THE PHOTOBOOTH BLOG
May 26, 2020

We last noted the iconic photobooth portrait of Robert Johnson—until that time one of only two widely accepted, legitimate portraits of the blues musician—in a blog entry back in 2005. Over the years, other photos have surfaced, including one allegedly depicting Johnson with fellow bluesman Johnny Shines written up in the New York Times in 2017, but this month, a second Robert Johnson photobooth portrait has emerged.

The upcoming memoir by Johnson’s step-sister, Annye Anderson, is previewed in this month’s issue of Vanity Fair, and the cover image is advertised as “third verified picture of him in existence,” taken in the mid-1930s in a “make-your-own-photo place” in Memphis, Tennessee.

Excerpted from the book, here is Mrs. Anderson’s account of the day the photo was taken:

There was a make-your-own-photo place on Beale Street, near Hernando Street. I’ve since learned that a man named John Henry Evans owned it. The photo place was right next door to Pee Wee’s, the bar where Mr. Handy wrote his blues. One day when I was 10 or 11 years old, I walked there with Sister Carrie and Brother Robert. I remember him carrying his guitar and strumming as we went. You just walk in, drop a nickel in the slot, pull the curtain, and do it. There was no photographer. I had my picture made. Brother Robert got in the booth, and evidently made a couple.

I kept Brother Robert’s photograph in my father’s trunk that sat in the hallway of the Comas house while we lived there with my mother after my father died. After my mother died, we could only take so many things. I took my photographs with me, wrapped in a handkerchief. I only carried a few belongings to Ma and Pops Thompson’s house. When I moved in with my sister Charlyne, I bought some furniture. I stored the photograph, along with others, in a cedar chest I bought. I’ve always had this photograph.

Thanks to Charles for the tip.

May 05, 2020

With the extra time on our hands lately, we’ve had the chance to catch up on some backlogged to-do items, from back-end fixes to new content. Hopefully our readers won’t notice much of the behind-the-scenes work, but we can say that the blog archives, more than 450 entries stretching back 15 years, are now fully browsable again, by year, month, and category, to give a few ways of digging in.

Next up, new locations, from around the world:

We start with two new booths in public, outdoor locations in Prague. We’ve always felt like Prague could be a good photobooth town, and we’re happy to see two more booths, at the National Theater and at the National Gallery, added to the tally there. Thanks, Petr!

Next, a new home for an existing booth in Zürich, Switzerland.

When I visited Patrick in April, 2019, he was already planning the move, and awaiting the official go-ahead, which finally came and allowed him to move the booth where he and I took a strip outside Kosmos to another, more prime location outside Kanzlei Club.

Thanks to Michelle for contributing the photos for this new location.

I don’t know if I noted it between my visits to Lausanne in April and Berlin in August, but we learned that the booth on Goldbrunnenstraße in Zürich, operated by the machine’s inventor, Martin Balke—which for my money made the best photobooth photos I’ve ever taken—was taken out of service when Martin moved out of his apartment this summer. While we’re very glad to know about Patrick’s two booths in Zürich, we can’t help but mourn the loss the last remaining horizontal strip Swiss machine in Switzerland. The machines live on in Berlin, so visit them while you can!

Now, on to the pictures… We’re always coming across new films, with the grand total on our site now up to 226 different films spanning nearly a hundred years of cinema. This time, a few more recent additions.

First, thanks to our long-time contributor Charles, we have the first Chuck Norris film added to the list, a real cause for celebration. Code of Silence features a brief shot of a booth in Chicago’s Union Station. A few years later, the film’s director, Andrew Davis, would employ a photobooth in a much more integral way in The Fugitive.

Also thanks to Charles, we’ve added the 1975 exploitation film Just the Two of Us (originally released in 1970 as The Dark Side of the Mirror), which features a lovely booth in the final shot of the film.

We also got around to posting a single photobooth frame in the credits of the delightful Paddington 2, highly recommended for the whole family if anyone’s looking for brilliant, escapist fun on many levels.



In Ron Howard’s 2019 documentary Pavarotti, about the legendary tenor Luciano Pavarotti, we see a brief shot of a few frames from a photostrip capturing Pavarotti and his first wife.

Thanks to Christian for the tip on a 1998 film, Love Is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon, featuring Derek Jacobi as the painter Francis Bacon, which features two extended scenes shot from the perspective of the photobooth camera.



