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A photo booth is a vending machine or modern kiosk that contains an automated, usually coin-operated, camera and film processor. Today the vast majority of photo booths are digital. Traditionally photo booths contain a seat or bench designed to seat the one or two patrons being photographed. The seat is typically surrounded by a curtain of some sort to allow for some privacy and help avoid outside interference during the photo session. Once the payment is made, the photo booth will take a series of photographs, although most modern booths may only take a single photograph and print out a series of identical pictures. Before each photograph, there will be an indication, such as a light or a buzzer, that will signal the patron to prepare their pose. After the last photograph in the series (typically between 3 and 8) has been taken, the photo booth begins developing the film — a process that used to take several minutes in the old 'wet chemistry' booths, but is now typically accomplished in about 30 seconds with digital technology. The prints are then delivered to the customer.
Typical dimensions of these prints vary. The classic and most familiar arrangement from the old style photo booths is four pictures on a strip about 40 mm wide by 205 mm long; digital prints tend to have a square arrangement of two images above two images. Both black and white and colour photo booths are common in the US, however in Europe the colour photo booth has almost entirely replaced black and white booths. However, newer digital booths now offer the customer the option of whether to print in colour or in black and white. Most modern photo booths use video or digital cameras instead of film cameras, and are under computer control. Some booths can also produce stickers, postcards, or other items with the photographs on them, rather or as well as simply a strip of pictures. These often include an option of novelty decorative borders around the photos.
There are three countries in the world with major infrastructures of photo booths, the UK, Japan, and France. Many other countries have mature photo booth markets but with a lower level of penetration. These include Germany, Italy, Spain, Benelux and Scandinavia. Photo booth markets in other countries, such as Australia, are steadily growing. In Europe and Japan, photo booths are mainly to be found in places of high footfall such as railway stations, shopping centres and supermarkets, as their main use is for passports, driving licences, and other forms of identification. In the United States, photo booths are mainly used for entertainment, and as a result the US is a very small market for photo booth operators when compared to western Europe and eastern Asia. Indeed, there are three or four times as many photo booths in the UK alone than there are in the whole of America where they are typically installed indoors in places for entertainment, such as video arcades and amusement parks. In some US cities, photo booths may also be found in train stations and other transportation hubs, as a means of obtaining a photograph needed for inclusion in a transit pass.
The patent for the first automated photography machine was filed in 1888 by William Pope and Edward Poole of Baltimore. It probably was never built. The first known really working photographic machine was a product of the French inventor T. E. Enjalbert (March 1889). It was shown at the World Fair in Paris in 1889. The German born photographer Mathew Steffens from Chicago filed a patent for such a machine in May 1889. These early machines were not reliable enough to be self-sufficient. The first commercially successful automatic photographic apparatus was the "Bosco“ from the Inventor Conrad Bernitt of Hamburg (Patented July-16-1890). All these early machines produced ferrotypes. The first photographic automate with negative and positive process was invented by the German Carl Sasse (1896).
The modern concept of photo booth with (later) a curtain originated with Anatol Josepho (previously Josephewitz), who had arrived in the U.S. from Russia in 1923. with the first photo booth appearing 1925 on Broadway in New York City. For 25 cents, the booth took, developed and printed 8 photos, a process taking roughly ten minutes. In the first six months after the booth was erected, it was used by 280,000 people. The Photomaton Company was created to place booths nationwide. On March 27, 1927, Josepho was paid $1,000,000 and guaranteed future royalties for his invention.
Photo sticker booths
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Photo sticker booths or photo sticker machines are a special type of photo booth that produce photo stickers. Still maintaining huge popularity in Japan they have spread throughout Asia to Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, China, Vietnam, and Thailand. They have also been imported to Australia. Some have also begun appearing in the United States and Canada although they failed to make any impression in Europe when introduced in the mid 1990s.
After money has been inserted in the machine, multiple customers can enter the booth and pose for a set number of exposures. Some common options include the ability to alter lighting and backdrops while the newest versions offer features such as cameras from a variety of angles, fans, seats, and blue screen effects. Some establishments even offer costumes and wigs for customers to borrow.
Once the pictures have been taken, the customers select the pictures that they wish to keep and customize them using a touch screen or pen-sensitive screen. The touch screen then displays a vast array of options such as virtual stamps, pictures, clip art, colorful backdrops, borders, and pens that can be superimposed on the photographs. Features that can be found in some sticker machines are customizing the beauty of the customers such as brightening the pictures, making the eyes sparkle more, changing the hair, bringing a more reddish color to the lips, and fixing any blemishes by having them blurred. Other features include cutting out the original background and replacing it with a different background. Certain backgrounds may be chosen so when the machine prints out the picture, the final sticker will be shiny with sparkles.
Finally, the number and size of the pictures to be printed are chosen, and the pictures print out on a glossy full-color 10 X 15 cm sheet to be cut up and divided among the group of customers. Some photo booths also allow the pictures to be sent to customers' mobile phones. Other photo places have a scanner and laptop at the cashiers desk for customers to scan and copy their original picture before they cut and divide the pictures amongst their group.
Photo sticker booths are particularly popular among young people as an inexpensive form of recreation. The pictures can be kept as souvenirs or traded with friends.
In Japan, purikura (プリクラ?) refers to a photo sticker booth or the product of such a photo booth. The name is a shortened form of the registered trademark Purinto Kurabu (プリント倶楽部?). The term derives from the English print club. Jointly developed by Atlus and Sega, the first purikura machines were sold in July 1995.
Photo booth rental
Photo booth rental companies allow a person to rent a photo booth for a short period of time (usually in hours) for a fee. Photo booth rentals have become popular in the United States primarily for wedding receptions, sweet sixteen parties, Bar and Bat Mitzvah parties, along with a growing number of other public and private events. In addition to the photo booth and the printing of unlimited photo strips, rental companies usually include a photo booth attendant to service the photo booth and to help guests construct the guest book of photo strips. Online image hosting, compact disks containing the images and related merchandise are readily available. In 2008, Google started tracking "photo booth rental" as a trend.
- Photo-Me International, a photo booth operator
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