As luck would have it, the mystery behind the identity of the previously-unnamed man who's the subject of more than 400 vintage photobooth portraits has finally been solved. Learn more about this fascinating development after the cut!
In April, if you will recall, we published an article titled “‘445 Portraits of a Man’ Collection Features Mysterious Photobooth Portraits”, the story of which we have picked up from Rutgers. The collection, a part of the “Striking Resemblance: The Changing Art of Portraiture” exhibit, has caught the attention of the many mainly because the identity man and the reason he compiled more than three decades’ worth of photos were a mystery. Not anymore, though, as now we can finally put a name to the face. He’s Franklyn Swantek, a man from Michigan who ran Swantek Photo Service, which prided itself as “Michigan’s largest operators and distributors of Photomatic.”
It was through the Internet that Minden, Nevada-based Tom Trelenberg discovered the photos and articles about the photobooth shots his “uncle Franklyn” had taken. In a recent interview with Rutgers, Trelenberg recalled some fond childhood memories with his late uncle, whom he described as “a lot of fun, just a cheerful guy.” In short, Swantek was the “cool uncle.”
However, the reason why Swantek took all those self-portraits remains a mystery. But as for Donald Lokuta, photography historian and now owner of these photographs, he believed that the man “was making a record of his life.”
“445 Portraits of a Man” will be on exhibit until July 13, 2014 at Rutgers’ Zimmerli Art Museum in New Brunswick.