Photo booths are a type of vending machine, which can be compared to modern day kiosks. They are mostly automated and often coin operated machines with both film processor and camera. Unlike thirty or so years ago today’s photobooths are digital and many are hooked up to the internet. However, traditionally these booths just contained a bench or a seat capable of only seating two patrons. The seat has a thick curtain which allows for some privacy and also helps keep away external interference from ruining the photo session.
After you’ve entered payment the booth will take a certain number or series of photos. That said many modern booths just take one photograph and will print out copies of the same picture. Prior to each picture the booth will sound an indicator which signals the patron to get ready for the shot. Once the pictures have been taken i.e. around 8 the booth will start to develop the film. In the old days wet chemistry was used to develop the film and took several minutes. Today, this is accomplished in around 30 seconds via a digital photo printer.
Dimensions of the pictures
While today’s photo booths can provide you with an array of print sizes in the old days things were a bit different. The classic size from most old school booths (some of which are still in use) are four pictures on a 40 mm wide and around 205 mm long strip. However, digital prints today have a square type arrangement with two images on top of two more images. In Australia you can find both black and white and color booths while in Europe the most common are black and white booths. Newer booths that use digital technology offer the option of both black and white or color after the picture is taken. This is because most booths today have digital cameras and are controlled by a computer. Many booths are also designed to produce postcards, stickers and even printed mugs in addition to just printed pictures.
Origins of the photo booth
William Pope along with Edward Poole from Baltimore were the first to file a patent for an automated photography machine back in 1888. The machine or the booth was never built according to some sources but the first really working machine was produced by T.E. Enjalbert a French inventor in 1889. The machine was featured in the World Fair of that year in Paris. However, these early machines were notorious for being un-reliable and were not truly self sufficient. The Bosco which was invented by Contrad Bernitt was probably the first commercially viable photography apparatus. But all these machines were producing ferrotypes until 1896 when the German inventor Carl Sasse added the first automatic photographic negative and positive process to the machine.
The modern concept of the booth with a thick curtain was the brainchild of Anatol Josepho who came to the US in 1923. His first photo appeared in 1925 on Broadway. Using these booths would cost 25 cents and it developed 8 fine quality photos which took 10 minutes. The booth received 280,000 users during the first six months. This led the Photomaton Company to erect booths around the country as a result Josepho was paid $1,000,000 and future royalties.
Today’s digital technology and powerful cameras have made photobooths increasingly popular. Unlike what many experts predicted the booth was not killed even by the proliferation of camera enabled phones. These booths have now become a part of parties, weddings, commercial launching ceremonies and proms. This has elevated their status from machines which were mostly intended for malls and carnivals to ones that people hire for their special events.
John Cone is a photography enthusiast. He currently working for http://www.fiestabooth.com.au/.He loves working on old and new photo booths and when he’s not doing that he’s out surfing!