Photobooth History – Deep Dive into Sydney’s Photobooth Evolution & Timeline

Photography booth22

Photobooth hires have become an almost staple entertainment feature at Australian mile stone events, from Perth to Sydney, photobooths have evolved and now to be found at birthdays, school formals, engagements, corporate parties, as well as christenings and weddings. Before that, the classic closed photobooth was also an iconic part of public Sydney life, appearing as semi permanent fixtures at shopping centers, tourist attractions, leisure centers and theme parks. In this article, we’ll cover the history of the photobooth more broadly, then deep dive into the history of the photobooth in Australia, followed by another look at the Sydney Photobooth Hire Industry.

The History of the Photobooth.

With its origins in 1923, Anatol Josepho, a Russian immigrant, from a family of jewelers, arrived in New York city. With a love of photography going back to his childhood, Anatol worked tirelessly to find a way to take an existing idea, and make it profitable. With some early prototypes created in the late 19th century by William Pope, Edward Poole, T.E Enjalbert, Mathew Steffens & Carl Sasse, none where able to make a reliable, entirely self-sufficient machine, that could generate income without an operator present.

Anatol, through trial and error over the next 2 years, invented the first self sufficient photobooth, which appeared in Broad Way. Charging just 25 cents a photo, the Photobooth had evolved to a coin operated model, and attracted hundreds of thousands of enthusiasts. In 1927, Anatol’s invention was purchased by the Photomaton Company, paid 1 million US dollars, and guaranteed a wealthy future in lucrative royalties.

History of the Photobooth Australia.

By the late 1920s, the British millionaire, Clarence Haty, owner of Photomaton corporation, had expanded his photobooth empire from the UK to Australia. Manufactured in the UK, the first wave of imported photobooths began popping up in major Australian cities, starting with Melbourne in August 1929, and October 1929 in Perth. By the early 1930s, a number of coin operated photobooths popped up in all major Australian cities, as well as major towns and tourist-oriented areas. It was very common to see photobooths across Sydney at the cinemas (George Street Theatre 1929), annual town events (such as the Royal Easter Show, 1931) & iconic places (such as Luna Park, 1935).

While the depression took its toll on surplus incomes and spending money, the photobooth began to slowly recede from every day life, appearing in only a select number of locations across Australia. This trend continued until after the war period, where the closed, coin operated photobooth began reappearing more frequently by the late 1940s and onwards.

Photobooth Hire Sydney – A quick history.

While the coin operated enclosed photobooths where common throughout Australian public spaces and venues across Sydney, privately hired photobooths began to make their appearance only in the 1970s, thanks to the invention of the common polaroid. Now Sydney based photobooth businesses could take advantage of their smaller size, and be packed away into a van or small truck, ready to transport to fun events across the harbor city. Provided your Sydney photobooth provider had enough film & batteries, this photobooth evolution meant they could potentially be setup almost anywhere. While this was an innovation in polaroid technology, Sydney photobooth businesses where few and far between, due to limited demand and unfortunately high operating costs at the time.

Fast forward to the 1990s, the history of the more modern type of photobooth hire in Sydney came to life. A small Greek-Australian photography and videography business called Olympic Moments, imported from SEGA corporation in Japan, the Purikura photobooth, the first of its kind in Australia. Boasting a computer operated system, small compact ‘sticky’ printer, it produced full color prints in just 90 seconds & could fit into an every day station wagon, or even a hatchback (provided you had the seats down).

Many Sydney based photobooth hire businesses began to pop up, taking advantage of the rising internet and digital marketing trends of the late 90s and early 2000s. Photobooths began to more commonly come as ‘open booths’, an evolution that continued into the early 2000s, where we saw the introduction of innovative photobooth software, that brought Green Screen elements, virtual props, email sharing, & short videos. By the late 2000s, software evolved to distribute GIFs & Social Media sharing.

Today, over 1,300 photobooth hire businesses operate Australia, with almost 1/3rd of photobooth businesses based in Sydney, making Sydney the Photobooth Hire capital of Australia.