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  • Writer's pictureJeanette Schenk

The History of the Photo Booth

Updated: Dec 1, 2023

Picture it: the late 19th century. Photography was a serious affair, involving big cameras, long exposure times, and not a hint of a smile. But then, along came the idea of the photo booth, and suddenly, the world of photography got a touch of whimsy.

In the 1920s, when flapper dresses and jazz were all the rage, a Russian immigrant named Anatol Josepho decided that photography was just too stuffy. He dreamed up a magical contraption called the "Photomaton." It was like a tiny room with a curtain, and when you stepped inside, something amazing happened. You could take quick pictures of yourself, and voilà, out popped a strip of photos that captured your silliest expressions.

The inventing of the photo booth
From the desk of Jeanette Schenk, owner of Shortcake Photo LLC and Hammie The Photo Booth

People flocked to these "Photomaton" contraptions, and they soon became the bee's knees of entertainment. It was like the original Instagram, only way cooler because you got actual printed photos! Everyone from flappers to dapper gents was suddenly struck by the urge to squeeze into a tiny booth and make goofy faces.

Fast forward to the 1960s when color photography was all the rage. Suddenly, photo booths were as vibrant as a psychedelic dream. People could capture their wild and groovy outfits in full color glory. It was like stepping into a time machine filled with neon lights and disco balls.

Then came the digital age, and photo booths had to get with the program. They shed their film coats and went all high-tech. Suddenly, you could add funny digital props, change backgrounds, and even share your creations on the interwebs. It was like the photo booth had been to a Silicon Valley spa and come out looking fabulous.

A retro photo booth from the 60s
1960s Photo Booth

Today, photo booths come in all shapes and sizes, from classic enclosed booths, sleek open-air setups, to retro trailers souped up with hi-tech gear (like Hammie The Photo Booth, below). Some even do fancy stuff like making GIFs and videos. They've become the life of the party, the star of weddings, and the secret weapon of corporate events. They're like the photogenic life of every shindig.

A vintage trailer photo booth with props
2023 Modern Photo Booth

So, there you have it, the history of the photo booth. From its stuffy beginnings to its wild and wacky present, it's been a journey filled with laughter, smiles, and the occasional goofy hat. Here's to the photo booth, the unsung hero of photography that keeps us grinning from ear to ear, one strip of silly photos at a time! 📸😄


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