Throughout my childhood, my scrapbooks were filled with the black and white strip photos from a chemical photo booth. I still have the images from when I was a young teenager, where my girlfriend and I encased ourselves behind the small draw curtain at the seaside amusement park; remaining enclosed in our booth long after the photos had developed. As I got older, the photo booths started being replaced by digital versions that seemed to zap your soul when the flash burst. In Berlin, however, the chemical photobooth has made a resurgence, with over two dozen booths across the city. Their charm reinstated into the social fabric of the energetic youth of Berlin; a fixture of a night out linked inexplicable with friends and fun times.
I decided to embark on a mission to find all of the photobooths across Berlin, and in doing so, it became my guide to the coolest parts of the capital. While there are one or two machines located in central Mitte, or the affluent Charlottenburg, the majority of them lie in the areas filled with nightlife, clubs and cafes such as Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, Neukölln or Prenzlauer Berg. It makes sense too; the booths gravitate to areas where people get together and a photobooth is an essential part of the night.
Berlin Photoautomat List
On nights out, you cram your friends into a booth for a quick snap. Never more than four though, not foremost for the fact it is extremely difficult to fit more than four into the booth but moreover that there are only four photos, you need to divide them evenly amongst your friends. That being said, there is inevitably always one where you never made it to your next funny face and someone's head covers the entire image, or you are all looking the wrong way. These frazzled shots are still a joy though, the fact you get four images, like them or not. You cannot hit refresh or photoshop them to perfection. They are as they are, and this is their beauty.
I really enjoyed taking these images and felt the series as a whole came together quite well. On the technical side of things, I deliberately developed a very distinct style when shooting the photo booths. I was drawn to their bright colours and melancholic nostalgia and wanted to exploit the feeling they conjured in me. I almost exclusively used my AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED lens. I preferred twilight and kept the saturation and contrast very high. At times I would add a blurred passing person, or bicycle to add human elements to the otherwise lonely images. What do you think, would you have shot them differently?
Below is a comprehensive list of the photo booths I could find. There were a couple more that I found inside clubs, but I left them off this list. All of the booths are black and white, except Warschauer Straßer 47 which has the only colour booth in Berlin. You can load up the map into your google maps on your phone, otherwise, why not take a photography tour of Berlin with Aperture Tours and be guided through the city with a Professional Photographer.
Author: Alexander J.E. Bradley
Alexander is the founder of Aperture Tours: professional photography guided tours designed to help you get the best out of your camera whilst exploring wonderful cities with a local. A professional photographer for over a decade Alexander enjoys shooting the surreal by mixing dreamlike qualities into his conceptual images.