The Human Element of a Photo Booth

Photo strip Lauren

Getting your picture taken in a photo booth is unique from getting your photo taken anywhere else. Take a closer look at the photo strip you have that was printed in a photo booth long ago and something that’s there (and something that isn’t there) might become apparent to you.

Regular photos have a context, a lot of background information. By looking at a photograph you might be able to divine where it was taken, why it was taken, the event that precipitated the need for a photograph, among a myriad of other things. The phrase “a picture is worth 1,000 words” isn’t just a cliché (though it may be overused). There’s a lot of information to be gleaned from photographs, and depending on who’s doing the writing, it could be worth much more than 1,000 words.

A photo from a photo booth lacks the context found in traditional photos. There’s no background information, no context clues save clothing and the body language of the subjects. But what a photo booth lacks, it replaces with the emphasis of a different element. Without other distractions in the background, the eye of the viewer is drawn to the subjects. Their features become more apparent, their facial expressions more telling. With the curtains drawn and the outside world shut out we’re let in on a private moment; the nature of the relationship between the subjects is brought to the surface. The emphasis is on intimacy, the human element. You can document these ineffable details, but thousands of words wouldn’t pen them down. The only eye discerning enough to capture them is the eye of the camera in the booth, and the human eye as it takes in the ink and paper on a photo strip.