American Photobooth is a new illustrated history of photobooths, which first made their splash in the 1920s. Photographer Nakki Goranin became obsessed with the technology after creating a series of her own photobooth self-portraits now in the collection of the International Center for Photography in New York. She then spent nearly a decade tracing the history and culture of photobooths and collected thousands of vintage photobooth prints, like those above. The new issue of Smithsonian profiles Goranin and includes an online slideshow of images from the book. From Smithsonian:
Goranin doesn't much care for the mall's machine, which is digital–the print quality is not what it used to be. But, she says, there are only about 250 authentic chemical booths left in the United States...Photobooth article (Smithsonian), Buy American Photobooths (Amazon)
Before the photobooth first appeared, in the 1920s, most portraits were made in studios. The new, inexpensive process made photography accessible to everyone. "For 25 cents people could go and get some memory of who they were, of a special occasion, of a first date, an anniversary, a graduation," Goranin says. "For many people, those were the only photos of themselves that they had."
Because there is no photographer to intimidate, photobooth subjects tend to be much less self-conscious. The result–a young boy embracing his mother or teenagers sneaking a first kiss–is often exceptionally intimate. "It's like a theater that's just you and the lens," Goranin says. "And you can be anyone you want to be."
David Pescovitz is Boing Boing's co-editor/managing partner. He's also a research director at Institute for the Future. On Instagram, he's @pesco.