If you were born in the ’90s, you will likely remember the iconic Neoprint photo booths that used to be found in arcades across Singapore.
I fondly remember huddling my friends in this small, claustrophobic room to pose for some terrifying shots. Then we embellish the pictures with drawings and stickers before we stick them on our notebooks and files.
Unfortunately, neoprint booths are a pretty rare sight these days – the only photo booths most of us use right now are those for passport photos.
I’ve come across the Neoprint booth overseas in places like Johor Bahru on occasion, but even then it’s still rather unusual.
Just imagine how excited I was when I heard that the indie movie theater The Projector, located in the Golden Mile Tower, has a new old school photo booth.
Granted, it’s not the same as a neoprint booth, but the idea of stepping into one to pose for pictures still got me excited.
What makes it even more special is the fact that it is currently the only analog chemical photo booth for Dip & Dunk in Singapore.
A piece of history
This photo booth in particular also has a fascinating history.
According to the Singapore photo booth that operates the stand, it was built in 1991.
The stall, which had been in storage for ten years, was previously in a Neiman Marcus store in San Diego.
With the help of a friend based in the USA, the company managed to air freight the stand to Singapore, they told us.
While they work closely with other film photographers from around the world to source the materials they need, keeping the stand up and running is no easy task as some of them are no longer in production, they explained.
How does it work? A trigger in the cabin projects light onto light-sensitive paper. The filmstrip then goes through several chemical washes inside the machine.
This means you have to wait for your photos to be developed the old fashioned way. However, this only takes four minutes, which is not as long as one might expect.
To see how this old school gem compares to the neoprint booths from our childhood, I decided to pay my partner a visit.
Be ready to line up
On arrival we found it hidden near the spiral staircase at The Projector. There was an initial panic because the machine was out of order and we thought we had made a wasted trip down. However, it was repaired quite efficiently. The booth was operational again in around 15 minutes.
It seems that the word has got around about the photo booth as quite a number of people visited The Projector to see it.
So it was not surprising that the queue was quite long and visitors were expected to line up properly at the side of the stand.
One thing to keep in mind is that the machine only accepts $ 1 coins. So prepare these in advance before you come down. It is also possible to change money in the dining area of the projector. However, this is only possible when you make a purchase.
A strip of four photos is only $ 4. Given that this is a pretty rare invention, it’s surprising that the prices remain so affordable – it’s even cheaper than the typical passport photo booth.
After waiting 10 minutes it was finally our turn. Entering the booth was like hopping into a time machine and made us feel like we had been teleported into the 90s.
Adjust the seat to the desired height before inserting your $ 1 coins into the slot in the lower right. Once the money is in, the machine comes to life and you can start posing for your photos.
Don’t be as fuzzy as we were – we didn’t notice that the lights on top of the box are an indication of when the photo will be taken, so we weren’t prepared for our first shot. Then we followed the instructions of the lights and the rest of our photos were less uncomfortable.
A disadvantage of the analog dip-and-dunk chemistry station is that you are not allowed to look at the photos before printing. Therefore, it is good to be prepared before each recording.
After we finished we had to wait for our photos to be ready, which took about four minutes. This means about three groups gathering in front of the booth at a time, waiting for their photos to pop out, which in our opinion made the process quite messy.
After taking someone else’s photos almost twice, we finally got ours. We noticed that the photo strip was slightly damp when we removed it from the machine and we suspect this is due to the chemicals used to develop the film.
We were also very pleasantly surprised with the result and definitely felt it was worth the queue and our $ 4. The images were printed in black and white and the high contrast effect made our faces look a bit contoured, giving the illusion that we have more chiseled features.
Also, unlike neoprint machines that produce glossy prints, our prints have a matte feel. This makes the photos look more professional in our opinion.
Would we do it again The answer is a unanimous yes. We personally believe that it is an excellent place for lovers and friends to create memories together. The best part is that you can take the photos home with you as a souvenir.
Unfortunately, the photo booth won’t call The Projector their permanent home. It will only be there for the next two months. After that, it will be moved to another location, so you’ll need to check out Photo Booth Singapore’s Instagram to see where it will lead next.
Address: 6001 Beach Rd, No. 05-00 Golden Mile Tower, Singapore 199589