Text and Image Photography

New Images Photography

Twentieth Century Phone Booths from Around the World

During the twentieth century the phone booth was king. Finding one anywhere from on a busy intersection in the big city to one in a remote location among grassy fields was easy. Along came the cell phone, which led to the impersonal term, electronic device, which, in essence were not phones at all, but mini-macs and Androids that appeared as if aliens dropped them from above. Today, they can listen and talk to you in an alienated voice.

The telephone, a text and image classic within the frame of an image has it all, fine lettering (P-H-O-N-E), lots of color (even pink) and most offer shelter from the elements.

My first foray photographing phone booths came while I was out in the field  photographing motel signs in 2002. The classic glass hideaway booth, a classic American structure, the first I was on the lookout for, a heavenly escape from the hustle and bustle of the street, peace and quiet among eight foot panels of glass with a folding door.

As time passed on the telephone booths began to  disintegrate, some missing the phone itself. Others had been marked with curvy graffiti that only a gang member could interpret.

My travels have taken me to locales like Sucre, Bolivia where the city zoo has a phone booth shaped like a heron. All over Beijing there are mod phone booths of double orange metal bubbles overhead, a place where two can make calls  without seeing the other. On the islands in the Caribbean, phones have an ocean view so that the sea joins in on the conversation, rhythmically and methodically, wave by wave.

Today, the phone booth has become a place where time has taken its toll, a former getaway littered with wrath–graffiti scrawled among a broken appliance with the headset off the hook, drooping down and sometimes swaying in the wind or from the vibration of heavy trucks passing by. Sad and lonely, a tool for only the deviceless and desperate.

In a few decades the image above will no longer be available for a photo shoot. All that will be left are pictures like these.

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