Photo Booths – A Berlin Must

By Marriette Rough

Go into any Berlin apartment, be the occupant punk, priest or party-goer it is highly likely you will find a black and white vintage looking photo strip from one of Berlins many Photo-booths. Or as they are known in Germany – Fotoautomat.

In the dawn of digital photography these retro prints have become quite the institution. Certainly a lot more romantic than a memory card. Berlin now boasts 17, not counting the private ones popping up in hip start-ups around the city. Soundcloud, the music platform, have offices in Berlin and they have bagged themselves a genuine old school photo booth for their employees to play around with. There is a map here at photoautomat.de so you can safely know, at any moment, how many metres away from photo-boothing fun you are. If you fancy a little adventure, print off the map and go hunting for them. A pretty sweet way to explore the city.

The Photo-booth as we know it was invented in 1925 by a young Russian immigrant named Anatol Josepho in New York. He produced a working prototype and presented it on Broadway. Back then it was called the Photomaton and cost 25 cents for a strip of 8 photos. White gloved attendants stood next to the machine during working hours, not just for maintenance of the machine but also for crowd control. As you can imagine it was quite the success. A few years later in 1927 Josepho sold the rights to an investment group for cool $1,000,000.

The rise of the old-fashioned black and white photo booths in Berlin has been down to two Berliners called Ole Kretschmann and Asger Doenst. In 2003 they came up with the idea of buying and restoring old analogue photo booths. Over the past decade the pair have renovated around 20 photo-booths, installing them all around Europe including in Florence and Vienna. Berlin’s first photo booth was placed in the city centre, at an intersection called Rosenthaler Platz. The guys were really not prepared for the popularity that would ensue.

Grab your mates and a huge bag of €2 coins and let the fun commence! Perhaps even a throw in a few photographic props: confetti, Prussian helmet, paper and pen etc. Sick of sending tired old postcards to your loved ones back home, pop a coin in, print off some photos and then post it to them! Guaranteed to make you the hippest traveler there ever was!

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A family by the eiffel tower.