Old Photo Booth

Friendships are strengthened, memories are born, relationships blossom at the confines of a comfy box called a photo booth. Love, laughter, and life itself contained in a booth full of memories.

These tiny fragments of memories called photos … some of us collect, some of us print out and display on our office tables and homes, have become a memento of the occasion itself.  A mere glimpse of a photo taken from the photo booth brings us back to that beautiful wedding vow, or the candles lit and blown at a birthday party, or the fun we had with our friends hoping the day would never end.

But the ever friendly and warm booth that we know today, has already had a lot of transformation over the ages.

Let’s travel down memory lane and see how this wonderful contraption started out and evolved over the ages.

Anatol Josepho and the Invention of the “Photomaton”

First Photobooth Strip of Josepho taken with his Terrier

Anatol JosephoThe photo booth that we now know and love was conceptualized by a Jewish Siberian Immigrant by the name of Anatol Josepho. He came to the US from Omsk, Russia and patented the very first photo booth which he called the “Photomaton” in 1925. Two years after, he was paid a millon dollars for his invention. Talk about hitting the jackpot. And at that time, a million bucks is worth more than one can imagine.

The Photomaton was a grand attraction that debuted in Manhattan in September 1925. It charged 25ȼ for a strip of eight photos that was developed in eight minutes. As this was something new for everyone, crowds formed and people were very interested to try out the photo booth. Trained attendants were very keen on making sure everyone had a great time with the new device and had their photos taken. The Photomaton was a sure success that spelled Josepho’s legacy for generations to come. In 1928 however, Josepho turned over the rights to the machine to Henry Morgenthau, Sr. for a million dollars. But it didn’t take away his bragging rights to have fathered and invented the wonderful machine.

Fred Astaire dancing into the “Photomatic”

After its invention, the fame of the photo booth spread across Canada and Europe. It has even been featured in a lot of famous movies only our grammas and grampas would know.

The first time a photo booth was featured was in the movie was 90 years ago in film called Lonesome. But what people would remember more about this device is a dancing Fred Astaire who takes a photo while dancing on a “Photomatic” photo booth in his film, The Band Wagon in 1953. Here’s a clip from the movie where we see the Photomatic and Astaire’s awesome moves.

Andy Warhol Photo Booth Pictures

Marilyn Monroe picturesPerhaps, when the topic of photo booth and art are being discussed, one can never finish the topic with mentioning Andy Warhol.

In 1963, when Harper’s Bazaar commissioned Andy Warhol to do the layout for a feature presentation, Warhol had the insane idea to use photo booths for his project. This paved the way for the photo booths to become a fad in all of its psychedelic promise, mixed with the era of freedom in art and finding your own voice through different media. This project then became a three year obsession with the photo booth, resulting in images of himself and other famous people during the era. Still, the most cohesive reference on this period was “Andy Warhol Photo Booth Pictures” by the Robert Miller Gallery of New York to accompany an exhibition of the photo strips.

Memories preserved throughout the ages

From its invention, development, usage in different forms of media across the ages, up to now, we see a glimpse of what the photo booth was before, and how it still captures each memory and every smile with the flick of a flash. This device will surely thrive for as long as there will be people who cherish seeing memories frozen in time through photos.