September, 2005

September 30, 2005

cbs_sunday_blog.jpgThis is a fairly old story, but one we had yet to cover here on On March 13, 2005, CBS News aired a segment about photobooths on their “Sunday Morning” show, featuring interviews with, among others, Babbette Hines, Brett Ratner, and Sonny Pham from Photo-Me. Host Bill Whitaker visited various photobooth locations in the Los Angeles area, and spoke with Ratner about his booth, his friends, and his book.

The online version of the story, titled “Fun and Freedom in the Photo Booth” is a transcription of the dialogue from the piece. Strangely, it did not appear online until July 31, 2005, for unknown reasons.

Host Charles Osgood and correspondent Bill Whitaker take a needlessly naive approach to the photobooth, with ‘aw shucks’ phrases like the opening line from the report: “Those cheesy, old photo booths from everybody’s past, you know, the ones from strip malls and bus stations? Those old things are making a comeback. Suddenly they’re trendy, they’re hot.” To their credit, though, the CBS team do manage to cover a number of recent appearances by photobooths in the mainstream media, and they talk to some key players in the recent resurgence of the booth. We also see many shots of people getting into and emerging from photobooths, one of which, after careful scrutiny, I’ve identified as the photobooth at Union Pool in Brooklyn.

Rightly or wrongly, Brett Ratner takes a lot of credit for the popularity of the photobooth — Whitaker tells him “Your idea is taking over the world” and he doesn’t argue — and he ends the piece with this bit of wisdom: “Nothing else could have afforded me the meaningful moments and more instant gratification than that simple, beaten up, magical booth” — the last line of the foreword to his book.

UPDATE: Contrary to the opening line of this entry, we had in fact covered this story before; Tim made a note of the fact that the story aired, but found no more than a quick sentence about the report on the CBS website. Three months later, a full story appeared online, and three months after that, I finally got around to mentioning it. All in good time.

September 29, 2005

kiehls_blog.jpgIn the last week, on my street alone, I’ve come across three interesting examples of advertisements featuring photobooth strips as an integral part of their message. Now, admittedly, I’m keeping my eye out for this, but it’s still a remarkable fact, proof that at least in the advertising world, the photobooth isn’t going anywhere.

The first example comes from a shop about a block away that sells everything from gourmet candy to housewares to high-end body products. Atop a tower holding Kiehl’s hair products, I spied a promotional pamphlet with four photobooth photos on the back. When I picked it up and looked at it, I found out that it held half a dozen cards inside, each with a different person modeling a different conditioner, mousse, or gel in a photobooth.

The second advertisement I spotted in Spin Magazine as I waited to get my hair cut a little further down the same street a few days later. An ad for Journeys, a clothing and shoe retailer, it showed a security tub full of a traveler’s possessions about to go through an airport x‑ray machine. Thrown in with some Adidas products and travel-related items was a strip of four black and white photobooth photos.

FInally. a more homegrown kind of ad: as I’ve walked out of my house to go to school every day this past week, I’ve spotted a handmade flyer for a show that happened in the area on September 24th. The Know-How, a Florida-based ska band (supported by a band with a simply great name, the Levar Burtones) use a strip of photobooth photos as the only image on the flyer, which is taped to a power pole on my street.

Kiehl’s, Journeys, and the Know How: great minds think alike?

September 28, 2005

ebay_ocean_city.jpgAn Auto-Photo Studio Model 20 black and white photobooth has been made available on eBay this week. We failed to see the item for a few days, but it’s up for another 36 hours or so, so if anyone is interested, the bidding is currently at $2150.

The photobooth, described as “works good,” is currently in Ocean City, Maryland, and is illustrated with a half-dozen haphazard photographs. Let’s hope this isn’t one of the few remaining Ocean City booths departing for good before we’d even had a chance to visit them.

In addition, the seller of this booth is also offering a rebuilt transmission for a model 14 photobooth, currently at $150, with no bids (and no photos or detailed description).

September 28, 2005

habana_blog.jpgThanks to a tip from Mr. Bernstein in the New York Press, I made a point of stopping by Habana Outpost in Brooklyn when I was in New York this weekend. Their photobooth is a great black and white machine nestled nicely into the wall, and though the photos were a little messy, I highly recommend stopping by this great location to try out the booth for yourself.

Once I was in the neighborhood, I realized that the Atlantic Center mall was not far from the Outpost, and recalling the my unsuccessful June visit, I stopped in to check out their booth. I managed to avoid the mall security and catch the booth when it was fully functional, though it was missing the all-important curtain, which made for a somewhat unsettling photobooth experience.

