Comic seaside portraits

Coney Island

photos while you wait.jpg

This interesting photograph shows a vintage ‘while u wait’ photo studio in America, at the New York beach resort of Coney Island. “Photo Laff” suggests they had some of those comedy painted boards to put your head through as well.  And as a sideline they did cold beer!
The photo was taken by Marvin Newman in 1953, and comes from a recent book of his images published by Taschen.  The studio is closed as it was taken out of season but the people in the photograph had picked it as a spot to get a bit of boost from the winter sunshine. A remarkable image in catching what must have been a very ordinary scene at the time but which seems quite strange to us now.


Roller skating man

roller skating man.jpg

Whoops! Another fun cut-out seaside souvenir postcard. I don’t know where this was taken, or when (circa 1910?) but the somewhat mad painting is on a large board, and there is a cut out at the top where the flat capped gentleman is resting his neck. This would have been taken either on the beach or prom outdoors by the look of it, much cheaper than renting a studio.  There are some more cut-out comic photos on the site.

Photographie Comique

early plane prop off web.jpg

This is a really interesting documentary image I spotted on the web which provides a rare look at early street photography studio set ups. The backdrop being used is of an early bi-plane. It is in two sections, the customer poses behind the front section and the rest of the plane is on the backdrop.  When photographed square on, the illusion is complete!
The gent with the beret is taking the photograph, and you can see a couple more props in the space, including one of those head in a hold boards. Although open to the daylight, there are also three large lamps directing light at the subject.
It is obviously French, but I do not know when (probably 1920s) or where it was taken, or by who. The Rapid Photo sign at the top suggests the stand is bigger, so perhaps the darkroom facilities are next to the studio. The sign inside says “instances” which suggests the print was processed while customers waited, although there looks to be a little brasserie behind the stand for a drink while doing so! There are a few comic seaside images on the site.

Head in a hole

The vintage head in a hole comic seaside cards are always great fun, but the trend seems to be one which is becoming more popular, albeit with new twists. Cinemas are using quite elaborate cardboard scenery for the new Hans Solo film and you can sit inside the “cabin” and have your picture taken. But this image was taken in Montreux in 2016 and shows a painted view outside the famous Casino there. So you can pretend you’re rolling up in a limo!

Head in hole Casino.jpg


Worthing Pier

The fabulous art deco pier at Worthing has escaped the neglect (or worse) suffered by many similar structures around our coast. The buildings have all been restored and the partition which runs down the pier has been adapted to make a great outdoor display area.  The local arts group Creative Waves works hard to use this and the entire seafront area to put a new project together each summer.  It looks like a model of how to make use of a great resource and help bring people back for a visit.

sunny snaps worthing 1936 mr and mrs marks ashford kent

For 2016 one of the focus points was the seaside postcard, and they asked Go Home On A Postcard to co-operate by sending some of the walking pictures taken in Worthing to use as part of this, which we were happy to do. Worthing was an outpost of the multi-franchised Sunny Snaps walking picture empire, and there were a number to choose from. One of my favourites is shown above, you can read more about the image on our site.
There are all sorts of displays and related art works going on around the pier, including some new takes on those head in a hole boards for people to pose with (they are great to do, but it’s hard to decide exactly what to feature in these more PC times -paintings of knock-kneed Scotsmen or bosomy women in ill-fitting bathing costumes are not likely to get past the local authority these days!).

worthing art on the pier
From this distance (238.2 miles!) it’s a little confusing to work out exactly what’s going on from the Creative Waves website, and they have not sent me any photographs of how the images have been used (so the image above is from an older display), but if I leave it any longer to mention it may all be over! And if you’re in the area it’s a day at the seaside, so what’s not to like?

Seaside fun

Paul Godfrey, who has helped on this site and shares our interest in seaside photography, is helping with the Great Yarmouth Arts Festival, and presenting an illustrated talk on the local photographers who specialised in those comic cut-out boards where you put your head through and were photographed. It’s on at St Georges Theatre in the town on June 11th at 5.30. More details at the festival site As well as this there will be cut-outs throughout the town and on the pier.  Sounds great fun!

Great Yarmouth Arts Festival

Britannia Pier

It’s always good when people can help identify some of the mystery locations on this site. Paul Godfrey was looking at the “comic” souvenir photos I put up early in the New Year, and spotted that two of them were taken in Great Yarmouth. “The one with the mock up car has no landmarks but the give away is the registration number of the car. The prefix EX was exclusive to Great Yarmouth County Borough Council’s taxation department (EX10 is still on the road and takes part in the Brighton run each year). Your photo of a mock up car with a registration plate of EX5 just has to be taken on Yarmouth sands.”
Paul also identified the pavilion in the other photograph as being on Great Yarmouth’s Britannia Pier. What’s more the history of this structure was very short lived. It opened in 1902 and was destroyed in a fire in 1909. This dates the photograph to within this seven year period.
And if that wasn’t enough, Paul tells me that the head in a hole seaside attraction is back in place on the current pier as part of the retro trend, and took this picture to prove it!  Today the prop is free and you take your own photographs (and it lacks the humour of the pre-war boards!).
Britannia Pier 2013
Read about Paul’s book on Norfolk seaside photographers on the site.

Cross-dressing vintage style

seaside picsWhile walkies form the most numerous seaside souvenir photos, the ever popular idea of poking your head through a gaily painted image of bathers (male and female) remains popular. I’ve pulled out a handful of these comic seaside images for the site, including this strange image of a happy looking guy in Edwardian style women’s dress!