August, 2007

August 28, 2007


As long as we’ve been running, which is just about two and a half years now, we’ve been planning a section devoted to photobooths in music. It’s a natural corollary to our looks at movies, television, and printed media, and it’s a topic that is rife with fascinating examples. We’ve always had a sub-section devoted to music videos, but with the head start we had on the movies section and the photobooth directory from the predecessor to this site, we had more than enough to work with, and music went by the wayside.

Well, after much organizing, gathering, and stalling followed by working, we are pleased to present our latest effort, Photobooths in Music. The section is divided into three categories. The first is an expanded and updated look at Photobooths in Music Videos, from Madness and Elvis Costello to Jessica Simpson and Natasha Bedingfield, with a lot of interesting bands and musicians in between.

pop_levi_cover.jpgThe second section takes a look at the use of photostrips, and to a lesser extent photobooths themselves, in album art, on the covers and in the liner notes of LPs, CDs, and other recorded media. These run the gamut from well-known classics like Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville to more obscure works like Electrelane’s single for “The Bells” and “Photolab 9000″ by the Swedes.

The final section examines the role of photobooths in song lyrics, ranging from a passing reference in a lyric to the title and subject of a song. From mega-bands like U2 to singer-songwriters like Elliott Smith, musicians have used the idea of the photobooth and the photos it produces to convey a host of different ideas and feelings. Bands like The Books and Death Cab for Cutie have even named songs after the photo-making machines; my new favorite is “Photobooth Curtain” by School for the Dead.

We’d like to thank everyone whose contributions have added immensely to our store of knowledge, and we’d also like to acknowledge and thank Mr. Mixup, who will be curating the Music section along with us, as we owe many of the items in this new section to his years of research and collecting.

We know that what we have is by no means definitive, and we hope the launch of this new section will spur a thousand contributions from readers to help us make it more complete. With that, please, enjoy Photobooths in Music.

Brian | 8:31 am | Music, Site News
August 27, 2007


woolworths_booth_ad.jpgA brief trip to Santa Barbara gave us the opportunity to scout out a few photobooths in the area, bringing our California total to somewhere around fifty booths. On our way up the coast, we stopped at the Woolworth Museum, an informal collection of Woolworth memorabilia and related items in an old Woolworth location in Oxnard. After a tasty breakfast at the cafe, we took some photos in their beautiful Model 11 booth, though the chemicals are in desperate need of changing. Even more interesting that the booth itself was the great photobooth advertising display in the front window of the cafe, a backlit rectangular tower featuring enlarged photostrips slowly blinking on and off. I’d never seen anything quite like it; a small plaque on the bottom indicates that it is a product of the Auto-Photo Company of California.

In Santa Barbara, I had to rely on the kindness of a movie theater cashier who told me that while her theater did not have a booth, another one down the street did, as did a costume store a few blocks in the other direction on the same street. So, I took a set of photos at the Fiesta 5 Theatre’s color photobooth and then headed a few blocks down to Scavenge, to use their black-and-white booth, which sits in the entryway, almost outside.

August 24, 2007

Troubled times at Photo-Me International: yesterday saw a news report about the mounting pressure from shareholders on Photo-Me’s bosses to resign; apparently, the pressure was too much for chairman Vernon Sankey and chief executive Serge Crasnianski to bear, and today, they have been forced to resign.

According to the BBC, two of the investment companies that own a sufficient chunk of the company have been unhappy with management for some time.

…Principle Capital and Cycladic said they felt that progress with the sale and other aspects of a strategic review launched last year was insufficient.

They accused Mr Sankey and Mr Crasnianski of “operational mismanagement” and noted a “long history of poorly managing investor expectations.”

As we’ve said before, time will tell what effect these changes have on the world of public photobooths, which are just one aspect of Photo-Me’s business.

Brian | 8:50 am | In the News
August 20, 2007

It’s not clear what impact this news will have on the world of photobooths, but it seems that Photo-Me Intl. has found “sufficient interest in its vending division” to continue with the process of unloading the division on the highest bidder, says Reuters.

Brian | 4:03 pm | In the News
August 16, 2007

click.jpgThe BBC is a behemoth of an organization, so we can’t expect their opinions to be uniform across their various arms, as we learned this week.

