Film Photography

The finest Polaroid photograph I’ve ever seen came from a photo booth

The finest Polaroid photograph I’ve ever seen came from a photo booth.


On this spring day in 1985, the year my friends John and Jim and I all graduated high school, we were out being silly together and came upon photo booths at a mall. One was a traditional four-photo-strip booth, but the other promised Polaroid prints. I’d never seen a Polaroid photo booth before, and I’ve never seen one since. We piled in, I fed it a buck, and it took this big, beautiful photograph. (I’m on the bottom with the cheesy grin.)

Check out that sharpness! Dig those great colors! And those colors lasted — I scanned this 32-year-old print only recently.

If only I could get this kind of color and sharpness from my integral-print Polaroid cameras. I’ve shot several, including the vaunted original SX-70, and I’ve been dramatically unimpressed with the prints all of them created. How did this photo booth do such solid work?

But my disappointment with Polaroid photography isn’t really the point. I really want to tell you about a blog that features photobooth photographs.

Katherine has loved photo booths since she was a girl in the 1970s. She steps into them whenever she finds them — a rarer and rarer occurrence these days. And she collects forgotten photos from booths. And she shares them all on her blog, Photobooth Journal.

Today Katherine shares this photo, plus some other photobooth photos of this goofy trio and of just me, on her blog today. Click here to go visit and see!


17 thoughts on “The finest Polaroid photograph I’ve ever seen came from a photo booth

  1. SX-70 Film from Impossible always has that soft, dreamy look. I think it’s just the character of the film. I get great sharp results from their new 600 formula, it’s almost on par with the original. I think by their next iteration it will be.

    • Well, I don’t like that soft, dreamy look! I don’t remember whether I still own a 600 camera. If I do I am tempted to try their latest film for it.

  2. Lately, I have been considering sending my SX-70 out for refurb. There are some former Impossible Project folks who have opened their own shop to restore these cameras. And I have heard that the film from IP has improved. Sadly, I never shot any of the original Polaroid film stock when it was in production.

  3. DougD says:

    Once again, I’m glad that I didn’t have to wear glasses in the 80’s. Braces in the 70’s was bad enough.

  4. That is such a good polaroid photo! I currently use the new fujifilm mini instax 8 that seems to be rapidly rising in popularity. It’s pretty much the highlight of what my blog is about :) I’ll definitely check out Katherine’s blog!

  5. The-lomographer says:

    Photo booth of that era used 339 or 339+.

    I put a CB-33 back on my 600SE but have never found any useable 339.

    Bigger and better than Spectra

    • Hmmmmm. My understanding is that 339 was a wide (rectangular) film. The image from the Polaroid Face Place booth was the size of a normal SX-70 or 600 print.

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