Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Kodak: The 20th century in Cameras and Advertising

With Liz and Buster
(Keaton, That Is)
by Ria Ryne

Kodaks everywhere. Big Kodaks, little Kodaks, your first Kodak, your Grandfather's first Kodak--they were all there, in spirit if not in fact, as Liz Whitaker was our tour guide on a trip down Kodak's Memory Lane. As impressive as the wide variety of cameras was, equally intriguing was the broad array of advertising materials on display.
Looking at the history of Kodak allows not only a look at the history of photography in this country, but also glimpses at fashion as well as significant events in world history. As an example of the latter, in 1892 a Kodak camera accompanied Peary to the North Pole.

The early Kodaks for the amateur photographer took advantage of George Eastman's pioneering work in developing a flexible film base, which eliminated the necessity of using cumbersome glass plates. Photography became accessible to non-photographers, to people who just wanted to take some photos on a picnic or a vacation.
Folding cameras, an even more convenient form, began appearing around 1890, the Brownie made its debut in 1900. As in indication of how popular these Kodak cameras were: around 1,750,000 Vest Pocket Autographic were sold.
The first 35mm cameras, (or as they were referred to then- "miniatures"), developed to utilize the film that was being produced for motion pictures, came on the scene in the 1930's.
The Kodak Retina series, still popular with shooters and collectors alike, was launched in 1934-35 with the original Retina (Type 117) and continued until 1960's when the Model S2 was the last of the line.
The Medalist, a photographic handful is ever there was one, the myriad 127 roll film Brownie cameras that were the first cameras for legions of budding photographers. (My first was a Brownie Starmite II, Christmas 1963. I still have it. I still shoot with it.) Who could forget the ubiquitous Instamatics? The ill-fated foray into the instant photo domain staked out by Polaroid?
So many cameras, so little time.

The presentation wound up with a film featuring Buster Keaton, the Great Stone Face himself, struggling through the ages to take a photo of his beloved, and stay out of the way of his beloved's Mother. I am sure that most in the audience could empathize with his photographic problems as well as his difficulties with his incipient mother-in-law.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kodak: The 20th century in Cameras and Advertising

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