THE PHOTOBOOTH BLOG

Archive: History

January 12, 2014

It’s been a busy few months around here, and as we end 2013, enter 2014, and prepare for the upcoming 2014 International Photobooth Convention, it’s time to take stock of the latest additions to the site.

We start with Le Photomémo, un jeu de mémoire. This limited edition memory game uses beautiful vintage French Photomaton photos as the cards which players are challenged to remember and match. The game was created by Les instantés ordinaries; check out their site for this and other lovely photo projects. Thanks to Les Matons for sending us a copy!

Next, a few locations. First, another Ace Hotel means another black and white photobooth, this one at the Ace Hotel, Shoreditch. Angelenos, now that I’ve moved from L.A., I’m counting on one of you to visit the new Ace Hotel there and send us info about their booth.

Next, a photobooth at a mall — yes, they still exist! This one is at the Illinois Star Centre Mall in Marion. Thanks to Stephanie for sending us the photos and info.

And second, a new black and white machine at the Biltmore Cabaret in Vancouver, a project by Fotoautomaton.

Please send us your location updates, as the world of photochemical booths is constantly changing, and we can only keep up with your help.

As always, we have a few more TV shows to add to our ever-growing tally, one old and one new. Thanks to Rob and Anthony for tipping us off to a great, fleeting photobooth appearance in the pilot of the “The Fugitive,” the television show that inspired the Harrison Ford film (which also features a photobooth, strangely enough).

And second, from 2012, an episode of the U.K. children’s TV show “Shaun the Sheep,” part of the wonderful family of Aardman creations, in which Shaun has to visit a photobooth when he discovers he’s accidentally been cut out of the farmer’s family photo. Thanks to Katherine for the tip.

Two recent films have been added to our list over the last few weeks, both contributed by our French friends Les Matons. First, from the trailer of Jonathan Caouette’s Walk Away Renee, we see some of the same photobooth photos of Caouette and his mother, Renee, that he used in his first film, Tarnation.

Second, a French romantic comedy, La chance de ma vie, in which a photo-themed rom-com montage features some photobooth-style photos.

Finally, the biggest event for me in the past few months: a visit to Auto Photo Canada in Montréal. For more than ten years, I’d been hearing about the Grosterns and their photobooth business, and I’d always wanted to have an opportunity to visit.

A trip to Montreal in November, which involved cold weather and a lot of free time, offered that chance. After a false start in which I ended up at their old warehouse, which they’d vacated months before, I spent a great afternoon with Jeff and George and their colleagues, talking booths and listening to their great stories.

I’m very grateful to Jeff and George for their hospitality, and for taking the time to show me around the offices, warehouse, and shop. I got to hear first-hand the long and illustrious history of Auto Photo Canada, and see their machines and their process in action. Meags Fitzgerald was working on a project there that day, as well, so it was a nice chance to catch up with her, too. My visit once again proved that the photobooth business is filled with interesting, friendly people, and I was very glad to have had the chance to stop by.

Auto Photo Canada

Auto Photo Canada

Auto Photo Canada

Auto Photo Canada

Auto Photo Canada

We’ll be planning the Convention in Chicago over the next few months, and will have more updates as soon as they’re available. Happy new year!

July 27, 2013

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Lou Southgate sent us an update on a project she’s been working on lately, a public photobooth project inspired by the work of photobooth pioneer Franco Vaccari.

After Franco Vaccari, 2013 was produced live at my graduation show last month as a homage to the great Franco Vaccari. With my work responding to amateur practices in photography, the work has always been an interest of mine and it was an amazing experience to make! My audience were invited to place their strip on the gallery wall and this took place across 4 days. The work wouldn’t have been possible without the loan and sponsor of an analogue photobooth by Stuart at Retro-me. Stuart and his team were absolutely amazing throughout the install and take down of the exhibition.

All the strips from the exhibition are currently being scanned and will be put on my website over the next few weeks. Further to this, I have started to curate sets from the strips for a future exhibition on Warren Street, London which opens on the 17th of July 2013.

Thanks to Lou for keeping us updated on her work.

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July 26, 2013

We have a brief note today about two exhibitions in Europe that feature the photobooth in one way or another. Thanks to Ole and Les Matons for letting us know about the shows.

