October, 2011

October 20, 2011

Barbara Kent, one of the last living silent film stars, passed away last week at the age of 103. She starred in films directed by William Wyler and Leo McCarey, and acted alongside such screen legends as Greta Garbo, Edward G. Robinson, and Harold Lloyd. One of her lesser-known claims to fame is the fact that she starred in two of the very first films to feature a photobooth, Lonesome (1928) and Welcome Danger (1929).

In both films, the machine takes a single photo which it returns in a small circular frame; in the case of Welcome Danger, the machine isn’t even really a booth, but still features the same technology and returns the same end product. Of course, the film is a Harold Lloyd comedy, so something manages to go wrong in the process…

October 19, 2011

The contributions seem to be flowing rapidly these days, and this week, we’ve got a varied assortment of new material to call your attention to.

First, a few additions to the otherwise neglected Music section. A Spanish band known as Parking Radio has released an album called Photomaton, with a song titled El Photomaton.

And thanks to a tip from Charles, we’ve added the Biz Markie classic “Just a Friend,” with its lyric, “Come to the picture booth/ So I can ask you some questions to see if you’re hundred proof.”

We’ve finally put a few more TV shows from Europe on the site, contributions we received awhile back but have only now managed to gather and present. First, thanks to Caitlin for telling us about a scene from the UK show Primeval:

And second, we’ve added a page for the European news show Metropolis. We mentioned the show a few months ago, and now have a permanent home for it in our TV section.

We also added another gem of a find from Les Matons: an Italian crime film called Escape from Death Row, a Lee Van Cleef vehicle with a great photobooth murder sequence.

Our In Print section has a few new additions as well. First, thanks to Siobhan for sending us scans from the magazine Oh Comely, which featured an interview with the owner of the only photochemical photobooth in Ireland.

Thanks to Kerstin for tipping us off to a new German photography book titled Photomaton: Frauen Männer Kinder, a collection of 500 photobooth photos taken between 1938 and 1945.

And finally, we’ve heard from Ginny Lloyd, the artist behind A Day at the Races, who has a new photobooth project for which she’s accepting contributions. Here are her instructions:

If you want to participate in the next photobooth book, mail in four photobooth style photos with dialogue bubbles documenting a photobooth performance by November 30th, 2011 to: PhotoBooth Book, PO Box 1424, Jupiter, FL 33468.

For quality control, no electronic submissions please — original photobooth or photobooth like photos only — no copies! No returns. Future exhibitions to be announced to participants. Be sure to use the prescribed format: photobooth style image size and include dialog bubbles.

Steps for submission:

  1. Take/make 4 photos of your photobooth performance.

  2. Put this in an envelope — do not email.

  3. On a piece of paper draw dialogue bubbles for talk, think and/or holler. Make sure you indicate which bubble goes with each photo.

  4. Clearly print your text in the bubble(s).

  5. Add the paper to the envelope.

  6. Mail envelope to PO Box 1424, Jupiter, Florida 33468 USA.

October 15, 2011

We’ve been cataloging and collecting appearances of photobooths and photostrips in cinema for more than eight years now. A few years back, we came across two films from very early on in the history of the photobooth (1928’s Lonesome and 1929’s Welcome, Danger), and we’ve got many films from the 1940s onward — with especially strong representation from the last decade or so. But until this week, the 1930s, the first full decade of the photobooth’s existence, has been missing from our list. 

I’ve always been certain that filmmakers in the 1930s would have been eager to feature the fashionable new invention in their films, but films of the 1930s aren’t the easiest to come across, and until now we hadn’t been able to find any examples of the photobooth in that decade.

I knew that The Long Night was a remake of Marcel Carné’s Le jour se lève, but I hadn’t had a chance to see if the photobooth strip in the later film had been inherited from the original. Indeed it was, and we’ve added Le jour se lève to our list.

Last month, we heard from Les Matons that a reference was made to Maurice Tourneur’s film Samson on the French Wikipedia page for Photomaton, and after some searching, we came across a copy of the film. A beautiful, massive Photomaton makes a few appearances during an early party scene in the film, overseen by a well-dressed young attendant.

Brian | 8:09 pm | History, Movies
October 13, 2011

Our week of updates continues with a slew of new TV shows with photobooths and photostrips in them. Most are from the last few years, and they come from the United States, Italy, and the U.K.

First, thanks to Marco for a tip about an Italian series called Romanzo Criminale. A mobster picks up a drop from the underside of a photobooth stool.

Marco also let us know about a British show called  Misfits, in which a character who can rewind time and change what happens sees two versions of the same photostrip.

Next, I want to thank Xiao for tipping us off to a scene in Royal Pains in which Evan (Paulo Costanzo) proposes to Paige (Brooke D’Orsay) in a photobooth.

A recent episode of Zooey Deschanel’s new show New Girl had the cast at a wedding, which naturally featured a photobooth. Several lengthy scenes in the booth were augmented by a number of shots of authentic photostrips from the machine.

The short-lived show Better with You (which I only saw because it was showing on the plane) used a photostrip in a drying slot as a theme for its opening credits and between-scene transitions. 

