Berlin It Up: Fotoautomaten

Some say that you are not a real Berliner Hipster until you have taken a picture in one of the Fotoautomaten (photo machines) of the city. Others think that being a real hipster entails much more. Be that as it may, stopping in a photo booth to have a black and white picture taken is […]

curso-eg-ctr-reisejournalismus-erfahrungen-berlin-edinburghSome say that you are not a real Berliner Hipster until you have taken a picture in one of the Fotoautomaten (photo machines) of the city. Others think that being a real hipster entails much more. Be that as it may, stopping in a photo booth to have a black and white picture taken is a must for all those visiting Berlin. These machines, placed around metro and train stations, have always been an important part of the city. They welcome not only locals and tourists looking for a funny souvenir, but also people wishing to get a picture for their passport.

Russian Anatol Josepho designed the first photo booth with curtain and background screen. This format of the photo booth won him immediate fame and remains the design to this day. But it was the German inventor Conrad Bernitt who built the first fotoautomat in Germany, located in Hamburg. Since then, we have seen great developments in the world of photography. However, the old fotoautomaten have survived the test of time. Furthermore, they have made a huge comeback in the last few years. After being replaced for modern machines, the old ones have returned from the hand of a group of young hipsters and their project Photoautomat.de. They have recovered the taste of yesteryear, the four mythical shots and the vertical photo strip. To do so, they have restored antique analog photo booths from all over the world, like Portugal, Sweden and Spain, and have placed them in crowded areas. Berlin hipsters, obsessed with vintage fashion, old cameras and the fact that modernity does not define them, have made these photo booths a symbol of the city. For only 2€, you can take home a strip of four photos. There are 21 photo machines in the city and those interested will find a map with all their locations in photoautomat.de. In the same website you will find curious news, projects by young artists, a gallery with photo strips that people have sent and photo booths to rent.

If you want to feel like a real hipster or simply have a souvenir from Berlin, grab a pair of sunglasses, signs or just go empty handed and be ready to strike your best poses. And remember, you only have 10 seconds to get ready once you have put the coins in, so plan in advance. Be aware that images are inversed and that it takes between five to ten minutes for thephotos to reveal so be patient. 1, 2, 3… SNAP!

by Berta Caragol Pugés
at Curso / Citytravelreview 2014
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