Wednesday, May 19, 2010

REVIEW: Picture Yourself: The Photobooth in America, 1926-2010

by Darby Parsons

An unexpected and delightful bit of photographic history is on display at the Fleming Museum in the show Picture Yourself: The Photobooth in America, 1926-2010 from now until September 12.

Whether you love photography avidly or simply appreciate it’s presence in your own life the photos on display at the Fleming courtesy of local Vermonter Nakki Goranin are bound to impress you. One of them will catch your eye; the face will seem familiar, the candid or well composed body language will make you smile with empathy.

The photobooth was invented in 1925 by Siberian immigrant Anatole Josepho. The portraiture that every class of American could then afford through a photobooth seems to have created a cultural mountain compiled of American faces; refreshingly familiar and real. Every generation since the photobooth’s inception is represented; all ages and shapes; from beatniks to enlisted men, hippies, seafarers and brides. There are dust croppers and buoyantly happy couples, brothers, sisters, funny men, serious women, beautiful women, dogs and cats. The affect is moving. Several of the photos have been enlarged to show the true quality that some of the photobooths printed; they’re beautiful, the tonal ranges or colors are highly evocative and are easily rendered as fine art to the eye.


The history of the photobooth is represented alongside its productions with several unique and antiquated booths on display. Photobooth ephemera is on display as well; compact mirrors with pictures on the back, tin-framed pictures that were framed in different colors of paper during war time. The amount and breadth of American culture represented in the modest exhibit is more than noteworthy; it’s a must see. Picture Yourself: The Photobooth in America, 1926-2010 is ongoing at the Fleming Museum in the front Wilbur Room until September 12.