The 2017 Morrissey biopic England is Mine includes a few photobooth photos in a scene in a Manchester record store where young Stephen awaits an answer to the “musician wanted” advert he’s posted there.

And now to the very recent: the Pixar release Onward joins Up in the “photobooth in a Pixar film” club.

Moving on to photobooths in music, we have a few albums to report, and a lot of songs. First, a 2016 album by the Fruit Bats called “Absolute Loser.“



And next, a 1987 album by Tom Verlaine, with a lovely color photobooth photo as the cover, Flash Light.



This past week, we added 33 songs with photobooths in the lyrics or title of the song. Rather than just list them all, I’ve created a mega-lyric featuring a line from each of the songs, which gives an idea of the way the image is used in these (mostly contemporary) songs. Perhaps the successor to my “Photobooths in Cinema” talk will be a three minute mashup of every photobooth-related lyric I can find.

Click the lyric to visit the page for that song.

The Photobooth Song”

Dive into a photobooth
Snap it for Japan, yeah oh
Duct tape you in my roof
Kiss you in the photo booth
Count it down, see the camera flash
Pick up all the photos and put in more cash
When we were chillin’
Smiling in the photo booth
I held the picture in my eye
From a photo booth near by
You’re not allowed to tell the truth
And the photo booth’s a liar
In the shrine
Found a photo booth
Black and white strip
From that photo booth
Nobody is hangin’ ’round makin’ out in the photo booth
Last Friday I see you in the photo booth
Makes my teeth hurt like airplane bathrooms
Photomaton soixante-dix-sept…
And photo booths she said
What she loves is sex in parked cars and the photo booth at Cha Cha
Take photos in the photo booth
The summer of my wasted youth
Dentro al Photobooth “Tre, due, uno: cheese” (click)
You felt that need to pile us all
Our smiles on call inside a tiny photo booth
Singing karaoke, killing Backstreet
Touching in the photo booth
Their surveillance state is not just a freakin‘ photo booth
That night we had our picture made
In a photo booth in town
And hope that the memories develop in the darkness
Like photos do, I wish I had a time-machine and a photo-booth
We took some pictures in a photo booth
Was it just you and her?
Did you go in the photo booth?
Snipers hiding in the photo booths
Gettin’ stuck with you in that photo booth
Photobooth, kissing youth, midnight bulletproof
Mein Spiegelbild zieht Fratzen, so wie Paare in der photo booth
Jeder-jeder wünscht sich so ‘n Beruf
We stuck that picture in a bottle
Sleeping silently in a photo booth
On the road where I caught a cab
And you thought that I’d leave you once I learned the truth
When we got lost as hell in that old photo booth
Pull the photo booth curtain
Check if the bar is open
Silver quarters in a photo booth
It printed little pictures of you
Get some change
Photos from a booth
Rifle range
And when the lights start flashing like a photobooth
And the stars exploding
We’ll be fireproof
a photobooth snapshot fading.
there ain’t too much left.
And screaming
High above the cities
Sings a lonely photobooth
(Gone in a flash)

April 01, 2020

Passing on this sad but not unexpected bit of news from Rafa at Autofoto:

Dear friends,

I hope this email finds you and your loved ones well.

We are living extremely disruptive times and need to follow the scientists advice. So we are taking the inevitable decision of postponing the International Photobooth Convention this June. We can assure you we will be holding a convention in London in the not too distant future—we can’t wait to welcome you to our amazing city!

We’ll announce the exact date when we have all recovered and are ready to celebrate

I hope you all keep safe (and sane).

Let’s keep in touch,

Rafa and the AUTOFOTO team

March 05, 2020

June 12–14, AutoFoto is hosting the 2020 International Photobooth Convention. The event will see photobooth artists, technicians, enthusiasts, and historians from around the world descend on London to enjoy the selection of analogue photobooths available in the Capital.

To accompany the Convention, a number of exhibitions will be held in various venues. Consequently, the event organizers are looking for submissions of artwork made in analogue photobooths since 2010. Artwork can consist of a single strip or multiple strips, but must have been made in an analogue, photochemical photobooth. Works made with mixed media will be accepted, as long as the photobooth strip is featured.

In 2010, Instagram began, and with it, the selfie became a phenomenon. This open call seeks analogue selfies taken in the photobooth, a machine often associated with ID photographs. The machine creates four exposures, one after the other in quick succession, traditionally portraying the head and shoulders shot which has become so integral to identity. But, once the curtain is drawn, this enclosed space allows a freedom of expression. A few of these rare machines still exist, and are being used in creative ways by artists across the world. The event will showcase this work, as well as encourage new work to be made for the purpose of this exhibition.

