Photo booths have been a part of American culture for over a century

Author: Darin Owen

Capital Photo Booth

Photo Booths maybe a relatively new addition to weddings and parties for the past few years but they have been apart of American culture for over a century.

According patent records, a man by the name of Mathew Stiffens filed a patent for an automatic photography machine in 1883. However, that same year Monsieur Enjalbert developed a similar machine at the Exposition Universelle in Paris producing melainotypes and tintypes for use as photographic keepsakes, this type of machine sprung up everywhere until after World War 1. The drawbacks to these machines were never totally self-sufficient and ultimately failed because of coin jams and their need for constant chemical changes and repairs. Even with the machines operational problems and their second rate photo quality by comparison to the more costly albumin and platinum prints of the day, thousands and thousands were produced. And much like the modern photo booths of today, they were an easy means to produce an inexpensive, albeit poor quality, photo for the masses.

Capital Photo BoothAs photography progressed, technological advances continued, and in 1925 Anatol Josepho, patented a machine called a ‘Photomaton.’ An automatic photography machine, the Photomaton produced a strip of 8 photographs of good quality in 8 minutes. The inventor had drawn up his plans for the machine while traveling across China as a traveling photographer, refined his technical ability while working in Hollywood, built the prototype in a Harlem loft produced his first modern photo booth studio at Broadway and 51st Street in New York City.

Today, things are changing. There are still a handful of traditional chemical booth photo booths around, producing the original photo strips of four black and white pictures. but many machines are being converted or replaced with modern technologies utilizing digital photography with options like email, facebook or abandoning traditional photography all together with video recordings. No matter what the format people love the photo booth for its immediacy and its element of nostalgia and holding on to a personal keepsake no matter what the quality or process.

Images provided by Capital Photo Booth Co.

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