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The Photo Booth: When did it become so Popular? 

by Nicholas Rhodes
Last Updated on August 28, 2023
Couple plays footsie in photo booth

From weddings to corporate events, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, Quinceaneras, Graduations, and all kinds of parties and marketing events, a photo booth experience is always present, in one way or another.

Up until now, you may have thought that there’s only one way to experience and enjoy a photo booth. Well, you thought wrong. 

1889: the first patent for a photo booth is granted to william pope and edward poole in baltimore, maryland. 1925: anatol josepho introduces the first automatic photo booth in new york city. It quickly becomes popular and spread across the united states. 1930s-1950s: photo booths are common in public places such as train stations, malls, and amusement parks around the globe 1960s-1980s: the popularity of photo booths declined as personal point-and-shoot cameras, and instant polaroid photography become more prevalent. 1990s: fully-automated, full-color photo booths that ran on computers came on the market. The booths could print photos within seconds, causing vintage photo booths to lose popularity. 2000s: the rise of digital photo booths using dslrs begins with companies offering them for events and parties. 2017s: the rise of ipad photo booths begins as companies start to offer them for events and parties. 2022s: vintage photo booths show a resurgence in popularity among younger generations, who appreciate film strips' nostalgic and authentic feel. Today: photo booths continue evolving, with many offering digital and vintage film-based options. They are a popular form of entertainment at events and provide guests with instant gratification and personalized keepsakes.

From the beginning to now, the history of the Photo Booth Rental!

Technological developments that have come about since the original invention of the photo booth, have made it so infinite creative experiences are possible. To date, you may only have experienced the “old school” close the curtain and smile type photo booth with its simple design and the classic black and white captures. You might be surprised to learn that there are many other versions that came before (and even after) this classic photo booth. 

T. E. Enjalbert. Apparatus for automatic photography. Patented sept. 16, 1890.

The Photo Booth: How it started

Photo booths have been in the zeitgeist since the late 1800s. The earliest photo booth patent was filed in 1888 by William Pope and Edward Poole in Baltimore, but there is no known record of a working version. 

The first-ever working photo booth was made by French inventor T.E. Enjalbert in March 1889 and was presented later that same year at the World’s Fair in Paris. He named it the “Apparatus for Automatic Photography” (which sounded way cooler in french: Appareil pour la photographie automatique).  A similar machine was patented only a year later in America by photographer Mathew Steffens. These earlier versions were not as impressive as they thought they would be as they still required a lot of manpower (at least 20 people) and were not as efficient as they intended them to be. 

The inventor of The Photo Booth: Anatol Marco Josepho 

While a few had tried before, the photo booth as we think of it today was created by Anatol Marco Josepho. Born as Anatolу Markovich Yozefovich in Tomsk, Russia on March 31, 1894. Josepho was born to a wealthy family of jewelers. He started showing interest in photography at the age of 15 using his first Brownie camera. In his teens, he went to a technical institute to pursue his growing interest in photography. Before the beginning of the first World War, his father sent him to Germany where he studied photography. This is when he began conceptualizing his “automatic photo machine”. 

After studying, he moved to Budapest and opened his own photography studio at the age of 19. At the start of World War One, he moved his studio to Shanghai. He immigrated to the United States in the early 1920s and settled in New York. After settling into life in America his ideas of the Photomaton were materialized. 

Anatol marco josepho inventor of the modern photo booth

The Photomaton: The Original Photo Booth

The closest version of the photo booth we know today was invented by Anatol Marco Josepho in 1925. The coin-operated machine he called “Photomaton '' was introduced on Broadway in New York. This version was used by more than 200,000 people, all of which waited patiently for 8 minutes while their photo strips developed. In the age of instant gratification we live in today, it’s hard to imagine that the 8 minutes felt magically quick back then. 

After this success, he created the Photomaton Company and a fun fact is that the future president Franklin D. Roosevelt was actually on his board of directors.  The Photomaton Company went on to install booths all over the country. In 1928, Josepho sold the rights to his invention to Henry Morganthau Sr. He was paid $1,000,000 for it and was promised a guaranteed lifetime royalty. 

Photo booths by outsnapped
Andy warhol photo booth pictures book

Fast forward to today

A lot has changed throughout photo booths over their hundred+ years of history. Probably the most notable and captivating turning point of the photo booth was its unification with pop culture. Thanks to Andy Warhol, the photo booth is no longer just a “machine that captures photos” but is considered a form of art in and of itself. Warhol popularized it as an art form anyone can be a part of.

Warhol's contribution to art, photography, and pop culture is what inspired many creative minds to contribute to what the photo booth is today. OutSnapped’s founder Nicholas Rhodes is one of the many creatives that helped modernize the photo booth experience with innovative ideas that took the photo booth to its next level. With vast experience in event hosting, photography and videography, OutSnapped has been pioneering groundbreaking photo booth experiences for hundreds of events for our clients every year. Let’s dive right into the reasons why our clients love us.


