I’m obsessed with collecting photobooth photos. As a kid, did you ever put your hand into the coin dispenser of a telephone booth, hoping to collect a little change? Well, I do a similar thing with photobooths. Melbourne has got a tonne of them in the city, and I just walk past, stick my hand into the machine and see if there are any abandoned photos in there. At first I wasn’t expecting to find anything but you’d be surprised how many people leave pictures behind. When you consider all of the duds that are taken, people not ready for the flash, realising they need to tidy up their hair after a shot, or simply because the picture didn’t turn out right, a lot of people leave the unwanted photos behind. As a result, I have a collection of dishevelled, unprepared deer-in-the-headlights photos.
Some people may think my collection is creepy, but the more I do it the more obsessed I become. When the topic of pastimes comes up, I rarely mention that I wander the city raiding photo booths, Melbourne has enough weirdos in its CBD. And it’s not like I do anything weird with the photos… I mean, I don’t use them in black mass rituals or create fake social accounts or anything like that. I just love looking at them and inventing stories about the people inside. My favourite picture is one taken of an enigmatic, chill-inducing character. He’s got unkempt hair as grey as storm clouds and black bags under his eyes. But his most mysterious feature is this indescribably anachronistic quality, as if he came from another time. Sometimes I wonder if he’s a ghost. Far fetched, I know, but just goes to show the power of that image.
I don’t know what I’ll end up doing with my collection, but who knows, perhaps it’ll catch on and photobooth photo collectors will become a thing. I guess there’s a first for everything.