catch up on some backlogged to-do items, from back-end fixes to new content. Hopefully our readers won’t notice much of the behind-the-scenes work, but we can say that the blog archives, more than 450 entries stretching back 15 years, are now fully browsable again, by year, month, and category, to give a few ways of digging in.

Next up, new locations, from around the world:

We start with two new booths in public, outdoor locations in Prague. We’ve always felt like Prague could be a good photobooth town, and we’re happy to see two more booths, at the National Theater and at the National Gallery, added to the tally there. Thanks, Petr!

Next, a new home for an existing booth in Zürich, Switzerland.

When I visited Patrick in April, 2019, he was already planning the move, and awaiting the official go-ahead, which finally came and allowed him to move the booth where he and I took a strip outside Kosmos to another, more prime location outside Kanzlei Club.

Thanks to Michelle for contributing the photos for this new location.

I don’t know if I noted it between my visits to Lausanne in April and Berlin in August, but we learned that the booth on Goldbrunnenstraße in Zürich, operated by the machine’s inventor, Martin Balke—which for my money made the best photobooth photos I’ve ever taken—was taken out of service when Martin moved out of his apartment this summer. While we’re very glad to know about Patrick’s two booths in Zürich, we can’t help but mourn the loss the last remaining horizontal strip Swiss machine in Switzerland. The machines live on in Berlin, so visit them while you can!

Now, on to the pictures… We’re always coming across new films, with the grand total on our site now up to 226 different films spanning nearly a hundred years of cinema. This time, a few more recent additions.

First, thanks to our long-time contributor Charles, we have the first Chuck Norris film added to the list, a real cause for celebration. Code of Silence features a brief shot of a booth in Chicago’s Union Station. A few years later, the film’s director, Andrew Davis, would employ a photobooth in a much more integral way in The Fugitive.

Also thanks to Charles, we’ve added the 1975 exploitation film Just the Two of Us (originally released in 1970 as The Dark Side of the Mirror), which features a lovely booth in the final shot of the film.

We also got around to posting a single photobooth frame in the credits of the delightful Paddington 2, highly recommended for the whole family if anyone’s looking for brilliant, escapist fun on many levels.



In Ron Howard’s 2019 documentary Pavarotti, about the legendary tenor Luciano Pavarotti, we see a brief shot of a few frames from a photostrip capturing Pavarotti and his first wife.

Thanks to Christian for the tip on a 1998 film, Love Is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon, featuring Derek Jacobi as the painter Francis Bacon, which features two extended scenes shot from the perspective of the photobooth camera.



The 2017 Morrissey biopic England is Mine includes a few photobooth photos in a scene in a Manchester record store where young Stephen awaits an answer to the “musician wanted” advert he’s posted there.

And now to the very recent: the Pixar release Onward joins Up in the “photobooth in a Pixar film” club.

Moving on to photobooths in music, we have a few albums to report, and a lot of songs. First, a 2016 album by the Fruit Bats called “Absolute Loser.“



And next, a 1987 album by Tom Verlaine, with a lovely color photobooth photo as the cover, Flash Light.



This past week, we added 33 songs with photobooths in the lyrics or title of the song. Rather than just list them all, I’ve created a mega-lyric featuring a line from each of the songs, which gives an idea of the way the image is used in these (mostly contemporary) songs. Perhaps the successor to my “Photobooths in Cinema” talk will be a three minute mashup of every photobooth-related lyric I can find. 

Click the lyric to visit the page for that song.

The Photobooth Song”

Dive into a photobooth
Snap it for Japan, yeah oh
Duct tape you in my roof
Kiss you in the photo booth
Count it down, see the camera flash
Pick up all the photos and put in more cash
When we were chillin’
Smiling in the photo booth
I held the picture in my eye
From a photo booth near by
You’re not allowed to tell the truth
And the photo booth’s a liar
In the shrine
Found a photo booth
Black and white strip
From that photo booth
Nobody is hangin’ ’round makin’ out in the photo booth
Last Friday I see you in the photo booth
Makes my teeth hurt like airplane bathrooms
Photomaton soixante-dix-sept…
And photo booths she said
What she loves is sex in parked cars and the photo booth at Cha Cha
Take photos in the photo booth
The summer of my wasted youth
Dentro al Photobooth “Tre, due, uno: cheese” (click)
You felt that need to pile us all
Our smiles on call inside a tiny photo booth
Singing karaoke, killing Backstreet
Touching in the photo booth
Their surveillance state is not just a freakin‘ photo booth
That night we had our picture made
In a photo booth in town
And hope that the memories develop in the darkness
Like photos do, I wish I had a time-machine and a photo-booth
We took some pictures in a photo booth
Was it just you and her?
Did you go in the photo booth?
Snipers hiding in the photo booths
Gettin’ stuck with you in that photo booth
Photobooth, kissing youth, midnight bulletproof
Mein Spiegelbild zieht Fratzen, so wie Paare in der photo booth
Jeder-jeder wünscht sich so ‘n Beruf
We stuck that picture in a bottle
Sleeping silently in a photo booth
On the road where I caught a cab
And you thought that I’d leave you once I learned the truth
When we got lost as hell in that old photo booth
Pull the photo booth curtain
Check if the bar is open
Silver quarters in a photo booth
It printed little pictures of you
Get some change
Photos from a booth
Rifle range
And when the lights start flashing like a photobooth
And the stars exploding
We’ll be fireproof
a photobooth snapshot fading.
there ain’t too much left.
And screaming
High above the cities
Sings a lonely photobooth
(Gone in a flash)

April 01, 2020

Passing on this sad but not unexpected bit of news from Rafa at Autofoto:

Dear friends,

I hope this email finds you and your loved ones well.

We are living extremely disruptive times and need to follow the scientists advice. So we are taking the inevitable decision of postponing the International Photobooth Convention this June. We can assure you we will be holding a convention in London in the not too distant future—we can’t wait to welcome you to our amazing city!

We’ll announce the exact date when we have all recovered and are ready to celebrate

I hope you all keep safe (and sane).

Let’s keep in touch,

Rafa and the AUTOFOTO team