September, 2006

September 30, 2006

salisbury_beach.jpgIn between road trips this summer, each of which netted one solitary photobooth sighting (here and

here), I spent a brief afternoon traversing Massachusetts’ North Shore in search of a few remaining locations I hadn’t had the chance to visit in my five years living there. Now that things have settled down in L.A., I’ve had a chance to get the locations on the site.

First, I headed to Salisbury Beach, and to Joe’s Playland. Each of the two locations across the street from one another had a working booth, both black and white. The first was fairly normal, but the second was notable for its wider paper and three shots-per-strip setup, similar to the booth at Playland Arcade in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire.

Around the corner from Joe’s, I wandered into Carefree Amusement, which was fairly deserted, but did feature a nice black and white booth. I had trouble getting it to produce a strip, but the woman in charge gave me her key to open it up, check it out, and try it again. Thanks!

I headed next to Salem, and to Salem Willows Park, home of the Salem Willows Arcade. I found two booths next to one another, one black and white and one color. It was nice to see that at the height of summer, all five booths I found were working, turning out great looking photos.

We’ve now got 18 locations for the state of Massachusetts, three of which were short-term at museums and the like; that leaves 15 photobooths around the state. I know I’ve missed a few at some metro-area malls, but I’d love to know if there any that have missed our attention in bars, restaurants, and arcades around the state.

September 30, 2006

When I read the title of this article, “£100K Fine for Burns Photo Firm,” I expected the piece to be about a photobooth company named “Burns Photo, Inc.,” or something along those lines. But then I realized that I was reading the article on the website of a British newspaper, hence the uniquely constructed headline, and that there aren’t that many photobooth companies dealing with chemicals these days.

Sure enough, Photo-Me International was fined for forcing workers to “mix toxic chemicals by hand that left them covered in weeping sores. The chemicals were so powerful that workers’ eyelids dried out and cracked, and one man’s fingers were burned so badly he couldn’t do up his shirt buttons without the blistered tips bursting.”

It’s well-known that photobooth chemicals are toxic; it seems inconceivable that Photo-Me wouldn’t give their employees the necessary protection and precautions. They should know better.

When you’re finished with that article, read more pieces with similarly phrased titles like “Honours Cops Quiz Blair Chiefs” and “Sex Cheat Husband Killed Wife.”

September 28, 2006

james_dean.jpgTwo notable items from the world of eBay this week: first, a framed set of two photos purported to be of a young (18 year-old) James Dean. The photos, dated 1949, feature a Photomat label from the Terminal Arcade in Indianapolis, Indiana, and are described as follows:

In one shot he’s posing serenely, wearing the eyeglasses he needed to combat his extreme myopia, and in the other he is laughing uproariously sans glasses. The pictures measure 2.5″ x 3″ and are in metal frames, as was often the case with booth photos at the time, and are in Fine condition with a little staining and tarnish. From the James Dean Museum archive.

The auction is listed through eBay Live Auctions, and has an estimate between $640 and $960. The current bid is at $160. If you’re a potential bidder, be warned that the bid carries a 22.5% buyer’s premium as well.

Also in progress is an auction for a set of clippings out of a gallery catalog of photostrips of Edie Sedgwick, part of Andy Warhol’s Factory crew and subject of an upcoming film. The auction includes fourteen strips totalling 56 different photos of Edie. We’ll keep our eyes on both of these interesting items.

Brian | 8:19 pm | In the News
September 26, 2006’s own resident expert Tim is the author of a recent piece featured on TeachingPhoto, “a newsletter for photography and imaging educators.” The article, titled “The Photobooth: Timeless Self-Portrait Vending Machine,” is a concise history of the photobooth, a survey of artists who use photobooth photos in their work, and an analysis of the state of the traditional photobooth today. Tim has filled the piece with links to nearly every person, company, and event he mentions, and the article will serve as a great quick reference guide for new initiates into the world of the photobooth. The article is also archived on

Brian | 6:01 pm | In the News
September 18, 2006

Paul Hudson, owner of Lawrence Photo in Lawrence, Kansas, has created a “replica of a curtained photo booth” with a live photographer and the results printed on a postcard, as part of an event called “The Photo Booth Project,” open to the public until September 23. In an article in the Wichita Eagle, Douglas recalls his first time in the booth, saying “I have a strip from a photo booth in El Paso, Texas, when I was about a year old.”

The event opened with a packed reception last month, and has proven to be a popular attraction. As reporter Chris Shull writes, 

The photo booth is as American as hot rods and parking lot carnivals. Those closet-sized boxes coax giggling kids and proud parents into a cramped, curtained-off compartment, where a camera captures silly faces and stolen kisses and then dispenses memories in strips of ID-sized photos.

The booth is open during store hours until September 23, and we encourage any Lawrence-area readers to check it out and send us a report and some photos.

Brian | 1:45 pm | Projects
September 16, 2006

In a review of downtown LA’s Bar 107, which is next on our to-do list for its photobooth, Gridskipper mention’s the bar’s booth, and then goes on to define the photobooth in general as “the best frat boy excuse for breaking the touch barrier since five billion decibel music.” The photobooth is all things to all people, indeed. We’ll visit soon, take in the “ironic hipster chic one might think lacking on the left coast: red walls, ginormous NSFW Bible art, stuffed deer heads, random signs, etc.,” and report back.

September 16, 2006

We don’t have an image of the photobooth photo yet, but the Poughkeepsie Journal reports that a new book of photographs called The Kennedy Mystique: Creating Camelot includes a photobooth shot of the future President and First Lady. Among the 150 photos, “Jack and Jackie appear in a photo-booth snapshot from 1953 — he smiling broadly and she appearing more reserved.” 

John F. Kennedy: A Life in Pictures from Phaidon Press also seems to include a photobooth photo of the couple, dated 1956; we’ll keep on the lookout to see if these two photos are the same.

Brian | 9:28 am | History
September 08, 2006


The cover story of this week’s LA Weekly features “emerging artists” with photos of each artist taken in a photobooth. The piece, titled “Afterschool Art,” features black and white photobooth pictures from all of the artistst profiled. For the most part, the photos are real sections of photostrips, though in two cases, the photostrips appear fabricated: Clair Baker’s are staged (square photos rather than rectangular) and Jacob Stewart-Halevy’s photo is a single shot, not a photostrip at all. The other 19 artists play along, with Frank Ryan even bringing his dog in. The photos are included in the online version of the article, though the multi-colored cover of the print edition is quite striking and not available in a viewable size online.

Perhaps the photos were taken in the booth at Lucky Strike Lanes, or at the Edendale Grill, or at the Short Stop, if it’s no longer printing the name of the bar between each photo.

September 04, 2006

The traditional photobooth is the subject of a brief piece posted in the new sundayheraldtalk, the Sunday Herald’s “new place to debate issues affecting Scotland, the UK and the world.” In the editorial, titled “Life’s a cycle, but nothing this cool will happen again,” Diane Smyth, deputy editor of the British Journal of Photography, chooses the dip-and-dunk booth over the new digital photobooths because of the element of chance inherent in the analog booths:

OK so digital booths allow you to preview your photographs and edit out the dross. But where’s the fun in that? The frisson of excitement as you waited to see what God-awful photographs would drop into the out-tray has gone, overtaken by the control freakery of our image-obsessed society.

Smyth suggests mourning the death of the traditional booth, but if her readers were to follow her link to our very own, they would find an oasis of photochemical goodness. We appreciate the link, and would offer that mourning is premature as the death of the traditional booth has so far been forestalled. 

Brian | 9:32 pm | In the News