Over half a century before the term “selfie” was even coined, portrait booths hit the streets of New York – attracting over 200,000 customers in its first six months. Invented by Anatol Josepho in 1925 the Photomaton, now referred to as a photo booth, was a huge success – becoming an enduring part of worldwide popular culture. The booths and their accompanying photo setup have been featured in radio programs, comics, movies and television shows fashioned as a common social activity for family outings, gatherings of friends and dates.
Enter the smartphone with its built-in camera and plethora of available applications including Snapchat and Instagram. In addition to increasing accessibility to photo and video capability, smartphones provide a wide range of filters and editing capabilities previously reserved for professionals. With so much available in a common handheld device many would presume the large, unwieldy photo booth would simply fall by the wayside.
Capturing the Moment
The appeal of photos has always been the ability to capture and share an event or moment. Film cameras, while widely used, required time for photo development to create archival quality photo printing. The introduction of the Polaroid addressed the consumer desire for immediacy while lacking the permanence of standard photography.
Digital cameras and mobile phones, while providing an even faster viewing experience than Polaroid, are stored as data. While the images can be shared online, they lack physical permanence and require special printing to create the quality, long-lasting photographs required for photo albums, scrapbooks, calendars and other memorabilia.
Photo booths have always offered a certain level of instant gratification when it comes to photos. However, time technology have allowed booth manufacturers to significantly enhance the nature of both product and experience. Many photo booths now combine some of the best features of digital photography and mobile applications within the unique booth platform.
In-booth editing and filters
Online photo sharing to popular social media sites
In booth or environmental (out of booth) photos
Despite the advent of digital photography and specialty photo editing and sharing applications, photo booths remain widely popular across age groups. Their nostalgic/vintage perception, timeless product and ability to keep up with technology have transformed these machines from pop culture phenomenon into a preferred and often searched for consumer device. Rather than boot the photo booth into obsolescence, digital photography has established these machines as a go-to for any game room or event.