Sunday, January 26th, 2014

photo booth film stripRemember photo booths? For a buck and a half’s worth of quarters, you could get a snot-covered film strip of photos of all the people you went out drinking with. For me, they were a lot of fun because every strip was a collection of four completely random shots taken at the most awkward moments, no matter how carefully you tried to time them. If you got even one shot that made anybody in the photo look normal, it was just dumb luck.

Also part of the fun was getting as many people into the booth as were willing to crawl on top of one another, then trying to get everyone’s face in one shot. I think the most I’ve ever seen in a single shot was five, maybe six people. Recognizable people. I’ve seen plenty of shots with five faces that were complete enough to recognize, with a nose or an eyeball peeking through a gap, leaving the rest of us to wonder, Hmmm, who was with us that night?

My brother and I used to duck into these things wherever we found them. A lot of the time we went out of our way to find them, like whenever we happened by a forgotten Kresge’s store. You could always find a photo booth somewhere in a Kresge’s or Ben Franklin, almost as if they were required by state law to maintain one somewhere on the premises. The booth was usually somewhere just inside the front door; I always imagined that was for people who had to run out to get a passport or ID photo, but in some stores that apparently didn’t give a rip it was squirreled away in the back where you’d never think of looking for it, like behind the men’s underwear or in the pet supplies.

I’ve used modern photo booths have lots of so-called improvements to them, but the only change I approve of is that the photos don’t come out of the slot covered in what seemed to be dog slobber. Just about every other so-called improvement is a real let-down, as far as I can see.

For a start, I had to stand up in the modern photo booths I used. There was no stool, and furthermore there was no back and no sides to the booth, just a curtain in back. Wrong, WRONG, WRONG! For a proper photo booth experience, it’s got to be a booth with a stool, made with the intention of snapping a photo of a single person. Otherwise, where’s the fun of trying to cram four or five people into it?

The modern booths I’ve used also had a computer screen that let me preview the shot. Again, this completely eliminates an essential element of the photo booth experience: Random, chaotic composition in your photos. A proper photo booth should have a tiny red light that blinks to let you know that it’s about to take a picture, then waits so long to actually snap the shot that you end up with a puzzled look on your face in nearly every photo.

Finally, I liked that the photos had that weird print quality, slightly out of focus and somewhere between black-and-white and sepia toned, although now that Instagram’s so popular, I imagine this has been corrected.

say cheese! | 9:47 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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