Friday, January 14, 2011

Photobooth Project: Tracking Desmond

Quite a few years ago I started tracking photobooths by their model and serial numbers. I then began to volunteer for by giving them the booth information I had collected. With all the traveling I did in 2009 and 2010 I was able to find and document quite a few booths in Canada, Australia and Europe in the hope that people would find them on the website, use them in person and that the booths would then be less likely to disappear as a result. While tracking for the website I also, sorta accidently started tracking something else too.

In Canada we still have many chemical photobooths because we still have a distributor (whereas in most countries, chemical booths are owned privately and are found in bars or museums instead of in shopping malls and bus stations.) Auto-Photo, the manufacturers in Canada (founded in 1953) have quite a few models in circulation and most Canadian cities have at least one and as many as twenty-five booths. The example photos on the exteriors of the booths are not taken in that specific booth, but, I imagine at the warehouse in Montreal. (Photobooths develop photos without negatives so no strip can ever be authentically reproduced). As a result you can find reoccurring individuals on the sides of the booths, which is interesting because some of the booths are decades old. For whatever reason, this past spring I started photographing one individual that I kept seeing. A few months ago, as I was walking to a new booth I thought in my head “I wonder if I’ll see Desmond?” And sure enough, this fellow, whom I subconsciously named Desmond, was featured on that booth. I assume that he must be an employee of Auto-Photo to have been featured so readily for what appears to be about a decade. There are lots of other fun folks to follow too, the women especially are interesting because you can guess the year pretty well based on their hair styles.

Here’s a melange of some of the photos I’ve snapped of Desmond from booths in nearly every large Canadian city. He seems to like the colour orange.


  1. It's pretty awesome how you've "ran into" the same guy so many times.

  2. I'm pretty sure that you should drop this whole two hands two crowns profitable etsy responsible artist thing and get into the next big thing: Photobooth Fan Fiction. Here's your first story: Desmond accidentally drops and loses his glasses inside a photo booth. Years later, Meags retrieves them and tracks him down by fitting glasses on numerous Auto Photo employees and finding the one that the prescription fits.

    That's what you get for free. If you sign me on as your manager, I'll tell you the summary WITHOUT plot holes.

  3. I like the name you've given Desmond. You should contact Auto-Photo to see if they have any readily available employee databases and solve the mystery of who Desmond really is!

  4. WOW. this blows my mind, i've totally seen him too! now he will be forever "Desmond" to me, too.

  5. very cool..... But actually these pictures date back even further. There are some going as far back as 20-30 years ago (but hard to find)

  6. I know this guy, his name isnt Desmond.

    1. I know that now, I've recently been in touch with the real "Desmond" over email. I expect to post more about this story in the coming weeks.

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