The Magic of the Photo Booth

The Magic of the Photo Booth

Why photo booths survive in a world of smartphones and selfie sticks

With photo booth competition rife and the rise (and rise) of selfie sticks, now titled by us as the measuring stick of narcissism, many have questioned how an automated photography machine would survive.

It’s simple really, whether you squeeze into a photo booth with your pals at your local supermarket or bundle into one of our own taxi photo booths and put on a fake moustache and mushroom hat on, when that curtain closes or door shuts behind you your inhibitions fall – strictly speaking, that could also be the alcohol.

The concept of the photo booth dates back to the 1890s, but it was not until 1925, when one Anatol Josephwitz sought funding to develop ‘The Photomaton‘. The incredible story of Josephwitz is a romantic tale of a courageous man battling in the face of adversity. Josephwitz fled to the United States after surviving a Siberian prison camp during the first World War. Whilst in captivity he passed the time by imagining an automated photography machine. Many companies have now perfected the process (phew we haven’t gone backwards then) but The Photomaton remains the first machine that became the little studio booth we know today.

Meags Fitzgerald, is behind the graphic novel, ‘PhotoBooth: A Biography’, the book highlights the story of Josephwitz’s rise as an inventor and businessman and also her own love affair with the photo booth. In an interview with Cult of Mac Fitzgerald said, “Photo booths don’t present a negative… “It’s a direct positive photo. Every photo is entirely unique, so each one is sort of precious. The thing that doesn’t appeal to me about digital photography really is the lack of ability to preserve them. We think we’re taking a lot of photos now, but we’re not actually leaving any records. We’re leaving digital data that gets corrupted or destroys itself. (With analog photos), I like the physical aspect that is left behind”.

Nearly 95 years later and it’s safe to say the photo booth is as tough a survivor as its inventor

The evolution of the photo booth today is no longer just a machine, it’s an experience that comes in all shapes and sizes. We like to think of ourselves as pioneers in the industry, being the original company to build photo installations inside cars and modernising the traditional indoor booths. Now try and find the history of the selfie stick and see how it compares.**

**note: everyone in the Megabooth office owns a selfie stick – bar none – even the accountant

You can read the original story on Cult of Mac