A Brief History of the Photo Booth

29th Apr

Here at It’s The Flash Pack, we have a love for all things photographic. Whether that’s developing new immersive photo experiences such as the Freezus Curve or just appreciating the charm of the old fashioned photo booth - we love capturing the moment. We’ve touched on our infatuation with the old school Woolworth’s photo booths here but now, it’s time to look into the spark of our obsession even further, with a brief history of how it all started…


We have to give credit to the pioneers of ‘do-it-yourself’ photography, who brought the medium to the mainstream, made it instant and allowed it to be accessible to everyone. This phenomenon has only grown, exploding in the 21st century with the birth of social media, in particular, Instagram. We can now snap an image, edit its appearance and upload it in a matter of seconds. But where’s the magic in that?

Despite these advances in technology, we are still obsessed with the vintage ‘look’ of old school photo booth pictures. Smartphone apps offer endless options of edits and filters to make your digital photos taken in 2016, look like they were taken in the summer of ‘69 with a Pentax 67.  

So, where did it all start?

The photo booth as we know it, was invented by Siberian immigrant, Anatol Josepho, with the first ‘Photomaton’ photo booth appearing on Broadway, New York in 1925. Many imitated the concept of a coin operated photo booth and soon, DIY photography had become an international success!

See here Mr Josepho in his Photomaton, striking a pose with Timmy the terrier.

Dancing in the booth

The photo booth was given the official ‘cool factor’ in 1953 by Hollywood star, Fred Astaire in the film; The Band Wagon (link). One scene saw the heartthrob, Astaire (known for his moves) dancing inside the booth and sitting down for a photo - all in time with the music - hunky!  From this appearance, the photo booth had secured its place as a fixture in popular culture and it never looked back!

Fast forward to 2001, the cult French film (and hipster classic), Amélie, uses the photo booth as the heart of the film’s storyline. Amélie uses passport style pictures taken in a métro station photo booth to communicate a message to a man she has fallen in love with.




Popular with the stars

Now, in an era where nothing is secret and we can view snippets of each other’s daily lives from a click of a button, it is not so unusual to view the intimate moments of the celebrity world. 

Kim Kardashian, the self-proclaimed ‘selfie queen’ has capitalised on this intrusive obsession by posting daily updates to her 68.8 million Instagram followers allowing anyone and everyone to have an insight into her reality. However, this never used to be the case…

Back in the good old days, we didn’t have the same exposure to the day to day lives of the rich and famous. There was an air of mystery around the ‘IT’ crowd. Therefore, viewing a photo booth picture of Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, John Lennon, JFK and Jackie O feels like an insight into an intimate and secret moment. These personal photos humanise these icons. Just like us, they would have stepped behind the velvet curtain, inserted their spare change and waited for the flash to go, excited to see the result.

Where are we now? - Reinventing a classic

85 years after the first appearance of the automated photo booth, our first venture started back in 2010 and 6 years later, It’s The Flash Pack has established itself as the industry leaders. We understand that the spontaneous and intimate photo booth moment holds a special place in our culture and so, we decided to give it the recognition it deserves.

To help you inject some Hollywood glamour into your event or just to recreate those nostalgic moments from your teens, we designed the Vintage studio set-up and the Retro booth.

The ‘razzle dazzle’ of your event, the Vintage studio set-up will transport you back to the Golden Age.

Should you want to keep it real - our Retro booth is our nod to the old school Berlin Photoautomat street booths.

Go for black and white like JFK and Jackie O or we’ll capture you in colour, should you see yourself more as a 00’s Queen B. We’ve put The Flash Pack spin on this one though - you can honour the history of the medium and take home your passport style prints to keep forever, or go digital to get those social media ‘likes’. Whatever your preference, It’s The Flash Pack believe the classic photo booth is iconic and it’s here to stay.