Submission information:

There is no fee for this submission.
Please submit up to 5 images, 1000 pixels along the longest edge, to ipc20@autofoto.org

Please include where and when the images were made.
Deadline: 1 April 2020

Final Artwork Specification:

Final images must be able to fit in an A3 sized space
Mixed Media is accepted.
Please note selected works may be used for promotional purposes.

Brian | 3:28 am | Art, Community
February 07, 2020

We’re pleased to report some exciting news: 2020 will see another International Photobooth Convention, this time in London, presented by AUTOFOTO, who manage a network of analog photobooths in the U.K. and Spain.

The Convention will be held Friday to Sunday, June 12–14, 2020, in London. As usual, the title is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but the event will be a relaxed get-together of people who love analog photobooths, featuring talks, screenings, art projects, and a London photobooth tour. The organizers ask those who plan on attending to RSVP via email.

This announcement is also a good opportunity to report on the last of my 2019 European photobooth visits, back in October. I met Rafa and Marco of AUTOFOTO at the Hoxton Hotel, where we hung out, talked photobooths, brainstormed about the convention, and took some photos in the booth in the hotel’s lobby.

I also stopped by their booth at Mercato Metroplitano, another nice booth in a great location. I was pleased to see a reinvigorated photobooth scene in London, especially after bearing witness to the death of the old photochemical establishment era in shops and post offices back in 2004.



I’m looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting other like-minded photobooth lovers in London in June, and hope to see some of our readers there.

October 27, 2019

A quick trip to New York this weekend afforded the opportunity to check in on a few of the city’s working photochemical booths. First, I hadn’t yet had a chance to visit the booth at The Folly on Houston, though we’d had the booth listed here since last year. It was nice and quiet on a beautiful Saturday at mid-day, which meant that I wasn’t turned away for trying to bring a six-year-old into a bar, even if it was just to use the booth. The machine is working fine, and turned out a nice, if slightly grimy strip.

Our next stop was The Whitney Museum, where we’d visited last year to check out the Warhol exhibition. The photobooth installed to coincide with the exhibition was still there, even after the exhibition closed, which was a pleasant surprise. I’ve created a new entry for the machine, not because it’s a new machine, but because it’s got a brand-new appearance, and because it seemed necessary to note the booth’s claim to fame as having the highest-priced photostrip of any machine I’ve ever seen. A whopping $10 gets you “Whitney Souvenir Folio” specially designed to house the photostrip, revealing each photo in its own window (and allowing the fourth photo to show through the front cover), but still, in a world where the $1 photobooth is still a thing, it’s hard to imagine spending $10 on a strip more than once.

I balked when I saw the price initially, but of course had to take a strip just because, and I was pleasantly surprised by the folio. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen an add-on accessory for a photostrip offered at the point of purchase, so to speak, and though it takes the strip about as far from its usual status as an everyday, sometimes frivolous keepsake as you can imagine, I didn’t dislike it as much as I initially thought. It’s a nice idea, very well executed.

This morning, we had a chance to check in on booth at the Ace Hotel, and besides noting a price increase (now $6, plus tax, for a total of $6.54, which might be the highest-priced accessory-less strip around; New York prices!), I also was very impressed by the quality of the photos. Definitely the best of the weekend, and maybe some of the best I’ve seen from a public booth in a long time. Well done! And even though New York is no longer the photobooth mecca it was when we started this site nearly fifteen years ago, it still has at least a few nice booths in some great locations.

October 15, 2019

We’re a little late to this, but we wanted to bring your attention to reporter Julia Caron’s story on Canadian photobooths, produced for CBC Quebec earlier this year. The story was presented on the radio, titled The Last Photobooth in Quebec,” as well as in a web version, “iPhones Killed the Photobooth.” There’s also a minute-long video version on Facebook. All of the versions feature friends of the site Meags Fitzgerald, who acts as Caron’s guide through the stories and locations of Montreal’s legendary photobooths, and Jeff Grostern, who provides background on the history of his family business, Auto-Photo Canada. Thanks to Julia for letting us know about the story.



Photostrips of Julia Caron with Amber Dearest, Meags Fitzgerald and Jeff Grostern, in the Place-des-Arts booth in the Montreal Metro.