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First, at the Vögele Kultur Zentrum in Pfäffikon, Switzerland, is a show entitled “Verantwortung: Zum Temperament einer Haltung,” on now through September 22. The J’adore aglisia photobooth project is part of the show. The project, which we covered back in 2009, is a collaboration between RAFAA and Ole Krestchmann.

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Not so far away in Vichy, France, Instantanés ordinaries have put on an exhibition of photobooth portraits, on view now through September 1. We’d love to hear from readers who’ve made it to either show to hear more about what they were like. Thanks again to everyone who let us know about these events.

September 08, 2012

Thanks to Birna Kleivan for sending in a number of articles about the photobooth that she’s written in various Danish, Swedish, and English publications over the years. From the article on the photobooth for The Great Danish Encyclopedia to an interview with Jan Wenzel for an English interiors magazine, she’s covered a lot of territory.

Check out our In Print section for all of the new additions. Thanks, Birna!

February 20, 2012

Tonight is my last in Switzerland, after a wonderful almost-week filled with good times hanging out with old friends, quality time spent thinking about, talking about, and using photobooths, plus a few mountain railways and raclette thrown in for authenticity’s sake.

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On Saturday, I headed down to Montreux and up into the mountains and Rochers-de-Naye for some snow and sunshine before returning to the Musée one last time. I shot some more footage and took some strips with Danny, Carole, and Siobhan.

One for the road

We enjoyed a walk down to the lake and through Ouchy, and planned to meet up in Geneva later that night. Danny went on his way back to Istanbul (eventually), while the London and Chicago contingents and I met up at Curiositas for a tasty dinner. Anthony, Andrea, Carole, Siobhan, and I all said goodbye until May, which isn’t so far away.

On Sunday, I headed to Zürich, and immediately upon arrival, sought out Martin Balke, the father of the Swiss photobooth, with whom I spent the rest of the day. We talked, we took photos, we looked inside the machine, we talked some more… He and his family treated me to an authentic Swiss dinner, and I very much enjoyed spending time with them.

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It was a real pleasure getting to know Martin and hearing fifty years of stories from this brilliant and passionate man, who still maintains the only native Swiss photobooth still active in the country. Now that Anthony’s refurbished Model 14 has arrived at the Musée in Lausanne, Martin’s machine has some company, but his photoautomat is unique survivor, a different strain of photobooth altogether. Though I’d seen scans of the photos it produces, there’s nothing like holding them in your hand; they’re quite simply the best photobooth photos I’ve ever seen.

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This morning, after a few more funiculars and cog railways, I met up with Martin again for more good conversation, and then spent an enlightening hour and a half researching Prontophot, the Swiss photobooth company that started in the 1930s and was later taken over by Photo-Me, from material in the collection of the Swiss National Museum. Thanks to Nora, whom I met in Lausanne, for tipping me off to the stuff, and to Betty at the Museum for taking the time to show it to me. There were some fascinating finds in those files…

Tomorrow, it’s back to Los Angeles, and less than three months before the photobooth convention. We heard from many people from all over the world at the Musée who pledged to come to L.A. for the convention, so now we’d better make it great. We’ll keep you posted.

January 13, 2012

Just as I wrap up some work on “Photobooths in Cinema” for the upcoming show in Lausanne next month, I heard today from a friend about yet another 1928/1929 silent/sound film that seems to feature a photobooth.

As you may remember, the two earliest films we’ve yet found that feature a photobooth are Pal Fejos’ Lonesome (opened in New York September 30, 1928 and released January 20, 1929), a silent released with added talking sequences shortly after its original release, and Welcome, Danger (released October 12, 1929), originally made as a silent film and then re-edited with added footage as Harold Lloyd’s first talking picture.

Today, we learned of a third film, The Shopworn Angel, which opened in New York after Lonesome, on December 29, 1928, but was released in theaters a week before Lonesome, on January 12, 1929. The film is mostly silent but was released with two talking sequences, and stars Gary Cooper and Nancy Carroll. It’s also not to be confused with the 1938 remake of the same name, starring Jimmy Stewart.

