Sparked by these vintage photo booth pictures (and the recent heat wave), I have been revisiting photo albums of my adolescence. I am nostalgic for my days counseling at a day camp in Brooklyn, playing the Ouija board with friends on the stoop, rainbow sherbert, mid-summer crushes, and outdoor rock concerts. Recent findings have shown nostalgia can actually be beneficial in treating depression and anxiety, so I don’t see the harm in letting myself succumb to these warm summer feelings. More than old movie stubs and party Polaroids, what could be more nostalgic than the photo booth image?
The vintage photo booth pool is a compilation of scans and uploads from over 200 myriad Flickr members. The uniqueness of the photo booth image comes from its signature size, border, and serial strip. Photo booth pictures follow the theory of the rule of thirds, a guide to artistic composition which cuts an image into a grid. Often there is high contrast (a feature those who use Instagram know and love) and like Polaroids, tiny skin imperfections are hidden. It is no wonder that love the old chemical photo booths and their tiny rewards.
Näkki Goranin, for The Telegraph, wrote a fascinating history of the photo booth starting from the first photo booth vending machine by Siberian immigrant Anatol Josephop. The history is remarkable with guest appearances by Fred Astaire and Andy Warhol.
Goranin’s article ends the story at modern day photo booths, which have, like everything else, gone digital. Sadly, the days of darkrooms in vending machines are dying, but the magic still lives in these old photographs and the lovely people who collect and digitize them.