Bringing the 1920’s back to life with a vintage photo booth - Booth19

Bringing the 1920’s back to life with a vintage photo booth

There is an interesting article in the Daily Telegraph about the history of the photo booth. The story relates to Anatol Josephewitz (later Josepho) and his journey from Siberia to Berlin, to the USA, back to Hungary, then China, and finally to Hollywood in the USA. It details how he learned about photography and how he struggled to find a way to develop photographs which did not require the use of massive glass plates as early daguerreotype images required. It was this desire to radically change the processing element of photography and bring photographs within reach of the mass market and not just the wealthy which allowed him to pursue his ideas for what he saw as his future – the photo booth.

It was in the middle of the 1920’s that Anatol’s first photo booth went into operation. As the article describes:

“This slight, handsome, vivacious inventor constantly won people over with his enthusiasm and brilliance. By September 1925 he had opened up his Photomaton Studio on Broadway, between 51st and 52nd streets. Crowds, as many as 7,500 people a day, would line up to have their photos taken for 25 cents for a strip of eight: the place came to be known as ‘Broadway’s greatest quarter-snatcher.’ The New York governor and a senator were among those waiting for the fun of the automatic photo strip. A white-gloved attendant would guide people to the booth and, once inside, direct them to ‘look to the right, look to the left, look at the camera”.

The thought of 7,500 people queuing to have their photograph taken is quite mind boggling, but of course the photo booth, the Photomaton, was a totally new concept and as Anatol had hoped, photography, and fun photography at that, had come to the masses. Of course there was the other side to this invention as, having borrowed $11,000 from friends at a time when $2,000 would have bought you a very good house, within a year he sold the US rights to his photo booth for $1million.

Today many of us have experienced the ‘photo booth’ as an almost obligatory means of obtaining ID and passport photographs. However the booths today are cold, stark and have had all the fun elements stripped out of them. For those of us old enough to remember the 1960’s to the 1990’s, a trip to the local photo booth was almost a rite of passage as you and your best friend squeezed into the photo booth together, or on a good day, that would be four of you! Perhaps with the development of the mobile phone camera and ‘selfies’ the need for a photo booth for all but passport photos has disappeared.

However you would be wrong, as we are enjoying discovering at Booth19, a mobile photo booth which is available for hire either in Bristol or anywhere in the UK for that matter. What started out as an idea has now become almost a ‘must have’ both at weddings and themed parties. The portable photo booth is designed in a classic Art Deco 1920’s style, and has become a hit at flapper parties and ‘prohibition nights’ – the 1920s seem to have become incredibly popular as a theme these days.

At weddings the design of the photo booth is such that it does not look out of place anywhere, and guests love having the opportunity to have some of the older-style photos taken of four or six people all trying to squeeze into the picture. Add instant images from a high-quality printer, just as you get from an old-fashioned photo booth but without the 5 minute delay, and everything is complete. So how about it? We know your guests will love having the chance to have a ‘real’ photograph taken of them in all their finery, so why not give us a call at Booth 19? Feel free to ask any questions and on the basis we are not already booked on the day of your event, we will be delighted to set up one of our booths and leave you in the capable hands of an operative who will be in attendance all the time the photo booth is with you.