|In 1925 the Siberian immigrant Anatol Josepho had an idea for a small curtain-enclosed booth where people could take affordable portraits anonymously and automatically. The photobooth was born. Within 20 years there were more than 30,000 in the United States alone, an explosive growth due largely to World War II, as soldiers and loved ones exchanged photos, hoping to cling to memories or moments in a world turned upside down. But by the 1960s the advent of Polaroid photography spelled the doom of the "four strip" that had become a fixture at arcades and drugstores everywhere.
The recent resurgence of photo sticker machines has recaptured the fun and intimacy of the photobooth. With no photographer to please, people are at liberty to be whoever they like: brave or sexy, cocksure or wise, without fear of censure or ridicule. Free in the certainty of their solitude, families, couples young and old, best friends, and individual after individual have presented to the camera both real and imagined selves for three-quarters of a century.
Photobooth presents over 700 such photographs from the last 75 years, images at turns spontaneous and uninhibited, often goofy, and occasionally touching. It is a fascinating portrait of everyday people and a testament to the ongoing fascination with both the process and the result.