A scene from a recent episode of Modern Family featured an incidental pair of photostrips next to a mirror in one scene.

A recent episode of Auction Hunters had the guys stumble across an old booth in a storage locker. Read on to see more photos and our thoughts on where the booth really came from. 

And finally, the brilliant Portlandia was almost obligated to feature a photobooth, considering Portland’s recent ascendancy into the upper echelons of photobooth cities in the U.S. They didn’t disappoint, with a booth visible in the lobby of the “Deuce Hotel” in one episode this season.

Thanks again to everyone for sending in your contributions. Keep ’em coming!

Brian | 12:07 am | TV
October 10, 2011

We’ve got a raft of updates to our Movies section from across the spectrum and around the world. The films range from the 1940s to today, and include a documentary, an action film, a film noir, a comedy, an obscure sci-fi film — even a film that hasn’t even been made yet.

We begin with Antoine et Antoinette, a film by French director Jacques Becker, released in 1947. A romantic comedy about a lost lottery ticket, the film tells the story of a typographer, Antoine (Roger Pigaut) and Antoinette (Claire Mafféi), a Photomaton operator in a department store. The film adds another chapter to the still sparsely populated decade of the 1940s in our list.

Home movies and photobooth photos are key sources in the arsenal of the documentary filmmaker. In Julien Temple’s film The Future is Unwritten, we see Joe Strummer of The Clash in some terrific photobooth shots.

Thanks to Charles for letting us know about a brief, tantalizing photobooth appearance in the Don Siegel late noir The Lineup. This 1958 film has a claim to fame as the only feature film shot in the fully-built Sutro Baths in San Francisco. The baths had been converted to a skating rink by that time. We see Dancer (Eli Wallach) enter “Sutro’s” and walk past a number of great arcade attractions, including two beautiful Model 11 photobooths.

We’ve been looking out for the hard-to-find sci-fi film The Passing (1985), and finally found a copy. Two World War Two buddies take a photobooth photo together in a booth in a 7‑Eleven, in one of two different photobooth appearances in the same film — a first?

Thanks to Jaime, and a tip from two years ago, about the film Sur mes lèvres (Read My Lips). The photobooth photo plays a small but important role in revealing a surprising truth as the story unfolds. Carla is played by Emmanuelle Devos, who also makes an appearance in a photobooth in Ma vie sexuelle, and Paul by Vincent Cassel, seen here in the photobooth at Le 104 in Paris. It’s all connected…

We’ve finally gotten ahold of Hanna, a 2011 film from director Joe Wright, which features a brief but important scene with a photostrip. Hanna, living with her father in the woods, looks at a photostrip of her mother, pregnant with her, from before her mother was killed.

And finally, we’ve heard from Sam O’Donovan Jones, who’s working on a “black-comedy/horror” film called Photo Booth. You can find out more about the film on its Facebook page and website. We’ll list the film when it’s finished.

Brian | 7:52 am | Movies
October 09, 2011

We present today three new locations from up and down the Atlantic coast. 

First, thanks to artist and author Nakki Goranin for sending in info and photos of her booth located at Speaking Volumes, a bookstore in Burlington, Vermont. We’re pleased to have another new state added to our tally, and glad to have Nakki’s well-traveled booth listed in our directory.

Next, heading northeast a bit we find a color photobooth in the  Bridgewater Mall in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. Thanks to our trusty Canadian correspondent Meags Fitzgerald for passing on the scoop on this booth, which is the first outside of Halifax that we have listed for the province.

And finally, we head southwest to Orlando, Florida, a city that we know has its share of photobooths, but which has been until now un-represented in the directory. Thanks to Le Milford for breaking the ice and getting us started with photos and info on a booth at Will’s Pub. We’ve heard stories of dozens of photobooths in Orlando over the years, and without a trip planned there in the near future, we’re relying on our readers to follow Le Milford’s lead and submit these photobooths so we can add them to our directory. 

Thanks again for everyone’s contributions, and we’ll be back tomorrow with another update on Photobooths in Movies.

October 07, 2011

Thanks to Marc Bellini for sending us some photos of his one-man show in London, which just closed on September 29. 

Check out more of Marc’s work on his new website.

October 06, 2011

Steve Jobs demos Photo Booth, October 12, 2005

We’d like to take a moment to salute Steve Jobs. While we may have silently cursed the fact that soon after it was introduced, the “Photo Booth” application for the Mac filled our searches and Flickr feeds with photos of kids at the Apple Store mugging for the lens rather than the kind of photobooth news and photos we were looking for, this site wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the devices Steve Jobs created and the creativity he encouraged and enabled. 

The site is coded and designed on Macs and tinkered with over iChat and iPhone, but more generally, I don’t think I’d have the kind of interest in putting together a site like this, and in collaborating with people all over the world to make it better, were I not in love with the tools that we use to make it come together. So thank you, Steve, for the many ways you’ve touched our lives, and for the things you’ve created that help us do what we love with a little more joy and a little more magic.