Remembering Photo Booths

Growing up without cells phones had its advantages; free time without interruptions or distractions and a lot of spontaneous fun. I say this because that’s exactly what we had…fun. Back in those days many of us would cruise the local malls with friends by our sides, with no real intent of shopping…it was just a place to hang out together and live life. With no cell phones back then, it meant no social media outlets to be checking in with or snapping selfies. We had enclosed photo booths!

Photo booths in malls and other public places were common while growing up, beginning in the 50’s…it gained popularity quickly… right into the 70’s; and while some may laugh at it today, we found it entertaining, all the while making memories . Of course most people today have a cell phone with the ability to snap photos all day long, but the difference was in the unrehearsed moments, right until we stepped in front of the camera in the photo booth. Today people get prepared or rehearse for their selfies, and use their apps, and or photo shop their pics…it’s not exactly spontaneous. It brought friends together in a different way years ago… it was raw and uncut. The photos came out in small strips (framed) and would have four to eight, black & white images on them; we’d all wait in anticipation, as it took nearly eight minutes to process; at times longer. As we entered the photo booth, we would pile on each other’s laps all trying to fit our faces into the frame before it snapped the pictures; silliness was part of the fun. Today, you don’t do those types of things because everyone has cell phones, and there’s no need to pile on laps to fit in the frame of the photo. The types of pictures taken in photo booths would come out of a slot once they were processed, and the film might sometimes be wet from the ink. While many think that it’s too “old school’… they fit perfectly into our pockets and wallets; it was in those shared moments with another that we’d find ourselves embracing for years to come. Enclosed photo booths spurred different behaviors for some, such as; sharing hugs or maybe a first kiss, while others made faces (silly) and or made the peace sign behind ones’ head. Life was simpler back then, kind of like photos… black & white.

By the 1970’s, it was Polaroid which was thought to bring the decline in the photo booth business, as sales were slumping, as they were using an instant camera with larger prints and offering a variety of backgrounds; believing it would serve more people with an interest. However, it only began a new trend of users, as some began thinking about passport photos and more. This would bring about new changes to the industry; digital technology would revolutionize a new kind of photo booth by a Japanese company. Advance technology soared enough that they would make them portable, enabling them to be used at weddings and other venues through the early millennial years. As technology continued to better itself, a new innovated photo booth was born and so was the first Photo Booth Supply Co. With quick success it enabled them to launch and produce booths to the masses. Constant changes and advances in the technology meant no more heavy set ups or curtains to go behind, as they went current with the times and welcomed social media to their world. People don’t take pictures and put them in their wallets any longer, instead they share themselves on sites such as Face Book, Instagram or Snapchat. Technology will continue to change with the demands of people, so having a host of internet enabling features and templates are the most sought after tools today.

For what it’s worth, I believe that photo booths could still serve a different genre of people in this world. It would take someone to think beyond the ‘norm’ to create a new kind of booth, while branding and marketing it successfully. Having a photo booth in malls just might inspire us to do something fun and spontaneous once again; on a spur of the moment…and I’m pretty sure this world could use a few more smiles right about now. J J J

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