As a teenager, I collected dozens of photo booth pictures of me and my friends. After pulling a series of silly faces (tongues out, finger glasses, devil horns – all the classics), we would wait breathlessly for them to develop. Then along came the single-photo kiosk that issued four identical images and ruined everyone's fun.
But the retro-style photo booth is back in a big way. Standalone cubicles are popping up on streets and in bars in London and beyond. They're also fast becoming a fixture at parties and weddings. "There's been a huge rise in demand," says Seamus Ryan, founder of Boothnation, a photo booth rental company that counts Chanel and Calvin Klein among its clients. "It's spread so much that there is virtually a new photo booth company set up every week."
Next Saturday sees the world's first photo booth festival, being held off Columbia Road in east London. For £10 you can have unlimited use of more than eight bespoke photo booths including the Warhol-esque Pop Art booth, disco booth and 3D booth.
Now, of course, most have gone digital so there's no longer any danger of smudging your dewy snaps. The agonising wait for them to develop is over too. "The whole process is a lot quicker so you can have your prints in 20 seconds as opposed to five minutes", says Ryan.
Photo booths have been capturing stolen kisses and drunken flashes since 1925. What's their enduring appeal? "Because there's a curtain and no photographer, you lose your inhibitions. You can be yourself and therefore the pictures that come out are unique," says Ryan. "What's nice is that it has the same effect on every social class, no matter how wealthy or humble they are. Everyone has the same silly response to a photo booth."