The Dying Breed of Photobooths

It’s no surprise that analogue film is sadly dying out, from the moment digital technology in photography began to rise the film industry took a huge hit. I absolutely adore film photography still, and even though I don’t shoot 35mm film as often as I’d like to it’s still a process I enjoy and endeavour to have in my life.

Something I absolutely love, that you don’t see as much of nowadays, is a proper analogue photobooth. Yes I know there are digital ones dotted around everywhere but unless I’m updating my passport, they don’t interest me.

I want the old photobooths that you cram yourselves into with absolute glee, put your coins in, be blinded by the flash and then excitedly wait for the photos to appear. I want to hear the machine whirring away adding chemicals to paper to develop your cheerful portraits. If I’m going into a photobooth, that’s what I want!

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One saving grace is the relative affordability of Fujilm’s instant film camera collection and film, if I can’t have easy access to a photobooth at least I have these cameras to tide me over! They produce gorgeous old fashioned results and I highly recommend getting a camera like this if you enjoy film photography with a bit of ease!

Last year my friend Caitlin and I took a day-trip up to Manchester and while wandering around the streets of the city I spotted a photobooth in the window of a shop. As soon as I went in and saw how much it cost I was off to find a cash machine so we could take some photos in the booth, something I hadn’t done in a long long time! Returning to the shop, which was Fred Aldous by the way, Caitlin and I squished into the booth and took some brilliant photos, and they’re a great little token of our day.

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I’ve been doing some searching recently on where to find photobooths in London and I finally managed to track some down. Unsurprisingly the photobooths we have left in London can be found in the Shoreditch area predominantly, but then I saw that the Curzon Soho cinema had one! I’m quite an impatient person so after finding this out the next day I was dragging my boyfriend along to find it and take some photos.

I’ve never actually been into the Curzon cinema here and I definitely want to go there to see some films now. It looks like a great place to sit down with your laptop and get some work done, or to simply socialise with friends! For those interested, the photobooth is in the bar area of the cinema, tucked away in the corner. I presumed I’d need change for the booth but amazingly they’ve managed to attach a contactless card reader to it so you don’t even need to worry about having change! With a tap of your card and £3 out of your account you can get ready to take your photos!

I adore these. Perhaps we were the first to use it that day as the first strip had visible chemical marks on it still but the point of these photos isn’t for them to look perfect! We waited between 3-5 minutes for each strip to develop and it’s so worth it. To hear the clicking and whirring and knowing your print is on its way is the best!

The Curzon Soho is still at risk of closure, so please join in and sign this petition to save it, I promise it’ll only take you 20 seconds – if that! And go in search of photobooths, you’ll have a lot of fun getting snapped in them.

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2 thoughts on “The Dying Breed of Photobooths

  1. elmediat says:

    Good post. Technology and social patterns can be very transient. This process of change can add and remove shared experiences that disrupts the the chain of cultural memory. We have to make an effort to retain the memory and experiences, even if those who may access it are limited. In my small community in Northern Ontario (Canada) the movie theatre shut down because it cost too much to upgrade the building and technology. The nearest movie theatres are in larger communities several hours away. Another shared experience becomes lost.

    Are you familiar with the blog Photobooth Journal ? Fascinating collection of original photobooth shots and background history.

    • rukayacesar says:

      Thank you for such a thoughtful comment! I totally agree with your opinions on this. I definitely think certain trends will reverse and come back into the public forum – I hope so anyway! But in a way I kind of enjoy them being a little secret still. I’ve seen their blog yes! :)

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