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Judges Choice

Photo Booths - The Evergreen Entertainer

At the tender age of 28 as I sit and type, I am no old man but I’m also no spring chicken either. In my lifetime I don’t remember a time where I didn’t know what a photo booth was.

In fact, when the first photo booth was invented; the ‘Photomaton’ in 1926 Broadway, it was a tool for entertainment. People queued around the block to pay their 25c to wait 8 minutes for their photo to be developed and handed to them. Fast forward 5 decades, the developing times were quicker, and photo booths could be found in cinemas, shopping centres and arcades, with no other purpose than good old fashioned fun… in the UK the emergence was a little slower, but none the less it happened.

It wasn’t until the introduction of digital photography that the portable photo booth became an affordable and feasible business idea for the mass market. Before this leap forward in technology, you needed a lot of money, a lot of specialist technology, a deep understanding of the science behind what created a photograph, premises to put your photo booth and a keen eye for photography.

Once there was the option to take a photo without processing film, the photo booth world boomed. Technology was affordable, light and user friendly. Not only this, the advances in engineering made materials that were strong enough to support a structure to hold the relevant equipment, but also light enough to be portable. It was here that the idea of ‘event hire’ started.

Sure, when I was growing up in the hustle and bustle of sleepy Devon, they were still predominantly a tool used to take a passport photo, though that didn’t stop myself and friends cramming as many of us in on a Saturday afternoon in town, while a nice old lady waited patiently to have her passport photo taken. Even at this young age I could see the emergence of the photo booth as a tool for entertainment, not just function.

I didn’t get in to the business until 2014 and my mind was blown with the quality of products that were already on the market. Now, 2014 wasn’t long ago, but in this small timescale the products available have changed no end. The technology is moving at such a rate that Chris (my business partner in SWPB) and I seem to send each other messages every day, saying ‘wow look at this’ or ‘we have to try this’.

There seems to be a photo booth to suit every person and every event. The thing is that even the earliest photo booths still have a place in the market. There are people that will wait for a genuine printed image, likewise there are people that will be amazed by an augmented reality photo booth experience and will find the capital to have it at their event.

I guess what I’m saying is that as a 28 year old with a partner I’d one day like to marry, and as a business owner who certainly enjoys a staff do, I am our target market. If I ask myself would you have a photo booth for your event? The answer is yes. My problem is, I wouldn’t know which one - as soon as I think I have seen the best photo booth on the market, a new one is released offering a brand new experience.

It is for this reason, we have such a rich and awe inspiring array of photo booths entering an already very busy market, I for one welcome them. As we fast approach a centenary of photo boothing, it doesn't look like the interest is fading.

I can’t wait to see what our photo booth fleet looks like in 10 years’ time. One thing is for sure, the classic Oval booth will still be out every weekend.  

Ben Westcott

South West Photo Booths