Going to the photobooth at the local Woolworth’s was a special event, which meant getting dressed up, smoothing down hair, wearing those clothes kept for Jesus on a Sunday. This was a chance to show what you were truly like to a loved one, or a friend, or a distant relation, or maybe a blank official stamping your passport. The photobooth was a private place to show your public face, to be seen how you wanted the world to see you.
In the 1970s, I recall how a lot of teenagers spent their money crammed in photobooths taking a strip of four snaps that sealed their love or friendship, or some idealised vision of themselves. The local bus stop had a large glass covered map of the city detailing the bus routes and times. Into this glass display were slipped dozens of photobooth portraits of youngsters (looking straight at camera) wanting some kind of recognition for being alive, like a low-tech Facebook
The patent for the first photobooth machine was filed by William Pope and Edward Poole of Baltimore in 1888. Apparently it was never built, and the first working model didn’t appear until French inventor T. E. Enjalbert produced one for the World Fair in Paris in 1889. This was followed by the first commercially available photobooth called the “Bosco“ and created by Conrad Bernitt in 1890.
The modern photobooth as we know it today only came into common use when Anatol Josepho arrived in New York from Russia in 1923, and established the first 25c photobooth on Broadway in 1925. The booth took ten minutes to produce eight photos, and during its first six months was used by 280,000 people.
This selection of women taking pictures, reveals how the privacy of the booth allowed people to express themselves—as can be seen in the pictures of two women sharing their love for each other, circa 1900s, when such signs of affection were not permissible.
1900s and 1910s.
And finally, here’s Doctor Who star Karen Gillan, who knows how to photobooth! (Date unknown, but she can travel time and space…)
Via Glamour Daze