OutSnapped Classic Experience

This version of the photo booth has not strayed far from what was conceptualized and invented by Anatol Josepho. It has retained its vintage look on the outside while having technological improvements like the use of artificial intelligence for instant skin retouching hidden away within. Just like its original version, our Magbooth also produces photo strips. But unlike the original, our photo booth can print your snaps in less than 13 seconds instead of the original 8 minutes.

OutSnapped’s close the curtain and smile type of photo booth also has the capability to safely store your silly or glamorous moments in an online gallery. This way, you’ll be able to view every photo, download or share, and even order reprints. While you have the option to use physical props, our Magbooth can use our proprietary AI integrations to also pre-load stickers and custom graphics you can use while having fun taking pictures inside our photo booth.

Everlast branded futurefoto

The FutureFoto

Just like what the name suggests, this is our future-forward approach to photo & video booth experiences. Although it may not look like a traditional photo booth at all, it does everything a traditional booth does to document precious memories from your events with infinitely more creative opportunities like slow-motion video, animated GIFs, and more!

Out FutureFoto is a free-standing photo booth with our proprietary glowing beautifying ring light. With a footprint of fewer than 2 feet by 2 feet, Its compact design makes it ideal for smaller venues and exciting enough to be an attraction to a bigger venue. 

Just like our Magbooth, our FutureFoto can also include stickers and augmented reality props. Aside from taking still photos, you can also create GIFs and boomerangs, and event interactive videos. The FutureFoto also encourages photo sharing directly on the unit and you can access your photos later using your event’s online gallery.


OutSnapped FotoRover

 Who would’ve thought that what was once a stationary event attraction can actually be something that can actually move through your event and take photos? That’s right, our FotoRover is a mobile photo booth! We have our friendly staff who is happy to bring this awesome photo experience directly to your guests wherever they are at your event! Complete with our beautifying ring light, your guests enjoy unlimited photos, GIFs, or Boomerangs with stickers and augmented reality props. Guests can share their photos via text message or email in real-time and your gallery will be available online post-event. 

OutSnapped 360°

Outsnapped 360 gif placeholder image

Made popular by none other than Cardi B, our 360° photo booth is our number one request this year. Your guests can step into the magic and our booth will capture video from all angles. 

It is built with a high-resolution video camera attached to a spinning mechanical arm that whips around your event guests. It may sound a little technical to operate but that’s one less of a worry for you and your guests as our highly trained professional team member will ensure that your guests enjoy the fun experience with our 360 photo booth.  

Computer gallery

OutSnapped Virtual and Hybrid Photo Booth

So, there was a time when everyone took a step back from having fun and delightful events and gatherings and settled at our homes -- which sadly is still the case for some people. The silver lining is that it definitely did not stop us from creating awesome experiences for our clients. Fun-loving people from our team made virtual events easy to use and more engaging than ever. 

From Hollywood premiers to tradeshows, to sales kick-offs, even if you were in the comfort of your home, guests can still enjoy taking photos and adding stickers (as props), creating videos, boomerangs, and GIFs. What’s even more interesting is that you can take group selfies with your friends even if you’re continents away from each other. Our browser-based app (no download required) makes this experience easily accessible even for your not-so-tech-savvy guests. 

By simply clicking on your event’s unique link or accessing it through a QR code from you and your guest’s device, you’ll get to experience our photo booth with virtual backgrounds, frames, and stickers all designed and custom-built for your event.

In Conclusion:

We’ve come a long way from taking photos and printing them in 8 minutes to being able to instantly share them worldwide with access online seconds after it was taken.  As we go from Zooming for virtual events to zooming back into hybrid and in-person events,  there will surely be more developments coming your way and at OutSnapped we promise we’ll be the first to take you to those experiences. 

At this time, with so many options to choose from, we know it can be overwhelming to decide which ones fit perfectly for your events. We’re happy to provide additional insights and help you make an informed decision for your event needs. 

As we always say to our clients, we’re the first ones to admit that our products are super visual, so if you find yourself thinking really hard to decide which photo booth to choose, let us know so we can jump in and help.

Most Frequently Asked Questions about the Invention of the Photo Booth

What Year Was the Photo Booth Invented?

T. E. Enjalbert. Apparatus for automatic photography. Patented sept. 16, 1890.

The first-ever working photo booth was made by French inventor T.E. Enjalbert in March 1889 and was presented later that same year at the World’s Fair in Paris. He named it the “Apparatus for Automatic Photography” (which sounded way cooler in french: Appareil pour la photographie automatique).  A similar machine was patented only a year later in America by photographer Mathew Steffens. These earlier versions were not as impressive as they thought they would be as they still required a lot of manpower (at least 20 people) and were not as efficient as they intended them to be. 

Who invented the Photo Booth?

Anatol marco josepho inventor of the modern photo booth

The first inventor was T.E. Enjalbert in 1889 but Anatol Marco Josepho is credited as the inventor of the modern photo booth.

5 Reasons Why You Need an Awesome 360° Photo Booth for Your Next Event

At This Point, You’ve Likely Heard Of A 360° Photo Booth Before But, You Might Be Surprised To Find Out That Some Of What You Think You Know, May Not Actually Be True. 

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