THE PHOTOBOOTH BLOG
August 26, 2022

Much has been made of late about the demise of the analog photobooth in Canada. While it’s true that the once-thriving Canadian mall and metro station photobooth scene is no more, I was pleased to find two working photochemical machines during two trips to our northern neighbor this summer. 

Back in the summer of 2018, I got a tip from our friend Meags to visit North Star Pinball in Montreal, home to a unique colo(u)r booth with a limited life expectancy. I made a pilgrimage with my father and brother, where we took a few strips and I enjoyed pointing out the unique characteristics of this special machine.



I wasn’t expecting the booth to still be kicking four years later, but during my next visit to Montreal in June of this year, I made my way to North Star Pinball, headed upstairs, and found the booth still there, and still in working order. The price of the booth had doubled, from $5 to $10 Canadian over the intervening years (tied with the booth at the Whitney Museum for priciest in my experience), but it was well worth it. Sitting in the booth, one is presented with an informative, rather wistful card explaining the significance of this booth.



One would think I’d never taken photos in a booth before by the way I placed the two strips I took face-to-face in my jacket pocket, but I prefer to think I’d meant to experiment with some direct transfer printing, and now have two color strips, each with traces of the other on it.



I’ll reiterate my advice from 2018: stop by North Star Pinball and take a strip in their booth while you still can.

A few weeks later, a family road trip brought us to Kingston, Ontario, in July, where something truly remarkable happened: for the first time in recent memory, I came across an analog photobooth I wasn’t aware of, completely by chance. For nearly 20 years, any time I’ve traveled, I’ve scoped out photobooth locations in advance and made visiting them a part of every trip. I hadn’t done any such planning for this trip, as I didn’t think there were any locations out there yet to be found.

As we walked around Kingston, though, Aimee spotted a shop, the Antique Emporium, that advertised “Vintage Photobooth Inside” on the front window. I was skeptical, but lo and behold, we found a lovely Auto-Photo Canada booth inside, and took three strips in the few minutes that remained before the shop closed.





Two other booths, neither in working order, could be seen further back in the shop.



Amidst a steady stream of depressing news about the closure of photobooths around the world, it was encouraging to find one known stalwart still producing beautiful color strips, and another heretofore unknown black and white machine quietly making distinctive strips out of the spotlight.

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