So far, the only evidence of the photobooth is this lovely photograph, a cropped version of a photo found on the What About Bobbed? Tumblr (where we were directed by our helpful tipster) as well as the Gary Cooper Scrapbook. In the still, we see the booth, complete with not-quite-full front wall, adjustable stool, and flash bulb visible, as Gary Cooper and Nancy Carroll look admiringly at a photograph taken in the machine. I hope to see the film at some point, and see if this scene shows up, to add more to the story of the photobooth in its early days. Thanks to Nancy for the tip!

Brian | 3:48 pm | History, Movies
December 18, 2011

The new year is nearly upon us, and it’s just two months to go until the opening of photobooth exhibition at the Musée de l’Elysee in Lausanne, Switzerland. We mentioned the show here back in September, and in the intervening months, we’ve been working on our contribution to the exhibition, and hearing from others in the community about the show. If you’re a fan of the history and art of the photobooth, it’s safe to say that it would be a good idea to find a way to make it to Switzerland between February and May of next year.

From the museum’s website:

When the first photobooths were set up in Paris in 1928, the Surrealists used them heavily and compulsively. Within minutes, and for a small price, the machine offered them, in the field of portraiture, an experience similar to automatic writing. Since then, generations of artists have been fascinated by the photobooth concept. From Andy Warhol to Arnulf Rainer, Thomas Ruff, Cindy Sherman and Gillian Wearing, many used it to play with their identity, tell stories, or simply create worlds.

The show includes over 300 exhibits and brings together different media — oil paintings, lithographs, edited films /videos and screenings — revealing the extent of the influence of the photobooth within the artistic community.

I’ll be attending the opening, and I look forward to meeting some of the other artists, historians, and enthusiasts who will be in attendance, as well as old friends from the community who will be making the trip from the U.S. and elsewhere in Europe. We will report back on the show for those who aren’t able to make it. Let us know if you’re coming and we’ll make a point of meeting up in snowy Lausanne.

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 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
September 18, 2011

It’s time for some more updates. This round is brought to you thanks completely to our contributors around the globe, without whom we’d be, well, a lot smaller and less well-informed.

First, thanks to everyone who’s written to let us know about the upcoming photobooth exhibition in Switzerland next February. The show, titled “Derrière le rideau: l’esthétique du photomaton” (“Behind the Curtain: The Beauty of the Photobooth”), has veritably set the photobooth world on fire, if such a thing is possible.

We’ve heard about the show, which will take place at the Musee de l’Elysee, a photography museum in Lausanne, from folks all over the world, artists and enthusiasts alike. From the sound of it, the show seems as though it will bring together an impressive collection of artwork as well as an examination of the history, the technology, and the cultural impact of the booth. We’re working on a contribution to the show, and I hope we’ll be able to attend at some point during its run, from February 17 to May 20, 2012.

Next up, we’ve got a number of updates on locations, including a couple of firsts. First off, our first photobooth listing in Ireland! If you’re planning a trip to the Emerald Isle, be sure to put Shebeen Chic, a restaurant, bar, and music venue in Dublin, on your itinerary. Ireland’s only photochemical photobooth will be waiting for you there. We’ve been hearing about this location for awhile, and thanks to Imogen for submitting photos and info for our directory.

Another first, here in the U.S.: our first location in state of Indiana. Thanks to Trent for letting us know about his booth at Albert Photographic in Chesterton, Indiana. Our Photobooth Directory has now reached the magical number of 30 states (plus Washington, D.C.), and we’re happy to see the list continue to grow. Send us an update or a new location if you’ve got one.

We also have some new listings in some established photobooth meccas: first, Portland, Oregon, home to two new locations, at Spirit of 77 and Beulahland. Thanks, Victoria!

And finally, we have two new locations in Los Angeles, at The Smell and at The One Eyed Gypsy, both downtown. Thanks, Emma and Raul!

We also heard from Dutch photographer Daniel Heikens this week about his new book (available here on Blurb.com) of facial hair in the photobooth. He used the wonderful booth at the RayKo Photo Center in San Francisco to do his work. Thanks, Daniel.

Next up, we’ll be getting to some long-overdue updates to our Movies and TV section, thanks to tips from our watchful eyes around the world. For now, though, that’s all. Thanks again, everyone.