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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • FLY CANADIAN PACIFIC, c. 1950s

Sunset on Fotomat: 1978

Sunset on Fotomat: 1978

Bedford, Massachusetts, circa 1978. The end is near for this kiosk and many like them across the country. After the demise it turned into a video rental store; now it is gone. It was in the Bedford Plaza. All gone now. Taken on Ektachrome 35mm film. View full size.

Fotomat Fotomate

I was a Fotomat Fotomate just a year before this! I had worked hard to train for it, and it was a pretty good job, overall. I had only worked there for a few months, though, when my husband graduated from college at BYU and we had to move to Lexington, Kentucky for grad school. Unfortunately, there was no Fotomat there. Only two years later, when we returned to Utah, Fotomat was just going under. I heard that the creator of it ran off with his secretary and the investor's money, or something on that order.

I thought the film was fine, and the service generally was, too. Sometimes, things were late coming back and people would yell at me, like they thought I had a darkroom in that little 6X6 building, and did the developing myself! There were dozens of imitators, for the few years that it was around. Every parking lot of any size had either a Fotomat or an imitator, for a few years, there.

Almost a miracle

It was something of a revolution, not having to wait a week for the pharmacy (or Kodak's mail-in service) to get your prints back to you.

But quality wasn't as much of a priority -- prints too dark, too light, or speckled with dust was the tradeoff for speed.

A nicely captured bit of modern history.

(Did anyone ever actually USE a roll of Fotomat-branded film?)

 
THE 100-YEAR-OLD PHOTO BLOG
Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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