cover image Photobooth: A Biography

Photobooth: A Biography

Meags Fitzgerald. Conundrum, $20 trade paper (278p) ISBN 978-1-894994-82-8

In this graphic history-cum-memoir debut, Fitzgerald journeys around the world to find old photo booths and help other enthusiasts catalogue and preserve them, capturing her own lifelong fascination with the chemical development techniques that they used. As Fitzgerald points out, images from chemical photo booths offer a fleeting serendipity, privacy, and beauty that can’t be found in digital photography. She begins the book with Anatol Josepho, who fled World War I–era Russia before inventing the photo booth process in New York City, and traces the history of the technique all the way through contemporary artist Herman Costa, who uses photo strips in his collage art. The story is told mostly through text, but b&w illustrations enhance it, giving the photo strips a visual presence. While Fitzgerald largely relates her tale in a matter-of-fact way, the occasional moments of drama, such as when she weeps over the loss of half of the Paris Metro’s booths, are more powerful because of the contrast. Few will share Fitzgerald’s fervor for this particular obsolete technology, but her passion speaks to powerful universal themes relating to art and memory. (May)