It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since we officially launched Photobooth.net, but the calendar doesn’t lie. It’s been an enjoyable and interesting five years, and today we’ll take a look back and see what has happened since we began.
About three months prior to the launch of the blog, in January, 2005, Tim contacted me, introduced himself, and asked about collaborating on a photobooth website, having seen a small collection of photobooth locations I had posted on my own site beginning in 2003. By the next month, we were up and running, collecting and presenting photobooth locations around the world, listing the films and TV shows that featured photobooths, and starting a catalog of artists, projects, and articles centered on photochemical photobooths.
As of February 2005, when we began putting the website together and the pre-cursor to the site was still on my old personal page, here’s what we had:
Take a look through those sections to see how we’ve grown over the years; counting booths that have come and gone since we listed them, we now have more than 350 photobooth locations listed, in a dozen countries around the world.
While the site had its origins in my attempt to visit every photobooth I could, our growth is due in large part to the generous contributions of photobooth fans around the world who have tipped us off, clued us in, and emailed photographs, scans, and information about booths we wouldn’t otherwise get to.
The same is true with the movies and TV shows we list; we now have more 100 movies listed and nearly as many TV shows, with more popping up every month.
Over the years, we’ve documented the two International Photobooth Conventions that have happened in the U.S. since we began, in 2005 in St Louis and 2009 in Chicago. In addition to being great events, these were opportunities to meet photobooth enthusiasts from around the world who have since become friends, including Anthony, Mixup, Danny, Nakki, Siobhan, Carole, Connie, Dina, and others.
The site has also been a way to communicate and collaborate with people we haven’t yet had the pleasure of meeting, but hope to one day, including Klaas, Martin, Ira, Marco, Ole, Meags, and Igor.
Looking back, it’s as though we created the site in the knowledge that everything was about to change. I don’t think that’s true, but the photobooth world was a different place in 2005. Photochemical booths could still be found at amusement parks around the country, they weren’t as ubiquitous in bars as they are today, and digital photobooths weren’t a wedding and party juggernaut like they are now.
And for a site that culls most of its information from the internet, it’s tough to overstate the effect that Apple’s “Photo Booth” application has had on the online world of photobooths over the last five years. The program, which was introduced in October of 2005, has now polluted every corner of the web, from Google Alerts, which are now only rarely reference actual photobooths, to the Flickr feed for photos tagged “photobooth.” The feed used to be a great source of information on new photobooth locations, as well as interesting vintage photobooth photos. For the last few years, though, it has become a dumping ground for kids to put up photos from the Apple Store, and a free way for digital photobooth companies to distribute their photos.
The last five years have brought a host of positive changes, as well. When we began our site, the last photochemical booths were being replaced with digital machines all across Europe. From the UK to Switzerland, Italy to Germany, the photochemical photobooth was a thing of the past. But slowly, bit by bit, in Berlin and Hamburg, Paris and London, Zurich and Moscow, we’ve watched the booths return. While the machines seem to be disappearing at an alarming rate in the United States, we’re heartened to see the great work done by the entrepreneurs, artists, and technicians (sometimes all the same person) to keep the booth alive in Europe.
Since the site began, we’ve added a section on Music and revamped our location listings to make them easier to navigate. You may also have noticed that our discussion board, once a thriving place to ask questions and share ideas (and then a cesspool of spam comments), is no longer active. We are in the process of restarting the board, and hope to have it up again soon, alongside a new section on the history of the booth, an improved gallery to share your photostrips, and a place to share technical manuals and instructions for operating and repairing photobooths.
We’re grateful to everyone who has contributed to the site over the last five years, as well as to those who have written in simply to tell us how much they’ve enjoyed it or found it useful. Thanks for reading, contributing, and helping keep the photobooth alive!