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American Photobooth Paperback – 19 Feb 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Co.; 1 edition (19 Feb. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393330761
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393330762
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 1.8 x 25.4 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,075,274 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"That a perceptive, dedicated, and sensitive artist like Nakki Goranin has rescued from oblivion so many amazing self-portraits created by amateurs confronting themselves in the fleeting privacy of humble photobooths is yet another miracle for which we can be grateful." David Haberstich"

About the Author

Nakki Goranin, a Vermont photographer and historical photograph collector, has had her work shown in galleries, movies, and magazines. A former artist-in-residence with the Vermont Arts Council, she owns three vintage photobooths.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 8 reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Fascinating history. Visual goldmine!!! 29 Feb. 2008
By Bibliomaniac - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The title of this book is perfect. What American hasn't had that moment in a photo booth waiting for the
flash of light, deciding second to second what pose to strike with or without accomplices? And then...
the wait for the magical strip of photos.

It's fascinating to find that this seemingly American invention was not invented by an American.
Even the history of the photobooth is filled with photos and ephemera about this "American" institution.
American Photobooth addresses this sociological phenomenon in a concise and fascinating way.
Who knew the depth of history to the everyday photobooth?

A great read and visual feast. A fabulous collection of photos, evoking the human spirit, its highs and lows.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
"The ultimate pedestrian art." 5 Mar. 2008
By Luan Gaines - Published on
Format: Paperback
Aside from the nostalgia of this collection, American Photobooth is a fabulous coffee table book, a varied collection of black and white and color images from the photobooths that have contributed to this country's collective photographic history- literally the faces of friends, strangers, couples, service men and their girls soon off to World War II, a stunning compilation reproduced on high quality paper, the images prefaced with a detailed history of the photobooth.

It all began with the 1894 invention of a Parisian vending machine. Once the concept of the coin-operated vending machine was embraced by an evolving popular culture, these booths became a favorite pastime, "the ultimate pedestrian art". Over the years the concept developed, along with techniques to streamline the process, photo strips available to customers for twenty-five cents. A number of entrepreneurs contributed to this emerging art form that could be found in storefronts, department stores and virtually any place one of these booths would fit. The technology progressed with the times, from a "plumbless" machine that no longer required a water supply to various chemical paper treatments that allowed quick-drying, cost-efficient results.

Over the years, booths were refined redesigned and updated under a series of names: Photomaton, Phototeria, Mutoscope Photographics, Photo-Me USA, Tru-Photo and Photo-Dome, through a number of innovative family-owned enterprises appearing everywhere, including the Depression. By the 1970s color strips arrived; by the 80s chemical photobooths were nearly phased out. The first art promoter to use the photobooth, Andy Warhol made the images part of the American artistic lexicon. But for those of us who ever posed with a friend, inserted a quarter and received a strip of four pictures, this book is a reminder of simpler days. Although "this American tradition stands on the brink of extinction". Goranin's wonderful collection offers a trip to the past, from the early 20th century, page after page of smiling faces hoping to capture a moment in a fast-moving world. Luan Gaines/ 2008.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Dimestore Dreams Recalled 23 Oct. 2009
By LKP - Published on
Format: Paperback
I love this book. Aside from the social history of photo booths, this book delivers with an amazing and offbeat array of ultra-personal "self portraits". We all know the feeling - Ducking into the booth, arranging ourselves on those silly little stools that spin, deciding if the awful green curtain behind us is "needed" or not, putting on more lipstick (nah, too much....then wiping it off again. Well, maybe just a little more)and then being shocked once-twice-thrice-four by the bright lights. Waiting for the little curl of photos to silently drop, and then that breathless first peak. Is this really me? Is this how I look? Is this how I look TO THE WORLD? There are many singular images in this book - each reader will find their favorite - but I especially loved a photo of a young couple, ardently kissing for the camera. Details abound: his lacquered hair is combed into swirls, his collar buttoned all the way to the top, his nose a bit snubbed and cute -- She wears a notably-frilly blouse with a lace collar and flirty black ribbon bows at the collar AND cuffs, red fingernails, her dark hair swept away from her face into an up-do, a rather ethnic face; a mature beauty compared to his student-like looks. Even better, we are treated to an inscription, in ink....."Jan. 3, 1944. Day before he left." Everytime I look at this image, I long to know......What happened? Did he come back? Did she wait for him? Did it all work out? What other photos did they take that day? Did he keep one also, and did it have an insciption?
Treat yourself to this book, and allow yourself to succumb to the endless stories inside - those that are documented, and those that you will find yourself making up.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Implied Truths 29 Dec. 2009
By Ed C. Fields Jr. - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Consider what is implied in these marvelous photos. First, note that there are many formal portraits of Blacks. There was no portrait studio in their part of town and 'White' studios did not want their business. Also, since the 'photographer' was a machine, the 'subject' did not have to worry about bigotry on the part of the of the person behind the camera. They used the only resource they had to record themselves. Also, since the 'photographer' was a machine and the photobooth resembled a confessional, the person inside was, one could say, in a state of grace and totally in the moment. You could do or be whatever you chose-which is why the doors were replaced by curtains-and only a select audience would see the results, but you only had thirty seconds to decide what to do or be-which called for spontaneity. One could write a book on the sociological, psychological, historical, etc. layers in these photos or one can simply marvel at them and consider the mysteries contained in these do-it-yourself masterpieces. The subjects got the best of both worlds. They have been preserved for posterity but with their anonymity intact.
Four Stars 11 Feb. 2015
By Kate Portland - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great collection of photos.
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