After much head-scratching, square-one-returning, re-coding, and a round of interstate online video, IM, and telephonic collaboration, the Photobooth Blog and by extension Photobooth.net are now rendering properly to our Internet Explorer visitors. Though it is outdated, non-standard, unsafe, and inadequate, its users certainly aren’t, and we welcome you. Thanks to Tim for help on this project; this collaboration continues to be mutually beneficial.
In yesterday’s edition of the The Daily Targum, the Rutgers University student newspaper, the Inside Beat section takes a look at photobooths near the New Brunswick, New Jersey campus. The article goes into a bit of photobooth history, and then profiles booths at 7B, Otto’s Shrunken Head, and the Manhattan Mall, all in New York City, as well as an overview of booths on the Jersey Shore. It looks like the author did some good internet research, as elements of the descriptions bear marked similarities to descriptions found in the Doubleperf photobooth listings. So long as it’s not word-for-word, we’ll forgive the liberal borrowing in the name of greater photobooth awareness.
The paper also offered a companion piece that attempts to characterize photobooth images as we might see them in a film or on tv: “Box #1: Confused. How do we work this machine? Crap, I wasn’t ready. Alright, here we go.” Unfortunately, the authors seem to have little experience with an actual photobooth, as they describe photobooth strips as having five photos. I’ve seen some with two and some with three, but most feature the common four photos. Any five-photo booths out there, Tim?
The article continues, “Photo booths, as you will be reading in today’s cover story, are a thing of the past.” I think the point is exactly the opposite; photobooths are everywhere these days, one needs to simply look, or to use a certain online resource as one’s guide.
I’m not sure why I didn’t notice this before, but LA gossip blog Defamer calls the photobooth trend “colder than a Republican in Carrie Fisher’s guest room” thanks to the NYT article on LA’s photobooths reported here earlier. Citing the appearance of Dave Navarro in the article as well as some other ways in which the article fails the litmus test of LA cool, Defamer says that Brett Ratner’s photobooth mania is the straw that killed the trend. We’ll see about that.
“Please take 2 sets of fotos, 1 4 U, 1 4 our host!” So the sign apparently read outside a photobooth at a party held to celebrate Prince’s NAACP Vanguard Award last week. According to reports, the booth was set up outside the building and guests were encouraged to take photos to leave for the host.
Legendary blues pioneer Robert Johnson left behind very little physical evidence of his existence when he died in 1938. In addition to the 29 songs he recorded, two known photographs of him exist. One, a portrait of Johnson wearing a hat and holding his guitar, was taken at the Hooks Brothers Studio in Memphis in 1938. The other, discovered by Johnson biographer Steven LaVere in a cedar chest belonging to Johnson’s half-sister Carrie Thompson, is a photo booth portrait.
Today, the photos are at the center of a legal quagmire that involves Thompson’s heirs, LaVere (to whom Thompson ceded rights of the photos), a man claiming to be Johnson’s son (who has been named sole heir of his estate) and the CBS label, which produced the blockbuster box set of Johnson’s recordings in 1990. Thompson’s heirs have filed suit against LaVere, Johnson’s sole heir Claud Johnson, and Sony Corporation, which bought CBS Records.
Is this the first time a photobooth photo has been at the center of a legal dispute? The case not only involves the photo itself, but gets at the mechanics of 1930s photobooth technology:
Nonsense, responds Mr. LaVere, who is unwilling to surrender his copyrights. Photo booths render pictures as mirror images, he says, so that the original pictured the right-handed Mr. Johnson as a left-handed guitarist.
For the moment, that is impossible to verify. Mr. Nevas, Ms. Anderson’s lawyer, said he is “not at liberty to say” where the photographs are. When pressed, he says only: “They’re in the possession of my clients.”
As one of two extant photos of Johnson, the image has been widely distributed and interpreted, and in 1994, became the first photobooth portrait to be turned into a US postage stamp (though not the last). The cigarette that dangles from Johnson’s lips was famously removed at the order of the USPS, an interesting change that is analyzed in great detail in Patricia Schroeder’s excellent 2004 work Robert Johnson, Mythmaking, and Contempory American Culture. In order to accommodate the dimensions of the stamp, Johnson’s guitar and hand are also moved slightly, and the drapery background of the original portrait becomes a wall of shingles in stamp designer Julian Allen’s version.
The photo has been painted, re-enacted, adapted, and painted again. The photo is often cropped, usually nearly square, which causes it to lose the tell-tale look of the photobooth portrait. This colorized version of the portrait gives a good idea of its true dimensions and clipped edges.
We’ll be waiting patiently to hear the court’s decision in the case, and see who ends up with what may be the most valuable photobooth photo of all time.
An Artnet article this week informs us that the Neue Galerie for German and Austrian art in New York has brought in a photobooth to complement their exhibition “Portraits of an Age: Photography in Germany and Austria, 1900–1938.” The $2 black-and-white booth “hails from New Jersey, however, not Weimar-era Germany.” The exhibition, which features more than 100 vintage photographs, runs through June 6, 2005.
I am still trying to track down some video, but Andrea Avery alerted me to a photobooth story that aired this morning on the CBS News Sunday Morning show. I did manage to find this blurb:
Andy Warhol’s Time Capsules, boxes “filled with a staggering array of art works, source and publicity material, correspondence and memorabilia,” are set to go on display at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia this week. The exhibit, which naturally includes photobooth strips, has prompted an article entitled “Trash or treasure?” in Melbourne’s daily The Age.
I stopped by Nini’s Corner yesterday to pick up a Sunday New York Times. I guess it’s been awhile since I bought one, but $4.50?! Isn’t there a discount for day-old news, like Bruegger’s has for bagels? Anyway, to follow up this weekend’s post about the article Why Hollywood Says Cheese, I present scans of the article. Click each image for a more readable copy. From the images in the continuation, it looks like there was something funky in the chemicals in the booth Pat O’Brien and Hilary Swank used, or she was wearing a veil in one of the shots.