The idea rose to its most prominent when a portable photo booth was hired for The X Factor 2009 wrap party. The X Factor – a craze in itself – spurned a huge surge of interest in the idea, especially as the show frequently used a similar idea known as the video booth. The video booth captured the contestants and their family at their happiest, saddest and most vulnerable as they relayed their responses to audition success and failure face to face with a camera.
The booth enclosure creates this sense of intimacy, and works with a photo booth as well. We all associate passport photography with instant photo booths that all carry the same common aesthetic – a booth, seat and curtain for privacy. These features are all consistent with photo booth’s hired for events, and provide the same sense of privacy and intimacy that gives the user the opportunity to reveal themselves on film.
Another aspect of the classic photo booth use is it’s nostalgia. Many people have used a photo booth at some time in their past, most likely as teenagers, to get photo’s taken with their boyfriend or girlfriends. The shy, intimacy aspect comes into play here also, whereby young relationships perhaps can’t create the photo booth pictures in any other environment together without getting embarrassed! Other’s may have used photo booths to bundle into with friends, to get a fun, unusual photographic keepsake. This perhaps is a more extroverted use of the booth, as friends competed to see who could pull the silliest face, or strike the best pose in the limited four flashes.
Either motive for using the photo booth is a great motive, with the end result being a photographic strip the users can keep and reminisce about. So we’re talking about a fun, un-domestic activity, that captures friends or partners in the moment and provides a memento of the moment? What a great idea! Shouldn’t people be using that for weddings and birthday parties?
It’s clear where the thinking came from and now hard to believe that the idea has only in the last twelve months become such a popular feature for events. But what, if you don’t necessarily have those nostalgic feelings and memories, will appeal to you most?
The novelty is of course a key factor. It’s not a common household item, unlike modern digital photography equipment. As technology and the internet has given people greater creative ability in their own home, the world of high quality photography is no longer considered elitist and the domestic prices of many standard digital SLR’s and printing equipment has led to the general public – formal elk grove photo booth photography training or not – to take on the hobby with industry standard products. Gone are the days when a family holiday would be documented on a disposable camera, or the prints would take five to ten days getting developed at the local chemists. Now, thanks to computers and digital cameras, special occasions with family and friends are only worth capturing if it can be saved to a hard drive and later shared on Facebook.
This leads us to the rise of social networking in modern culture. Now everybody with a Facebook, MySpace, Bebo account or similar is actively encouraged to upload photographs for their friends and family to view, the need for digital photography increases further. Every up-to-date mobile phone has a camera function and the ability to upload photographs online whilst on the move. It’s aspects of our current culture like this that have created a fascination with photography and documenting our day to day lives. This obsession means our society not only wants to take photographs, but they want to see the result instantly and share it just as rapidly.