I read some story a last week about a guy in the Pacific Northwest who maintains one of the last fleets of film photo booths around, and how the number of booths still operating nationwide was depressingly low. We were big fans of all the photo booths at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and my wife lost a mitt full of our developed shots when she left her wallet in some Lebanese Restaurant years ago. So I was disappointed when I took the kids out to Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum only to discover they sold their last film-based photo booth to some eccentric millionaire dressed all in red who took it with him when he moved to Nashville with his supermodel wife.  All they had was one of these digital booths that spits out a print in ten seconds and it's not even close to the same. At least Japanese purikura give you hello kitty-esque options. And this raggedy Mac camera application doesn't cut it either.

Then I read this morning that the Henry Ford museum is digitizing their photo collection and putting it on Flickr, starting with a promising collection of vintage photo booth portraits. I've wasted countless hours in the Library of Congress' digital photo archives and I love it when universities and smaller museums put their collections online, so I'm pretty excited about the Henry Ford doing this (I am a bit obsessive about Henry Ford lore so I hope some of his personal photos go up there). I hope they add to the photo booth collection as well.

Most of the people in these photos are anonymous; some are famous, or rich, or powerful, but you wouldn't know it from their faces. The photo booth is the great equalizer. It reminds us that to its unwavering eye we're all pretty much the same.

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