Retro-Me has been in the photo booth business for many years and during that time we’ve seen many claims about the history of the photo booth. In this post, we are going to look at questions surrounding the history of the photo booth.
Photo Booth History
Wikipedia is not always the best source of facts. It is a good starting point though and it states:
‘The patent for the first automated photography machine was filed in 1888 by William Pope and Edward Poole of Baltimore. The first known working photographic machine was a product of the French inventor T. E. Enjalbert (March 1889).’
But this photo booth was not reliable and not the commercial type of photo booth we cherish today. These machines produced images by a process of creating a direct positive on a thin sheet of metal coated with a dark lacquer. These images were known as ferrotypes, tintypes or melainotypes. So, not portable nor shareable like the digital prints we have today.
The First Commercial Photo Booth
The first fully-automatic photographic machine appeared in New York in 1925. The originator was a Siberian immigrant named Anatol Josepho. The booth was located on Broadway near Times Square and was named the Photomaton. Hardly a catchy name but it did have people queuing around the block.
The Photomaton is the first self-sufficient photo machine that could print high-quality images. Once established this machine spread across the USA. One Photomaton concession, located at the Strand Theatre, Broadway was so successful it kept the owner’s extended family employed through the Great Depression.
Photo Strip Costs in the 1900s
For a quarter (25 cents) a customer would receive a strip of eight images.
Photo Booths in Art and the Movies
Photo booths became all the rage and not just with the general public. Soon, artists and movie makers wanted to experiment with this new medium. Great surreal artists like Salvador Dali and movie makers like Luis Brunel were using the photo booth in their own fashion. In the 1950s the legendary Fred Astaire, in the movie Band Wagon, danced into a photo booth and poses in time to the music. In the 1960s Andy Warhol created a series of photomechanical portraits. Legend has it he would stand outside the booth with rolls of quarters directing his subjects into particular poses.
Photo Booths Culture
Did you know? In Japan, Purikura refers to a photo booth or the product of a photo booth. The name is a shortened form of the registered trade mark, Print Club. These machines were introduced in arcades in 1995. They are the precursor to the effects selfie apps produce.
Photo Booth Nostalgia
These early photo booths made quite an impression on the population. The popularity of the photo booth continues. As original photo booths are very hard to come by, a nostalgic trend, in keeping with the original booth’s look and production is the retro or vintage style booth that we just happen to supply!
Call us to find out more about our vintage-style photo booths.
The Retro-Me Team