Tuesday, 10 February 2009


I am always excited by how many beautiful books there are in the world, and sometimes disappointed at how little time I can make to read them.

Last year's favourites included The Genius of Photography which accompanied the BBC television series and documents a brief history of photography and it's importance in modern day society.

One of the best engagement presents we got was in my opinion, The Great Life Photographers, and I added to my small collection with The Henri Cartier Bresson Scrapbook, which is just beautiful, even before it's opened.

So, imagine my surprise when I was bought two books in one go, both on two of my favourite subjects: photographers and photobooths.
Annie Leibovitz At Work I haven't even opened yet, as it deserves a day all to itself with warm socks and lit candles, but this one I couldn't wait for:

American Photobooth which explores the history of the... American photobooth, and some of the kooks who've entered them over the years. I have always been fascinated with photostrips of this sort, and Nåkki Goranin does an excellent and intriguing job in stringing the story together.

I started my own collection of photostrips of unknowns, which I'd found in Rome. There was one photobooth which never failed-en route to the city's immigration office, where you needed to provide 4 passport photos. I guess it must have been a very tempremental machine, as there were almost always photos left abandoned, which I would scoop up on my way to the bus stop, shove in a book and leave in my bag until I got home. It would've been quite obvious the photos I was holding were not my own, and I didn't want to look like a weirdo.

I found it interesting to look at these people, and how they posed when they knew that no-one was watching, but that someone would eventually see. There was almost always a deadness in their eyes, or a twisted top lip or brow frozen, challengingly.

I have always loved a good photobooth, not just for photos of people I don't know, but of course, for photos of me or us or them. I spent a lot of time in photobooths with my best friends in high school, before the hyper-revolution of the Harajuku anime booth, with frames and glitter mandatory.
I still carry a photo on my keys of my sister and I which is 10 years old, of us and our best gangster pose. I made her sit right at the front, so her head was bigger than mine, as it's quite the opposite in real life.

This book has gone some of the way in making me feel a tiny bit better about not having scanned our Melbourne storystrip before a candle caught it alight in my bedroom. Whenever I think back to it, I'll be looking at these instead.


  1. The 'never leave a candle unattended' proverb, is true.


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Loves the Light

My photo
London Town, United Kingdom
I like photos and books and reading books about photos. I also like trees and chocolate and cafes with bookshelves. I live in North London with my Australian husband and his three guitars. Tell me something, anything: Chloe{@}caughtthelight{dot}com