Dinosaurs of the Internet Age: FotoFix

Early on during our stay, we were getting ready to buy monthly transit passes for the girls (yes, the second one at a reduced sibling rate!). That would require a student id, even for elementary school. That id in turn requires a passport photo.

When everyone (else) is taking selfies and carrying their cell phones everywhere, where do you get passport photos taken?

Back in the pre-mobile dinosaur age, there were machines, Fotoautomaten, at all the major transit stations.

At some point we discovered in the mid-1980s that Friedrichstr had a particularly attractive option. Friedrichstr. was a stop in East Berlin, of course, but on the subway’s Line 6 (that leads out to my parents’ house). Always a spooky ride because of the other East Berlin stops where the train wouldn’t stop and the platform was guarded by soldiers. Friedrichstr. was also the only border crossing where Berliners could cross together with foreigners.

So, the photo booth there turned out to be attractive for its state socialist Instagram technology as the photos were printed out with a built-in sepia filter making our student ids look like there were from the 1920s.

Chinggis Khaan might have invented the internet, but East German state socialism invented Instagram.


Back to our contemporary challenge…

Sure enough, on our way into town, we spotted a photo booth at a transfer station and the girls were thrilled to take their photo in it. The most exciting part is the stool that you turn clockwise to lower it, anti-clockwise to raise it. Then, there’s the voice that counts down to “three”. All very exciting.

And, as I’ve noticed since then, photo booths are still a thing. They are all over Berlin!


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