Having had great luck so far, I tried one more location, the elusive Bushwick Country Club, also in Brooklyn. I had noted the hours of operation online the last time I visited, and found out they were inaccurate when I showed up in person, so this time, I called ahead. I was told they’d be open by 5 pm on Saturday, but when I stopped by at 5:30, they were once again closed. Oh Bushwick, when are you really open on the weekends, and will we ever get to try out your photobooth?

September 27, 2005

neimanmarcusbooth.jpgThe Neiman Marcus Christmas Book (don’t be fooled, it’s a catalog) came out today, and the rumors we heard are true: for a mere $20,000 you could be the proud owner of a custom-designed vintage color photobooth. Based on the photograph in the catalog, it looks like they have done a nice job retro-fitting the outside of the booth, but to the careful observer, the handiwork of Tom Rockowski is still quite evident.

Though it is new to me, it looks like Neiman Marcus has a section in each year’s catalog (er… book) dubbed “Fantasy Gifts.” We are proud that the photobooth is getting the respect it deserves and is included in this year’s selection of gifts alongside such items as a private concert by Sir Elton John ($1.5 mil), a prototype of a personal flying machine ($3.5 mil), and a life-size Indy500 simulator ($65,000).

If any of you decide to fulfill said fantasy, let us know — we’d love to see what they did to the inside and get a better glimpse of the new side panels. And just so you know: Brian and I would prefer you not spend that much money on us for Christmas, but since it is for a good cause, we would be willing to make this one exception.

Update: The Neiman Marcus photobooth has been getting some press, including mentions in sources as varied as The Boston Herald (“…delivers classic strip of four photos, just like the one at the carney”) and Harlingen, Texas’ KGBT 4 News (“…a customized Neiman Marcus exterior and is high-tech enough to ensure I‑D quality color photographs”).

September 26, 2005

It’s time for a new category here on poetry. This week I came across the first example I’ve seen of poetry about the photobooth, a work called “Photomaton,” published online in the first issue of Elixir Magazine. The poem, by Sadi Ranson-Polizzotti, describes an experience with a “two euro” photobooth in a Paris Metro station. The poem has not shown up on Ranson-Polizzotti’s page of audio files of poems, but we’ll provide a link if it does. 

September 21, 2005

Photo-Me International is in the news again (see a previous story or two); this time, it’s their board of directors that is under scrutiny, described in the Guardian as an “old boy’s network.” The story concerns Conservative Member of Parliament Hugo Swire’s position on the board, something The PIRC Corporate Governance Service doesn’t look kindly on.

I was initially confused by the name “Pirc” as it’s written in the story, but then I realized it’s part of British (and other?) newspapers’ custom, as far as I can tell, of spelling out with upper and lower case letters acronyms that are pronounced as words. In UK papers it’s Aids and Nafta, but it’s still the BBC and the BFI. But that’s another story…

September 20, 2005

skylon_blog.jpgTrips to the now-next door metropolis of Toronto over the last two weekends have yielded our first Canadian entries in the Photobooth Locator. Not as many as I’d hoped, but it’s a start.

Last weekend, I stopped by the Drake Hotel to check out their nice old black and white booth, which was, as most reports had warned me, sadly out of order. We also visited working color photobooths in Union Station and the Bloor-Yonge subway station.

This past weekend, we returned to Toronto, and visited two more booths in the city, both in the lower level of the Toronto Eaton Centre Mall: one in the food court and one near the entrance to the subway. After heading back to New York from the city, we passed through Niagara Falls, Canada, the one example of a border town where the American side is actually calm and normal and the foreign side is a nightmare of over-developed commercialism. Anyway, we found three photobooths, all beautiful old black and white models, but also all sadly in different stages of being out of order, in the Skylon Tower observation tower and restaurant. The first booth, in the basement, was closed “for cleaning” and looked pretty lifeless. The second booth, also in the arcade level, was on and accepted our eight quarters, but then went no further. And the third, in the main floor next to the “pose for a photo in a barrel” stand, had no power at all, despite a cashier’s best efforts to turn it on for me.

September 14, 2005

A new week brings a new restaurant review from Joshua Bernstein in the New York Press, and if past reviews are any indication, we’re likely to find a photobooth in the venue Mr. Bernstein has chosen for his review. 

This week’s review doesn’t disappoint, as he takes on Habana Outpost, a “parking lot-cum-restaurant-cum-bar” in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. The restaurant features “… water fountains, indoor murals … a black-and-white photo booth and a former postal truck rigged with a kitchen and griddle to pump out inexpensive tortas, hot dogs and corn on the cob.” Sounds like a great setup; I’m planing a trip to the booth when I’m in New York at the end of next week.

September 13, 2005

myyahoo.gifThanks to a tip yesterday from Nate Woodard, we caught mention of our website on MyYahoo’s daily website picks. For a look at the screen capture, click here.