Steve Pyke | Photo Photo Photo | Intro
Photo Photo Photo
I started collecting photo booth pictures in 1979 and continued into 1984. I was living in London and just starting, what became a lifelong obsession with photography, particularly portraiture. I got about the city on the Tube. The stops frequented everyday were, Camden Town, Chancery Lane, Old St, Elephant and Castle and the old Broad St and Liverpool St stations. They all had Photo Booth machines in color and in black and white. For 50 pence you could sit away from the noise and stress of the platform and for 5 minutes enter a world where you could face off the chaos and bustle surrounding you, in whatever way you felt. I started just picking up the discarded prints that lay on the floor, but pretty soon realized that by searching the nearby bins, Id often find more. The backs and tops of the booths also provided prints often torn into little pieces that I could later tape back together. Over a 3 or 4 year period I collected over 200. In 1981 I made a short 16mm film called Photo Photo Photo, recording a soundtrack that was recorded ‘on site’. The short was screened at the Edinburgh Film Festival in 1984.
I always thought the photo booth is like a confessional, theres something illicit about it. Once you draw back the curtain your enter a world of your own making. You can respond to the camera in whatever way you want. They are our self portraits. Why do people throw them away? It seems that the ones they leave behind can’t be better than the ones they keep. But the pictures remain as clues, almost 40 years on and tell us something about how we looked like back then, our haircuts and our clothes. The people in the pictures are caught in time captured on a busy railway platform.