Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Photobooth Pictures in Art and Abroad

Anyone who knows me knows of my passion/ obsession with photobooths. I’ve been collecting non-digital photobooth pictures for seven years now and have thousands of pictures. Taking and collecting photos is primarily a hobby but I have also used them in my artwork. I store my photos in archival plastic sheets and have divided them into four categories; Found Photos, Donated Photos, Film Stills (more on this later) and Self Portraits. I own almost all the published books on the subject matter and I’m especially interested in their history. This summer when I travelled to Australia I was happy to hunt for the remaining non-digital booths in Sydney for’s Locator feature on their website. I was curious about what I would be able to find in Europe. At one time the continent’s train stations and streets were rampant with “Photoautomats” but today they have been almost entirely replaced with easier to maintain digital booths. In Paris I visited a few booths that are owned by businesses committed to preserving these iconic machines but it was only in Berlin that I found the occasional classic black & white “dip’n’dunk” booth in the streets.

Nevertheless, Paris was a real photobooth highlight for me because the Centre de Georges Pompidou had a very thoroughly curated exhibition titled “La Subversion des Images” or “The Subversion of Images” which featured Surrealist photography and film. The exhibition had original photobooth pictures by famous Surrealists such as Paul Eluard, André Breton, Louis Aragon, René Magritte, Yves Tanguy, Luis Brunel, Salivador Dali and others, taken for both fun and to use in their artwork.

Top photo is of the Fotoautomat in the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. Bottom picture is of René Magritte's "Je ne vois pas la [femme] cachée dans la forêt", 1929.


  1. i, too, am a photobooth enthusiast so i was quite pleased to find your name listed on when i was cruising it.

    there is a pretty amazing polaroid one at a bar in milwaukee that we discovered on our last trip (with the help of our friend faythe, that is).

  2. ellis and I found this photobooth too! so special. I took a photo of this same booth in July... the photo is here if you want to see:
    cool blog!
    - stefana

  3. also, we had a sharpie on us. which was handy while being inside!