December 07, 2005

A five day trip to Austin last week netted eight photobooths around the city, six of which live in various locations of Amy’s Ice Creams around town. I called a random location before I arrived and was told that three locations had photobooths, but as I went from one to the next, I learned from the helpful folks behind the counter about other locations with photobooths as well. Unfortunately, of the six locations I visited last week, only two had working photobooths. I can imagine it’s pretty tough to keep a fleet of old classics going all the time, and we applaud Amy and Steve for the great work they’ve done in keeping photobooths alive in Austin. 

My first afternoon in town, I took a walk down 6th to Waterloo Records, Book People, and the 6th Street Amy’s. Their photobooth, a black and white Auto-Photo Model 20, produces a photostrip that is a solid 3/4″ shorter than a regular strip, meaning each photo is a discernible fraction shorter than a traditional photo. I can’t remember seeing a strip like this before; I’m curious as to how and why it’s so much shorter. The photos I got had an appealing sepia tone, but also a lots of cloudiness around the edges.

chuys_elvis.jpgNext up, Caroline and I hit Chuy’s that night, and tested out their wonderful Model 11 complete with Elvis cut-out standing on top. Nice rounded bottom corners on the photos, which turned out a little fuzzy. 

From Chuy’s, we set off to the Dobie Mall, where we found the typical grey-striped color photobooth in the basement, with a digital booth by its side. The photos turned out fine, but the transmission treated the strip a bit roughly, and left the bottom and sides creased and wrinkled. 

For the last stop of the evening, we headed up to Amy’s Ice Creams on Guadalupe, and found another nice Model 20 that was unfortunately out of order. 

We discovered along the way that the photobooths I saw mentioned online at MugShots and another bar whose name I can’t remember (Jackalope — thanks, Caroline) turned out to both be digital.

amys_wall_2.jpgThe last day I was in town, Caroline helped me out on my quest once again as we hit four more Amy’s locations, though we only found one working booth. We started at the Super South location, home to a Model 14 black and white machine, and then proceeded to the Westgate location, where we found a working Model 20B with beach-towel curtain, plus lots of photobooth photos on the wall.

The search came to a close with two locations north of town, at the Arboretum, where the helpful staff warned us the booth wasn’t working, and even opened up the machine, a nice rounded model. The machine when through the motions, but it turned out there was no paper left. From the Arboretum, we headed up to The Wood, where we found out last booth, a nice un-numbered model with the great “miniature portaits” advertisement on the ends. 

Despite the lack of photostrips to show for it, the trip was a great success, and I left very impressed with Austin’s photobooth population. I’m sure I missed a few, and I look forward to a return trip to catch a few of the machines that were out of order this time around. Thanks to Caroline for playing along — it was a lot of fun.

One Comment

  1. I wish you would have contacted me while you were in town, I apologize about the number of booths down, it must have been a bad day. They are old. I really appreciate your article and it actually got me an email from George in Canada at AutoPhoto/Canada. Here is a list of additional Amy’s booths; San Antonio at the Quarry Amy’s,Houston at the Shepherd Store and Woodway. in Austin from North to South; The Wood, The Arbor, Burnet Rd., The Guad, 6th Street, Super South and Westgate. Basically, ALL Amy’s except the Airport and Soco, which will get one this Spring when Jo’s coffee moves out. As for your question about the shorter film some of these cameras have odd gears in them and they do that. If you ever have questions or care to get a history of how long and why we are still keeping this alive, feel free to email. Happy Holidays from Amy’s Ice creams.