Polyfoto had studios equipped with special Polyfoto cameras, in most major cities. In 1939 London alone had twenty. Click here for a list of polyfoto Studios
The 48 exposures were photographed on a glass plate using a single lens Polyfoto camera. The resulting print sheet resembles stills from a movie film.
The sitter was asked to look this way and that. Sometimes the session was stopped, to remove a hat or coat.
The photographer would chat to the sitter to put them at ease and often induced a genuine smile.
Children were often given a ball or balloon to play with.
Wartime Polyfotos were given as parting gifts and often have poignant notes on the back.
These simple photographs were carried in purses, wallets and paybooks in every theatre of war.
Polyfotos often catch the personality of the sitter in a way that a formal portrait can
They survive in family photo collections all over Britain either as single portraits or irregular shaped groups of "rejects".
Original Photographs processed by Polyfoto of Borehamwood
From what I can gather Polyfotos were photographed on a single glass plate which measured 5 inches (130 mm) by 7 inches (180mm). Each exposure negative measured ½ an inch (13mm) square.. The glass plate was moved inside the single lens camera body using a crank handle. From the glass plate an enlarged a proof sheet of 48 x 1¼inch square positives was sent to the customer. A whole 11½" x 8¾" proof sheet was covered by a transluscent paper sheet printed with 48 numbers. The 48 pictures on the proof sheets I have seen consisted of 8 rows of 6. (although one book says the glass plate consisted of 4 rows of 12 ?)
" The best ones are always missing, they were given away"