September 24, 2019



We learned of the legendary (and plentiful) outdoor photobooths of Berlin right around the time we started Photobooth.net, and a visit—a pilgrimage—has been a long time coming. I hadn’t been to Germany in nearly 30 years, and had never been to Berlin, before a family trip the summer. As much as I had heard about Berlin in general and its photobooths in particular, our experiences more than lived up to the hype.

Before arriving in Berlin, we spent some time in southern and western Germany, and passed through Köln, where we found our first booth, on Ebertplatz. As we arrived, a van was parked right in front of the booth, and for a second, I thought maybe we’d hit the jackpot and stumbled upon the technician on rounds, but alas, the van was just resupplying a food stand next to the booth. We squeezed past it and hopped in the booth for a strip of photos (and a van-enforced off-center photo of the booth).

As we reached Berlin, I had no illusions of returning to the days of the great “Chicago Marathon” of 2005, where I hit more than 20 photobooths in one night, but I hoped to find as many of Berlin’s 20+ booths as I could convincingly squeeze into our otherwise museum- and playground-filled itinerary, without too many out-of-the-way walks. I had flashbacks to a rainy walk to Sainsbury’s or a disappointed trip to the Queensway Post Office in London, and imagined those fruitless trips with kids in tow. Luckily, those fears were never realized, as every booth we visited in Berlin was in great working order, a tribute to the diligence and skill of Ole and Asger and the Photoautomat.de technicians.

We spent eight days in Berlin, and managed to stop by eleven different booths, which, factoring in an adjustment for old age, seemed to me a pretty decent showing. We found booths indoors and outdoors, singly and in pairs, delivering photos on glossy paper and matte, arranged horizontally and vertically, and we enjoyed every one.

Our second day in Berlin, I set out to find my first booth, one I had heard about in front of C/O Berlin, a photography gallery. When I arrived, it was apparent that this booth, with the Martin Balke-design horizontal square photos, was a popular spot, with a small crowd of people waiting outside for their photos to be delivered.

As I waited to take my photos, I noticed that a woman waiting to pick up her strip had a typical vertical strip in her hand. I asked her where she’d taken those photos, as they obviously weren’t from this machine, and she explained that there was another booth inside, in the lower level of the museum. I flashed back to my “can I just pop in to see the booth and avoid the cover charge?” days, and was grateful to the kind staff at the C/O who let me zip downstairs to try out the booth, which had a beautiful exploded diagram of the photobooth transmission on the outside.

We had similarly good luck the rest of the trip, finding booths on the street, in front of empty lots, inside a planetarium, and even side-by-side, one color and one black and white.



It’s clear that the photobooths that Ole and Asger and Photoautomat.de have placed around the city and lovingly maintained for more than 15 years have become an integral part of the fabric of the city. You see them in postcards and murals, featured in advertisements, and even ripped off by pale digital imitators. It was a joy to finally get to see them for myself, and I was happy to add eight new booths to our locator in Berlin (plus one in Köln). There were many booths we didn’t get to visit, so we encourage anyone living there or planning a trip to send in more updates so we can keep our locator current.

Photobooths of Berlin, Hoch soll’n sie leben!

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.

June 17, 2019

My multi-year European photobooth safari continued this month with a visit to Vienna, where I was presenting at a conference. While I was there, I checked out two working photochemical machines, and hung out with Georg from Fotoautomat Wien.

Of all of the conversations I’ve had with European booth operators over the past four years, this one was in perhaps the most picturesque spot yet; after taking a few strips in the machine he maintains in the lobby of the 25hours Hotel, we headed up to the rooftop bar, with its magnificent view of the Vienna skyline by night.

The bar is also home to one of Georg’s digital machines, and both booths seemed well loved and popular. We talked about the same sort of questions everyone seems to be dealing with—maintenance costs, users’ awareness (or lack thereof) or analog vs. digital technologies, and the future of these machines. Thanks, Georg!

I only had time to visit one other booth during my brief trip, the machine run by Photoautomat.de located in the main court of Museumsquartier, outside in front of mumok.

The booth was in use when I arrived, and due to its particular coinage requirements (2 euros and 50 cents coins only), I headed to the museum bookshop nearby to buy a book (twist my arm) and get some change before taking my photos. They turned out well, though my attempt to capture my conference program and badge didn’t work, succumbing to the strong flash, as usual.

Next up is Berlin in August, where I plan to squeeze some family vacation in between hitting as many of the city’s famed photobooths as I can, so check back in a few months to see how well we did.