Photo Booth History - Blog Featured Image Showing a Classic Photo Booth

Photo Booth History – From the Early Days to the Life of the Party

A brief look into photo booth history

Surprisingly, photo booth history is a lot longer than people think, though the technology has remained virtually unchanged for years. It’s only within the past decade that technological advancements have transformed the photo booth into the magical vendor we know and love today, taking it from a giant machine that required technicians hours to develop the photos, to a digital booth that prints quality photographs within seconds.

So, exactly when were photobooths invented? We’ve decided to take a deep dive into photo booth history, ranging from its humble beginnings as a coin-operated booth to when it became a pop culture icon.

When was the photo booth invented?

The first fully operational photo booth was invented in 1925 by a Siberian immigrant, Anatol Josepho – almost a hundred years after the first photograph was created. Unveiled on Broadway near Times Square, Josepho invited an enraptured crowd to test out the ‘Photomaton.’ For only 25c, the booth photographed, printed, and developed 8 photos, which took a whole ten minutes to process. It’s rumoured that a staggering 280,000 people visited the Photomaton in its first six months alone – that’s roughly 1,500 people a day!

Before the modern photo booth, a similar prototype was created in 1889 and displayed at the Paris World Fair. However, the machine was not reliable or very user friendly and only printed on ‘ferrotypes’ – a photo printed on a thin sheet of metal.

Josepho ended up getting awarded $1 million for his invention ($14 million today) when he sold the rights to an investment group, who quickly spread it across the world.

Photo booths then soon began to gain popularity across Canada and Europe. As most people could not afford or have access to cameras, a photo booth was a relatively cheap way to capture fun memories. It was also the only way people could capture photos for their passport, as its specific requirements were exactly the shape and size a photobooth printed.

Photo booth history: Rise in popularity

The rise of photobooths grew rapidly during WWII as soldiers and loved ones took photographs to send one another. It also started to appear in movies and TV shows, gaining notoriety in a film called ‘The Band Wagon’ which featured Fred Astaire dancing out of a photo booth. However, the biggest standout in photo booth history was when Andy Warhol experimented with a pair of photo strips, immortalising the photo booth as a pop culture icon.

Over the next few decades, photo booths became commonplace in shopping centres, conventions and cinemas, providing an endless source of entertainment for bored teenagers.


One of the key moments in photo booth history would undoubtedly be the photo booth craze that swept Asian countries in the 90s. Commonly seen in shopping centres and arcades, sticker photo booths captured images digitally and allowed users to play with fun stockers on create backgrounds. So beloved was the photo booth that it created a cult following called ‘Purikura’ or ‘print club’ that is still popular to this day.

Jump to the late 2000s and photo booths have evolved with their portability, resulting in it quickly becoming a fun addition to social gatherings, events, and celebrations. Modern photo booth options allow for more customisation such as stickers and cool backdrops– making it extremely popular with people and businesses who want to amp up the fun factor.

Photo booths have come a far way since their humble beginnings, but their intentional purpose has never changed – to bring people together in a wholesome, entertaining way.

Eager to create some of your very own photo booth history? In Ya Face offers photobooth hire Brisbane wide that’s simple, and a cost-effective way to pump some fun into your event, whether it be an engagement party, work conference or wedding. Hire with us today!

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