The Disappearing Booth


Exit Through the Gift Shop

Have you guys seen this documentary called “Exit Through the Gift Shop”? It’s so great… I had heard it was good from many people, but I was skeptical… I have always liked Banksy, but I didn’t know the documentary would be quite like THAT. Anyway, if you saw it, what did you think?

Daily Photo – The Disappearing Booth

I heard from some British friends that these are disappearing more and more all over London… I guess they are all just so old and the telephone company is removing the older ones… is this true, or is it an urban myth? I was reminded of Banksy above because he did a cool piece of art with one of these. And, I figured, we have so many readers from London, that one of you would know he truth!

HDR Photo

  • Susan

    Cool shot Trey – yes, phone boths have all but gone here too – although not quite as charming as these!

  • Luke Lakatosh

    Just left London a few days ago and still saw a ton! Noticed a bunch of them didn’t have phones in them though.

  • Paul Parkinson

    Yes it’s true. The ones you pictured are still there but they are a dying breed. Most people have cell phones nowadays so British Telecom (sorry, BT) are taking more and more of them out of commission. Pay phones are *very* expensive to run and maintain which makes them put the call cost up which makes people use them less and so on.

    The good news is that many are getting listed building status and as such are protected. They may not have a phone in anymore but then, that doesn’t really matter does it?

  • I recall this one from the webinar, good to see it in a finished state! My brother Linden, who you met when you visited us last year, is actually in and around europe as we speak on his OE. I must ask him to have a look for one of these classic red phone boxes on his return trip to london, before they all disappear!

  • Thanks!

    Paul – Aha that is interesting to hear… I did not realize they were expensive to maintain… I guess they just aren’t used much any more

  • Chaz

    I also liked “Exit Through the Gift Shop”. I read that it is actually a spoof and not a real documentary. Do you know if this is true?

  • Yes I did read that… a credible case… but still very enjoyable even if true! What do you think?

  • like the PS actions you used there…

  • Neville Margison

    Hi Trey

    I concur with the others here, they are disappearing fast. These ones in Hayes Galleria, just south of the river, are intended for tourists. A few months back I was sitting having a coffee (you can see the coffee shop in the background) on a Saturday morning. A group of Spanish students turned up and decided to see how many could fit into one of the boxes at once which was a common past time in the sixties/seventies.

    By my count they got about ten in which is quite impressive but I think the record is much higher.

  • Sebastian Brannstrom

    That looks like the Hays galleria in London, but I don’t remember any stairs being there. So where is it?

  • Great picture Trey! I too remember this from the webinar. Yeah red telephone boxes have been dying for years. Any type of telephone box produced by BT in the last 25 years has been one of those modern looking ones anyway but there is definitely something characteristically Britsh about red telephone boxes. If you head out of london you can still find them in quite a few remote rural places. I pictured one last week in Bibury, Gloucestershire

  • There’s a village relatively near me where the phone boxes have been converted to other uses (a mini art gallery and a mini library of all things are the ones I remember).

    I will have to try and get out there this weekend and get a couple of photos of them. Not sure if they got listed status as mentioned by Paul but it’s quite likely.

    Nice to see them being used for something rather than being left devoid of a phone and slowly getting damaged over the years because they are unloved.

  • Cool shot and great reflection in the glass of the booth!

  • Ben

    The red phone booths are in decline all over the UK. London probably has the most left.

    Actually here is an article from today I just saw about how these phone booths are living on:

  • Superb shot Trey – great texture and detail on the paving stones… cool retro look to the phone boxes too!
    It’ll be a shame if these phone boxes do all disappear… they’re such an iconic UK feature however, I can see where BT is coming from regarding maintenance… especially if you’ve ever had the pleasure of using one on a Sunday morning in any major UK city, town or village for that matter… the distinct smell of urine is just wonderful! Yet another reason why we decided to flee the UK… flippin’ lager louts, yeah! 😉

  • Damian

    Yes, such a shame the red phone boxes are being phased out as they are such an iconic ‘I went to London, here’s me next to…’ photo.

    They don’t quite look the same with the windows replaced in this story but at least they live on –
    And even better that that… –

    A sad fact I remember from childhood is most were used as toilets and stank.

  • Gail in Montana

    Great shot, Trey!! Those phone booths are disappearing everywhere, that’s for sure. With cell phones in use, there just isn’t a need for them anymore. It’s a shame that the nice looking ones in London are disappearing, also. Thanks for posting another great photo 🙂

  • Great stuff. Really enjoyed this in the webinar! Hope the beginning of your 40th revolution around the sun finds you well.

  • Thanks everyone! 🙂

  • Arun Prasad

    It is true that these are old ones and are not used much nowadays. I recently heard that the company BT is considering changing them into cash machines so that they can preserve the vintage booths.

  • There’s one in the village just up the road from my house so they still exist even in backwaters like my home town! Up here they seem to be converting these into cash machines and public information booths – even the blue police boxes (Dr.Who) are being converted into things as crazy as coffee shops! I’d rather see them converted than replaced with some glass/metal flatpack eyesore!

  • Great photo.

    Sort of a shame to see these iconic booths pass into history. It would be cool to have one for home. 🙂

  • Eric Pearson

    @Jimi, I was thinking the same thing. Turn it into a photo booth for visitors.

  • Exit Through the Gift shop is awesome and a really fun documentary, rumor has it the crazy french guy might actually be Banksy himself, to the extent he actually is one person, which would put the conclusion into a new perspective if you think about it, intensely insane film and smarter than a lot of the more “serious” films that’s for sure.

    Btw Trey, love your work!

  • Peggy

    What a lovely nostalgic photo!!!

  • Trey, I hate to see them go. One of my favorite images is a shot of one of the red phone booths my wife & I discovered while driving on the isle of Skye. It was quite literally in the middle of nowhere. You can see the image here:
    I assume it was the community phone before the locals had cell service.


  • Great texture in this shot, well done as always. Keep em coming!

  • Avery

    Awesome. I know exactly where that is. Did you perhaps take any pics from the other direction of that crazy modern art pirate ship looking thing that is just barely visible in the back of the photo? It’s quite an odd thing.

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  • I love those phonebooths to death. It’s really sad to see them disappearing.

    But Banksy made an incredible piece out of one! First time I had ever put two & two together was when I watched “Exit Through the Gift Shop”. What a ride that documentary was. I’m still puzzled by the motive MBW had in the end.

    And Trey, what ISO do you like to shoot at when you’re doing more low-light HDR? I’ve gotten some really nasty looking HDR on a couple of night shots I’ve put together.

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