September 21, 2019

We heard the sad news yesterday that photobooth artist, Super 8 filmmaker, and gentle soul (and much more) Herman Costa passed away on September 17. Herman was the first artist we added to the Art section of the site back in April of 2005, in honor of his position as the cover artist of the catalog for the 1987 “Photomaton” art show in Rochester, New York (A Portrait of Neil Gordon, 1986).

When we put on a 25th anniversary edition of the show and reprinted the catalog with updates on all the artists, Herman was not only eager to participate, but he connected me with Linda Duchin, who, along with the late Bern Boyle, put the original show together. Herman’s help was invaluable in making the anniversary edition a success. He was excited to tell, as he put it, “The Full Story of Herman Costa Goes to the Photobooth,” and we printed most of his text in the 2012 edition of the catalog, with a few new photobooth images he’d made since, including this terrific one, Self-Portrait as Matisse in Morocco (1992).

On a personal note, I crossed paths with Herman in my other life as a film preservationist, and just this week finished work on a 1975 film he appeared in, Screentest, directed by our mutual friends Frank and Caroline Mouris. Photostrips can be seen decorating the walls of his apartment, and anyone who has seen his photobooth work will recognize his mischievous personality in the film.

Screentest (Dir. Frank and Caroline Mouris, 1975)

I wish I’d had a chance to show him the newly restored version, in which his scenes of roller skating on the Coney Island boardwalk in winter, and “licking” his mustache off (thanks to Frank’s stop-motion photography) look better than ever. We’ll miss you, Herman.


  1. 1
    Audrey L. Costa 

    Kind words said about Herman Costa. He was a special person, gentle and talented he touched many lives. He leaves behind much beauty. Is missed terribly by me, his Sister Audrey

  2. What a nice tribute. I would love to see that film. His sister Audrey, who is also an artist, is a good friend of mine… Since they appear to be similar souls I could say without doubt Herman Costa was amazing. Thank you for sharing. Lisa Elizabeth Miner (friend of Audrey Costa)

  3. 3
    Elissa Krauss 

    Hi Brian — I am Herman’s cousin. So glad to see your fine tribute to him. Do you know if the film Screentest is available to be viewed anywhere? Online? Herman is truly missed. Thanks. Elissa

  4. 4

    @Elissa, the film isn’t yet available online, but it’s something I plan to discuss with the filmmaker. In the meantime, I hope to have an opportunity to screen it in New Haven and/or New York before long. Thanks.