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Henry's Photos: A Midway Tradition Dating Back to 1940
Henry Tindal celebrates 6 decades of business on the midway

4/26/2017

By Don Muret

Photo courtesy of Don Muret

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- Henry Tindal is a rare breed. He's run a photo booth on carnival midways over the past 50 years that's helped put his four children through college. But he's also been a pastor for 43 years at a small church in Baltimore and has a street named after him on the city's east side.

In his position as man of God, Tindal has presided over multiple baptisms, funerals and memorial services for people in the outdoor amusement industry.

"I fill in the gaps wherever they need me," Tindal said. 

Henry's Photos was founded in 1940 by his father, Henry Tindal Sr. A vintage black and white photograph of his father hangs in Tindal's small trailer, along with other pictures of his family. All told, the junior Tindal, now 68, has worked the booth for abPhoto By Don Muretout 60 years, counting the years he worked for his father as a youngster.

Over the past six decades, Henry's Photos has booked with most of the major carnivals working the East Coast, including Reithoffer Shows, Deggeller Attractions and Powers' Great American Midways, plus long-gone operations such as Gooding's Million Dollar Midways, Dell & Travers Shows and World of Mirth.

At the Charlotte Fair here next to Charlotte Motor Speedway, Tindal was set up with Amusements of America. The Maryland native relocated to Charlotte a few years ago and he's on the road intermittently from March through November. The carnival's route takes Tindal from New York to Georgia. Over the years, he got to know all five Vivona brothers.

Growing up on the carnival circuit, Tindal remembers when photo booths were called "mug joints" and vendors developed pictures with strong chemicals that smelled so bad that nobody wanted to be near the concession. Over time, Tindal converted to taking Polaroid pictures and he now uses a digital camera. 

These days, though, everybody who owns a smartphone has a built-in camera that takes professional quality photos. But Tindal says there's still a demand for his product among families and groups of friends visiting carnivals that want more than just the typical "selfie."

"When Polaroid came out, I thought it would be the end of my business, and the same thing with digital," he said. "But people still buy pictures. We offer frames, key chains and snow globes. If you take a selfie, you don't have anywhere to store it except for your phone."

When his father started the business, he charged a nickel for a photo. After Tindal took over in the 1960s, he raised the price to one photo for 35 cents and two images for 50 cents. A frame cost a dime. Fifty years later, he charges $10 to $35 for photos and frames, depending on the size of the picture holder.  

Those costs have gone up for the customer as his overhead gets more expensive. "The greatest expense now is privilege," he said, referring to the rent charged by carnivals.

"I've enjoyed it though," he said. "Like everybody else, I've had my ups and downs. But I've made so many friends out here. It's been a rewarding and wonderful experience."

Apart from his carnival job, Tindal founded the First Church of Faith, Power and Deliverance in Baltimore in 1974, a modest 50-member congregation. He later became a bishop overseeing 40 Pentacostal churches. Eight years ago, he turned his church over to his son, also named Henry.

A few years ago, the city of Baltimore renamed Eager Street to Bishop Henry A. Tindal Sr. Way, after Tindal helped make several neighborhood improvements through the church. The street is not far from the renowned Johns Hopkins Hospital. 

"I'm proud of the recognition," he said.

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