Last year, we were called on by BBC4 to be subject experts in their story on the state of the photobooth. Last week, we were chosen by the BBC technology show “Click,” as one of three sites profiled during their brief tour of the web called “Webscapes.” This time, though, they called us a “very silly” and “weird little blog.”

Admittedly, they had a few nice things to say, describing it as “great fun” and having “a wealth of information,” but the tone of the report came off as just a little condescending. But we shouldn’t be too worried, I suppose; who can take a technology show seriously that uses Internet Explorer to demonstrate the sites they’re profiling? Come on BBC, get with the program!

This is a weird little blog dedicated to the humble photo booth. While you may think there would be very little to say about these photographic relics, this blog surprises with its breadth of knowledge and humour.


This is wonderfully pointless site, but the enthusiasm which has gone into its construction makes it a fun way to while away some spare time.

We’d like to think that for those who visit, we’re the exact opposite of pointless, but who are we to say… Read the online version of the text and watch the segment in their video archive.

Thanks to Paul for the tip.

August 12, 2007


In the premiere episode of TLC’s L.A. Ink, which aired last week, we were introduced to Kat von D and her crew of tattoo artists as Kat oversaw the construction of her new shop. The opening credits feature the entire cast posing in a nicely decorated photobooth in her shop, and as we watched the shop come together, the only bit of furnishing yet in the shop was a generic gray Photo-Me booth, waiting to be put in its place.

When I visited Lucas Echo Park in March, I was informed that their photobooth was gone and had been sold to a woman for her tattoo shop; now it all makes sense. Kat’s shop, called High Voltage, turns out to be two blocks from’s western HQ. It looks like the shop will feature the photobooth as an added touch, like the skate-ramp Kat requested in this episode. We’ll be keeping tabs on the show to see what develops.

August 11, 2007

In this week’s ‘arts online’ column on the website of the Times of London, gets top billing:


Modern digital photo booths have taken the romance out of the self-portrait process (as exemplified in the film Amélie). No longer do we get those four separate attempts to look good. This community site aims to harness the power of its users to locate every last old-style ‘dip and dunk’ booth left on the planet, while inviting everyone to contribute their pictures and stories. There are also sections on artists who used the photo-strip style, including Andy Warhol.

Brian | 9:32 am | In the News
August 05, 2007


The Orange County Fair, now in its 115th year, is held annually in Costa Mesa, California, and is home to a popular and well-maintained collection of photobooths. The photobooths, 23 in all, are in three locations around the fairgrounds, and are of four types: three and four photos per strip in black and white and in color.

When I heard that the fair had real, old-style photobooths, I had ideas that I’d head down and try out all of the booths, because how many could there be — four, five, six at the most? When I found out there were 23, and each one ran five bucks a pop, I had to modify my plans, and decided to take at least one strip in each different kind of booth, and try at least one booth in each of the sections of the park.oc_6.jpgThe booths are all decked out with large signs that read “PHOTOS” for the black and white booths and “COLOR” for the color ones, and all booths have banners on top that flap in the breeze.

The booths I tried were all working very well, and the entire operation runs very smoothly thanks to the attendants at each group of booths who sell specially made tokens. I had a nice talk with Junior about the company that he works for and the future of the photobooths. The company that suplies these photobooths sticks to fairs only, and does about eight a year between February and October, up and down the west coast. The interiors of most of the booths appear the same as most I’ve seen, except for a small rectangle cut out near the floor for the power cable, and all of the booths are missing the plaque detailing the date of manufacture, serial number, and model number. A few booths had a “Jail” or “Miss U.S.A.” hinged cutout attached to the wall to add a little something to the photos.

The three-shot strips (one in color and one in black and white) were the most interesting — the color strip came out particularly nicely. The other booths I tried were three black and white machines (one, two, and three), and a color machine. It was tough to keep all of the booths straight and remember which ones I’d used, especially without any serial or model numbers. I came up with some letters and numbers to keep them separate, which is how they’re cataloged in our directory.

I had considerably more luck here than at the Ventura County Fair where I went the day before, which had no photobooths, even though I had called ahead to confirm. I think the woman I spoke with thought I meant the “Old Time” western sepia-toned costume photo stall; I guess I need to be more specific. The Magnum, P.I. ride I saw made the trip worthwhile, though.