May 26, 2006

As reported in, a man stopped in the manager’s office in a shopping center in Trowbridge, England, this week, to report that the photobooth was “on the blink,” only to spot a photograph of his mother, working in the woollen mill that once sat on the site of the Shires shopping center. Gwen Earle, now 92, began working in the mills at age 14, and after raising a family, retired at 62. The photograph, taken in 1976, was presented to Earle by the mall management. Even when they’re not working, photobooths exert a special power…

May 25, 2006

anne_frank.jpgWe’ve often thought of assembling a show or book made up of well-known people in photobooth photos, less along the lines of the MTV Photobooth celebrity-fest and more a collection of photos of people before they were well-known, or photos of people you might not expect to have been in a photobooth. Continuing where we left off with the Robert Johnson photobooth story from over a year ago, we’ll take a look at some other faces in history as they appear in photobooth pictures.

These historical figures don’t have much in common, but we’ve gathered links to images of Elvis Presley, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Anne Frank, and the world’s foremost Surrealists.

Tim told me about this “pre-fame” photo of Elvis Presley; one day I’d like to see it in person, especially without the watermark.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono included a reproduction of a photostrip, visible in this eBay auction, as part of the packaging for their 1969 “Wedding Album.” Apparently, on a side note, a photobooth photo of original Beatle Stu Sutcliffe was included in an exhibition in Liverpool a few years ago, as well.

A photobooth photo of Anne Frank is used as the cover of a book, pictured here. Visit GettyImages for more details on the photo.

Finally, check out the Guardian article about the Surrealists and the photobooth in Paris in the 1920s, and then look at the photos: two frames of a strip of Andre Breton from the Edwynn Houk Gallery, as well as low quality photos of Breton, Magritte, and Buñuel. Also, an article on the auction of those images.

Stay tuned for another installment of “famous people in the photobooth,” and please, send in any links and suggestions.

Brian | 8:20 am | History
May 22, 2006

bunch_photos.jpgAnother artist has been added to the list here at, an American painter named Lordan Bunch. Bunch, who has exhibited his work around the world over the last few years, makes small, photo-realistic paintings adapted from old photobooth photos. More info on Bunch can be found at this Davidson Gallery page and this Museum of Contemporary Photography page.

Also added today, Arty Carter’s A Life In A PhotoBooth 1974–1999, now found in our Projects section.

C.I. 1929” © 2001, Lordan Bunch.

Brian | 6:28 pm | Art, Projects
May 15, 2006

sylvan_beach.jpgThis weekend found us heading to the amusement park at Sylvan Beach on Oneida Lake, north of Syracuse, New York. Thanks to the ever-useful LiveJournal photobooth community, I had heard there were a few booths there, and indeed, we found three booths — two color (here and here), one black and white — at the carousel building in the center of the park. It’s still a little early in the season, and it was a little chilly at the park. Sadly, by the time of our visit, the machines hadn’t yeat been loaded with their chemicals and prepared for the summer rush. I peeked inside the booths, had a nice chat with Sue and Larry, and took some pictures of the booths, but I was a little sad not to have been able to take any photos. The park looks like a real gem of a place, and I’d love to return in better weather.

For more on the park, read this recent article from, titled “Sylvan Beach stands on the brink.”

May 14, 2006

paris_perfecto.jpgMore additions from the backlog of “to do” items, this time, two films with photobooth appearances. First, Paris, Texas, one of at least three Wim Wenders films to feature a photobooth or photostrip (we’ve already got his Faraway, So Close! posted, and we’re looking for Alice in the Cities). It’s also not the only time Nastassja Kinski appears in a photostrip; her clever appearance in Terminal Velocity has also been duly noted.

Second, we have Crimen Perfecto (or Crimen Ferpecto, depending on whom you believe), a dark comic farce from Spain from a few years back. The main characters squeeze into a photobooth, though one is a lot more wiling than the other.

Brian | 6:23 pm | Movies
May 10, 2006

jan_wenzel.jpgPhoto-London, billed as “London’s first international photography fair,” opens next week, offering thousands of photographs for sale to the public. A preview of the show from the Times of London describes the breadth of the show, and includes a mention of the works of “lesser-known young photographers such as Jan Wenzel, a German artist based in Leipzig, who creates his pictures in an old passport photo-booth.”

A quick search revealed this bio of Wenzel, mentioning his “künstlerischen Arbeit allein dem Paßbildautomaten,” and another hit led to story called “Pass-Bilder: Die Fotofixkunst von Jan Wenzel,” an informative piece that also links to his recent book, Fotofix (or Fofofix, as Amazon calls it…)

I’ve never heard of Wenzel’s work before, and from the photos and descriptions I see, it looks fascinating and different than anything else I’ve seen. Time to add him to our Art section.

