06/17/2013 09:37 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Say Cheese! #Selfies as the New Marketing Campaign

Some 27,800 photographs are uploaded to Instagram each minute, according to Pop Photo. That sounds like a lot, until you realize that 208,300 photos are being uploaded to Facebook every minute -- almost 300 million a day and they claim more than 7 billion per month.

That may seem common place, but if you look back in history, only a few million photos were taken in the whole world in the entire nineteenth century. Cameras were expensive and comparatively rare, picture-taking required a significant investment of time and money. After the Kodak Brownie, the first camera to be marketed to regular consumers, was introduced in 1900, the number of photographs went up steadily, reaching one billion per year by 1930. By 1960, that number had tripled; by 1980, it was up to 25 billion per year.

Today we take more than 380 billion pictures a year. To put that another way, more pictures are taken every two minutes than were taken in all of the 19th century.

Joseph Nicéphore Niépce took the first camera obscura picture in 1819; it took him eight hours to get the exposure and it had to be developed immediately, as it quickly began to fade. Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre took the first Daguerreotype in 1837 in a comparatively faster half an hour. By 1851, the Collodion process allowed pictures to be taken in a matter of seconds, but it wasn't until 1884 that Eastman perfected paper film. The Polaroid hit the market in 1963, which gave shutterbugs the instant gratification of having color prints within minutes, but the quality was poor.

Digital picture-taking and processing came to the fore by the mid-1990s, but it wasn't until the rise of the Internet that printing became optional and film obsolete. With smartphones, people can snap a #Selfie and share it with their network of friends or followers in an instant; even the Clintons are engaging in the trend.

Or they can do something more elaborate. With Facebook, Instagram, PicMonkey, Twitpic, TumblrPic and Pic Stitch everyone can be their own photographer, artistic director, and graphic designer, choosing the desired filter and crop, adding text, icons, and Emojicons. Everyone is curating their own content and photo booths are popping up everywhere.


"Fully automated and mobile, Photostar shoots, prints and uploads editorial quality photos all in real time." No photographer needed. They claim they use the same equipment, "to shoot the covers of Vogue and Vanity Fair."

But the trend goes way beyond vanity; sales and marketing teams are taking full advantage of the possibilities as well. Charity events now have photo booths where you can pose for a shot which will be uploaded and shared on social media, spreading the word about their cause.


Photo Caption: Shinan Govani, Verity Curtis, and Nicholas Mellamphy at a charity event for Luminato

Guests at the creative members only club Soho House can snap and share pictures at photobooths at its Berlin, Miami Beach, New York, London and West Hollywood locations, marketing its brand to their universe of friends for free.


Photo booth at the Soho House, Miami Beach

Recently the trendy eyeware designer Warby Parker invested in a photobooth for its popup store in Soho. "These are the retail stores of the future," writes Lauren Indvik. "Hyper-efficient, digitally enhanced showrooms that serve as physical storefronts for online retail operations." Customers snap shots of themselves in their new frames and share them with their friends and the world, spreading brand recognition for no work, no production budget, no photographer, no designer, no art director and no media buy.


Flickr photo Warby Parker

Creative organizations have caught on. Say cheese!


Me and Kim Newport-Mimran use a photo booth at a Viktor & Rolf exhibit at the ROM.