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Brighton gets a photobooth emporium

15 March 2016 One Comment

A popular draw at retro venues and events, the retro photobooth is taking the the spotlight with its own premises in the heart of Brighton’s North Laine. Photomatic at 22 Gardner Street promises “spontaneous studio quality hijinx with an array of masks, backdrops and daft props”. Here founder Eddie Hepburne Scott makes the case for drawing the curtain on smartphone selfies…

Photomatic photobooths Brighton

I’ve always been enamoured by the immediacy and artistic possibilities of the photobooth and started making my own in 2012 for London’s Camden Market, All Star Lanes in Manchester and Brighton’s Snoopers’ Paradise. Previously I photographed the likes of Primal Scream and Spiritualized for Arena, The Face and i-D.

People have enjoyed photobooths as far back as the late 1800s, but in the 1990s the fun was lost when ID booths started offering one repeated image rather than four poses. Brighton is oozing with fun and creativity and people looking for a memory of their time here and the booths cater for all of those things.

Photomatic photobooths Brighton

We’re installing a throttle-powered wind machine into one photobooth and a bubble machine into another and will also be adding new backdrops – the colour booth is set to have a hand-painted cherry blossom canvas as the background for Spring.

Smartphones are great for capturing some things as they live in your pocket, but they almost never capture the decisive moment when photographing people. There is often a delay between pressing the shutter and the picture being taken so it’s easy to miss the action. Phone cameras are better than ever but they still don’t compare to the picture quality of professional studio equipment.

In a booth you get real spontaneity. Friends pile in together and the giggles set in and there’s a fun element of chance to the resulting images. The photobooth is a private environment with the curtain closed so subjects act in a completely different way to how they would when doing a selfie in public – especially if one is wearing a unicorn head and one a false beard!

Photomatic photobooths Brighton

Soon we’ll be running a monthly competition inviting customers to share their favourite images taken in the booths. The monthly winner will get an A1 poster print of their images we’ll be offering runners-up prizes too. For tips they could look at a book we have in the shop that presents years of fantastic Photobooth art.

People like to experiment with different effects and we associate different types of photography with certain eras. Victorians mostly looked stern but only because they had to remain very still for the long exposures. Teenagers into the ‘90s fashion revival now might also be interested in the aesthetic of the ‘90s analogue camera.

Someone once proposed in one of our booths. It was a total surprise to the girl, who came out in tears; her reaction captured forever. It was a “yes” which was a relief!

Photomatic photobooths Brighton

We’re currently showing the work of Ewen Spencer in the shop, who I studied photography with at Brighton University. He’s a real hard-working documentary photographer concentrating on youth culture and has published a few books. We’ll also be stocking a beautiful book called The Meteorite Hunter by another Brighton graduate – Alexandra Lethbridge.

Vintage photographers I look to for inspiration include Dianne Arbus, Joel Sternfeld and William Eggleston. I also like Tom Wood’s 1980s work although I’m not sure if he qualifies as vintage just yet – he’s still going strong!

A session in a Photomatic booth costs £4 for 4 poses and a 6×4 print, with enlargements up to A1 for £45. The space is also available for private hire – email info@photomatic.company.

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One Comment »

  • John said:

    Isn’t it ‘enamoured with’?

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