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I had coffee yesterday with one of my university lecturers, Bronwyn who is a glass artist and art historian. We have only recently discovered that we live in adjacent

villages on the Mornington Peninsula. In discussing our creative pursuits photobooths came up, of course. As a glass artist Bronwyn was thinking of hopping into a chemical black and white booth to pose with a sheet of glass, in very much the same way I did in this first of a digital series, started in May this year.

After exclaiming about the coincidence of us both having the same idea, I tried to persuade her that my writing a post about her example, is a very fine idea indeed. I hope to be able to present her interpretation of the concept at some point in the near future.

Through Näkki Goranin’s Facebook page, I found Fotoautomatica a photobooth company in Italy. They very kindly sent me this wonderful strip of photobooth photos. You can find their page on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/fotoautomatica.firenze. They have posted lots of photo strips from chemical booths and images of many old booths. I am guessing that hiring out photobooths is their business but as I don’t read Italian, I am only guessing.

1961

April 1962

December 1962

30/12/1966

Some years ago I bought a group of booth strips of the same woman.  The photos were from France.  I thought they were a brilliant find, showing the same lady through two relationships and many different fashionable hairstyles of the 1960s.  In the images of her alone, I imagine her popping into a booth on the way home from her hairdresser to record the newest “do”.  Above are four of the 14 strips.  Only seven of the group are dated.  There is no indication as to the place they were taken on any of them.  As with most of my collection, I feel a certain proprietary relationship with each sitter, especially if I have more than one  photo covering a period of time.  Thus I was delighted when my lovely lady came into my life again earlier this year, in a most surprising way, of which I will tell you more in a later post.

March 1968

Chronologically, this is the next of the dated booth photos of the series of 14 of my lovely French lady. This strip was cut, as you can see.  I especially love this photo as my sister was born in the same month and year.  Why does that make any difference?  I suppose I enjoy seeing what else was going on in another private world at a significant time in the life of my family, similarities and differences, another incarnation of the period. I am amused by the fact that at around the same era, my mum had a furry hat very similar to the one worn above and she was also fond of the same type of fashionable silk scarf.

Two hundred and twenty five dollars!  This is a standard sized photobooth picture, 40 x 50 mm. It has “some residual glue or sticky substance” on the right side, with wear to the edges. Even as an avid collector I can’t figure out why someone was prepared to pay so much for one little, “distressed” photo. Will I be posting another record price soon?  Who knows? The market is certainly hot at the moment.

29/05/1968

15/08/1968

These are the last two strips of dated photos from my mysterious, beautiful French lady.  Looking glamourous in her pearls and just as chic in her more casual stripes, she is the image of a 1960s conservative yet fashionable young thing. There are eight strips of undated images to come soon.

Although I didn’t manage to get my Mum and Dad into a photobooth in London, they promised to keep an eye out for a booth on their travels.  They posted this to me when they returned to Australia.  It cracked me up. I love Dad’s stunned mullet look and the action of his leaving the booth before the last shot was taken. It still makes me smile. Mum is looking joyous: she was very excited by her European travel adventure.

This pic was taken in Switzerland in May 1994.  My Mum had never left Australia before and it was only my Dad’s second overseas trip, having come over to London for the first time in 1989 to nurse me after I was discharged from Hither Green Hospital .

2 April 1994, London

It had been many months since I had seen my Susie. She was visiting from Dublin where she was working as a nanny and taking advantage of the wild 90s club scene there.  Up until yesterday, I would have described her as a “party girl” but having only just learned this has pejorative connotations, courtesy of an episode of Madmen, I had better not. She has always loved people, fun and up until recent years, big eyebrows. Stop the plucking and bring ‘em back, Sue-poo, I miss them.

This is the first of many occasions when I have been photographed in a photobooth with my darling baby sister.  We were at the post office at Charing Cross on our way to meet our parents, who were visiting London for the first time together. We each took two of the strip of four pics.

Del was my landlady in London.  She is also Rosie’s mum.  Del took in boarders for many years.  I think I was the only one they were never quite able to get rid of. Living with the Holbrooks meant fraternising with diverse people through a succession of boarders of many nationalities and with their friends from all over the world. Del and her spouse, Lindsey, were the epitome of hospitality and generosity, often, with patience and humour, putting up with the foibles and troubles of, mainly female, under 25 year old strangers.

I cannot list how many times Del collected me or dropped me at train stations or airports and offered me other kindnesses and support.  In 1989, I contracted hepatitis from another boarder who had just returned from Africa. I was admitted to a distant hospital, yet with all Del had on her plate as a mother of two young kids, I received regular visits from her. I was at Hither Green in the infectious diseases isolation ward. One day she brought the kids, Ros and Rich, with her. They were only allowed to stand outside the door and wave as I was still in quarantine. It was such a lovely gesture and a massive boost to my morale. Also, due to her thoughtfulness, I did not die of starvation on the ghastly NHS rations and was also saved from 10 days of boredom due to her lending me a tiny portable TV. All that love, along with magical Christmasses, birthdays and many other fun experiences plus their continuing friendship, makes me count all the Holbrooks as a very special part of my extended family.

01/04/1994

April 1994, London

I had finished my studies in Annecy and was back in the UK to get a new French visa and find myself another job, aiming for a situation in Paris, doing what, I wasn’t yet sure. Moana was also back in the UK and working in Blackpool in her profession of journalism. We met up in London so I could catch up on all the gossip that hadn’t been revealed in the copious long letters we had written to each other in the previous 9 months.

Home was once again West Norwood. I was accepted back into the Holbrook fold where I was relishing the friendship and comforts that always welcomed me there and the fun and games that living with two kids always offered.

This strip of Moana and I was taken at Oxford Circus tube station on April Fool’s Day. It must have been windy as both of our “coifs” are standing on end in a bizarrely similar way.  What else was achieved that day? I have no idea. Whatever it was, what mattered, for we erstwhile Latin American adventurers, was that we did it together.

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