Hey Look, A Photo Booth! This is Private… Right?

9 Dec
Dec 08 2011 21:12PM 7.453 cc94094a,

Me and the Mrs. having fun in the photo booth. Good clean fun.

So I was at this fundraiser last night, which was a huge affair and likely a roaring success. I’m very proud of our community for coming out to have a fun time while supporting a good cause and enjoying the downtown nightlife. There happened to be this photo booth setup with props and instant prints — you get behind a curtain, take 4 digital photos in 10 seconds, and get a printout instantly. It was even free! (Or, included in the price of the event ticket). Totally fun.

And hey, you can even go online to view them the next day. The guy handing my prints told me so, and there’s a website on the back. Easy-breezy! Cool!

I hope he told everyone else this, because everyone else’s photos are there as well. What looks to be every… single… photo. My guess is that these have been screened for gang signs, product placement and, um… body parts, but I wonder if everyone realized their snapshots would be available for the world to see the next day?

Congratulations, You’re Famous!

If there was a sign stating these would be online, complete with social sharing buttons on every pic’s page, I didn’t see one. Not that I’d ever do anything at a public event that I wouldn’t want, you know… public, but being behind a curtain in a booth implies an idea of privacy, especially when you walk away with the prints in your hand. That is no longer so in our technoconnected world, and to assume otherwise is naive.

Click for full size (new window)

Say, there's no way someone's gonna post this on a blog, right?

I’m even writing this post from the photo’s page, since it offered the option to share via WordPress (along with Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Posterous). I later came to WordPress.com to add photos and links. Man, WordPress rocks.

Don’t get me wrong — I think the modern photo booth is a fantastic idea and I hope the venture and this local franchisee makes a million bucks. What with the rise of vintage effects and retro cameras now supercharged with the speed, portability and low cost of digital photography, I think it’s wonderful to bring back an “old-timey” experience, and especially to make sharing easy. But I gotta wonder if — and do hope — everyone else pictured is cool with that.

What do you think? Have you ever been in a “for-real” photo booth that uses film? Or have you ever done one like this with digital prints and social media capability? Does this raise privacy issues, or should we all assume we’re free game? Tell us in the comments!

9 Responses to “Hey Look, A Photo Booth! This is Private… Right?”

  1. Lisa December 13, 2011 at 9:34 am #

    I love the old fashioned booths, but I’m guessing that upkeep (chemical supplies, restocking film) is getting more scarce. I think with the digital age, we are only looking ahead at the retro look rather than the ‘real’ thing. It’s all part of the evolution of photography though, so I’ll just get used to it!

    • rsmithing December 13, 2011 at 10:11 am #

      Yeah, I’d bet replacement parts are going to be ever more hard to come by for these beasts, but at least the concept seems to be enjoying a resurgence. 🙂

  2. Photobooth Journal December 13, 2011 at 12:50 am #

    A fabulous concept and one I’ve never come across before. Seems like the organisers lost a great opportunity to make extra cash for the charity though. I bet the money they raise from the website doesn’t go to the fundraiser.

    I do think everyone should have been told these were available online – for goodness sake I can even buy the pictures and I am in Australia. I am tempted to buy one of your set to add to my collection, presuming it is you in the photos above. Have to see what they charge for postage first!

    I’d be interested to know if they DID censor any of the photos, by the way.

    As you already know, I have spent a lot of time in traditional photobooths and they are by far my favourites. As they less readily accommodate groups of people, old booths are more of a solitary experience and thus more like a confessional, where one possibly admits to aspects of one’s personality that is not often exhibited elsewhere. I think the way people mug for the camera in group situations is very different to what one does when alone.

    I’ve no time to explore your site further, today, sorry, but please let me know where you live in the states and I will send you the address for your nearest chemical photo booth!



    PS I hope you are a cat wrangler not a cat rustler. I imagine many poor little old ladies and tiny children in your neighbourhood forever mourning the loss of their kitties that disappeared in the night.

    • rsmithing December 13, 2011 at 10:31 am #

      Hi, Katherine — thank you so much for sharing your insight here! I’m glad to have turned you on to the digital photo booth for charity concept! You bring up a good point about perhaps not maximizing the fundraising, but at least it added to the merriment of the affair and will hopefully result in more repeat visitors and business for all involved.

      And yes, that is indeed me in the photos — please feel free to to acquire as you wish. The hi-resolution version of the image is actually available for free downloading at the photo booth’s site — just click “O” next to “Sizes” up top on their page. I’m grateful they made the actual hi-res pics available (which again may be either missed opportunity, or simply donating for the cause).

      And so far I’ve only rustled two cats, one from The Humane Society, along with one from a rescue organization (both official transactions more than rustling, really), though they do require a fair amount of wrangling. I might need to update that… 😉

  3. Michael Cargill December 12, 2011 at 9:20 am #

    Was there anything on the invitation about this photo booth?

    • rsmithing December 12, 2011 at 11:47 am #

      Nope, though I only got an email invitation. It actually added to the fun of the evening, “discovering” the booth there like, “Oh wow, a photo booth – what a surprise!” And again let me stress: I’m totally in favor of the concept and really think it added to the whole affair. But I think I see your point – a mention on the invite with a link to the site and words to the effect of “See everyone’s pics online!” would be all it takes, right?

  4. ipdegirl December 11, 2011 at 10:08 am #

    Fun article and crazy that you could write it from the photobooth’s website. Like everything else that’s digitized, it’s fun to be able to share pictures instantly but, there’s something about the nostalgia and privacy of the old-fashioned kind that’s missing. Still, I love the new trend of photobooths at events. Thanks for posting!

    • rsmithing December 11, 2011 at 9:27 pm #

      I think the nostalgia is there, but yes, the privacy not as much. Sure, it’s naive to assume there’s any privacy given our digital world, but I also think it’s naive to assume that everyone understands this. Anyway, it’s still fun, and I hope to see more of these now that technology has brought back the concept. Thank you for stopping by!


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