Photo: Jan Wenzel, “Interieur #3

May 08, 2006

benoit.jpgLast year, I began searching French eBay for photobooth (or photomaton) items, such as the photobooth stool I noted last April. One of the items I mention in that entry is a publicity brochure for Photomaton, the French manufacturers of photobooths, and though it’s taken me awhile, I’ve finally got the item scanned and uploaded into our In Print: Ads section.

The brochure, a tri-fold piece that looks like it dates from sometime in the 1990s, is a brief bande dessinée adventure by Ted Benoît, a renowned illustrator in the “ligne claire” school of graphic artists. A private investigator, Ben Marquette, wanders Los Angeles, stopping at photobooths along the way, outside a movie theater, in a train station, and in a shopping center.

I haven’t translated the entire thing, but in the frame I’ve included here, Marquette mentions something to the effect that as he looks at the machine, he knows immediately that it will do something to his cheeks and give him the eyes of a Boston terrier. I’d appreciate any help if someone cares to expand on this poor job, and explain the last sentence (“to stripe my shelves”?) as well.

UPDATE: According to the author (see comments), that last line means “something like ‘blot out of one’s records (or note book, etc)’.”

May 07, 2006

Last year, after reaching what I thought was the end of the line for appearances of photobooths in film documented or mentioned on the web, I started searching with other key words thrown in, so instead of continually searching for “photobooth movie,” I would search for “photobooth script,” or “photobooth scene,” or anything else that might bring me to another mention. Tim came up with the idea of just adding a random word to “photobooth” and seeing what came up as a way to find more obscure and hidden material out there, and I’ve decided to inaugurate this feature today. If it stinks, we’ll stop, but it seems like it might have potential. 

I found a few random word generators out there, and chose to use one that creates nouns in particular, though I suppose any kind of word would work fine. The first candidate: plaster. And the first result: well, the first hit is for an entry in none other than this very blog, which brings me to some rules for this exercise: instead of taking the first hit, or even the second, I think it’s probably our prerogative to choose the most interesting of the the first few links rather than stick to any formula. 

So, the first qualifying hit for “plaster” comes to us from a February 22, 2006 entry in The Washington Oculus, a blog by Michael Grass of the Washington Post. The entry tells of a recent visit he paid to New York City, where one of his souvenirs was “a strip of photobooth photos (at right), taken from inside a photobooth in someone’s apartment. Where can I get a nifty in-home photobooth?” A pretty solid hit for a first try, I’d say. I’d love to know whose in-home photobooth it is, and this begs a larger question: just how many personal in-home booths are out there (excluding Hollywood)? Having never seen one myself, I’m curious to know. Grass even provides a photo of his photostrip; nice, classic black and white. Oh, and the “plaster” in question came in numerous descriptions of the renovations to the home of the University of Michigan’s daily newspaper, in another entry on the same page. Stay tuned for the next entry and send in any suggestions you have for a better name for our new diversion.

May 06, 2006

odile_marchoul.jpgOdile Marchoul, creator of the project she calls La photo-sculpture, has taken a photobooth photo every week since 1999. The photos, always in a set of four square, taken by a digital “Photo-Vision” booth, trace a remarkable timeline of subtle changes, daily moods, and life changing events, from getting a job to having a baby. As Marchoul writes,

it’s a project that i would like to inscribe in time & space, that will grow and change over the years. it’s a picture of my face, a face that is changing. in this project i consider myself as a living ‘subject’, a sculpture that is under construction.

The project has been archived in the Projects section. Thanks to JK for reminding us of it recently.

Photo: “vienna, 16.04.2003 wien-mitte, noon. I’m going to the airport.”

Brian | 8:09 am | Projects
May 05, 2006

richard_fretwell_07.jpgIt all started with a Google search, as most things do, these days. I was looking for more videos featuring photobooths — you know they’re out there — and I came across this post on from a director of photography who needed to shoot a scene for a music video in which a photobooth flash goes off, with the requirement that the flash be able to be synched to the shutter of the camera he was using to shoot the scene.

The message was posted in January, and I began looking around to see the work that the cinematographer, Tom Townend, had done. I came across what looked like a somewhat incomplete but at least recent list on the music video database, but no luck with photobooths in any of the videos listed there.

The forum thread gets a little off-topic, but Townend responded with an update later on, saying that the photobooth used for the shoot eventually became “a build in the studio (for ‘booth pov’ shot).” Now I knew at least what I was looking for, and as I tried a little more searching today, I came across Townend’s management company page, with many more samples of his (really nice) work, including videos for Doves (great song, great video by Lynne Ramsay) and Arctic Monkeys. The video for the song “New York” by Stephen Fretwell, a young singer from Scunthorpe by way of Manchester, for which Tom Townend was the director of photography with director Daniel Wolfe, ends with a series of inside-the-booth shots of Fretwell as the flash goes off. Mystery solved, and one more addition to the list of Photobooths in Music Videos.

Brian | 4:55 pm | Music