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Wednesday, 27 October 2010


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Besides the immensely beautiful picture, I'm also fascinated by the plain English one hundred years old. I'm a native Chinese speaker, and I can assure you that today, a piece of equivalent material of the same vintage written in Chinese can bring down many a modern Joe.

OT: 1910 was a time when we were still under an absolute monarchy, but what change had we had since ?

Wow, 100 years ago advertisements had substance. I guess there is some merit to the idea of "the good old days"

Incidentally, I've been using that same camera recently to teach myself the tintype process. As seen here. It's a good thing the camera comes stock with "Kodak simplicity" because the rest of the process is a bit of a bugger.

This shows my favorite thing about Kodak - while yes, they were selling film, they educated generations of folks on how to take better pictures. The manuals for my Kodak Signet has a short how-to section, in additional to the normal operating instructions, as do most Kodak manuals. And I have to say that having a digital camera for my 3.5 year old is a great teaching tool - he composes shots, and doesn't realize that the camera can zoom, so he's learning to shoot with primes!

Oh great! Spectacular! Now everybody's gonna call themselves a photographer! That's just ducky.

I wonder, was $12 really not a lot of money back then? A single picture for $2? That's about what an 8x10 print at Costco costs me and I only print those sparingly because of the expense.

My wife would cringe at this. She does not want my kids playing with my camera now.

(I did a quick check on an inflation calculator. The brownie was $1 in 1900 which works out to $25 today. My wife *would* let my kids play with a $25 camera!)

It's interesting to see how advertising from that period (in general) didn't seem to insult people's intelligence the way advertising does now.

*COUGH* Ashton Kutcher *COUGH*

Obviously this isn't true only for photography equipment advertising, but for media as a whole. The paragraphs in that Kodak ad make a beautiful statement about the importance of photography and how it ties into our family memories. Now all we get is a picture of a female tennis star holding the camera and the only text is the required legal stuff. Wait, what was I complaining about?

Kodak as a verb! What's next, an Adobe ad encouraging us to "Photoshop" our photos?

Two icons, Kodak and the Saturday Evening Post, both casualties of change.

Yeah, give children from a hundred years ago a camera and they'll just manipulate images and cause controversy...

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

This item brought back an old memory: My grandmother and her contemporaries always called any camera a "Kodak". From the ad, it seems that EK used the term to refer to their more expensive cameras (the "prosumers" of the day?), and also encouraged the word's use as verb. An early example of verbification?

David Goldenberg

Tri-X: best film ever.

Well, it wouldn't have been Tri-X in 1910. The first film called "Tri-X" (there were several) came out as sheet film at the beginning of the Second World War, and rollfilm and 35mm sizes came along in the mid-1950s.


It is a very charming photograph indeed, and even today I think that we can have little argument with the claims made about photography in the text. The style of language seems almost "literary" from a contemporary perspective, and one wonders whether the difference from it and what is seen in ads today is due to the target audience, the quality of its educational achievement, or the culture at large.

A modern touch is the use of "Kodak" as a verb, at the top of the ad, yet. I wonder whether the ad-writers at EK considered this cutting-edge at the time.

Peter: A single picture for $2?

That's the price of the camera, I believe: "a very, very good one for 2 1/4 x 3 1/4 pictures". I think that was intended to upsell the reader from the $1 Brownie to the $2 model.

I've read that the 6-exposure rolls were 15 cents when the Brownie was introduced in 1900. I think that included development, but I'm not sure and the Google is not being helpful.

Oh, I see! Kodak put those single element lenses in not to save money, but to further the pictorialist style of the times. \:~1

I'd have liked it better if they had changed ideas by the time I was learning to take pictures with a Brownie Hawkeye in the 50s.

Soft Focus Moose

They got the 'give a kid a camera' part right. I have pretty much given my old Oly C-765 to my 5 year old. Her photos of her sister (3) and of the world in general give us great pleasure and new insight into her perspective.

"Well, it wouldn't have been Tri-X in 1910."

Verichrome Pan?

One more note: as an experiment, I developed Kodacolor in D-76. Yup, same results as chromogenic film.

As to the refreshing literacy of the ad, please note the audience: The Saturday Evening Post was a literary magazine. This ad would have appeared alongside stories by the likes of Dorothy Parker and F. Scott Fitzgerald, appealing to an audience that got a great deal of its information and entertainment through well-written text accompanied by sophisticated artwork.

And unlike today, photography for the masses was a still new concept (Kodak introduced the Brownie only 10 years prior). Part of this ad's job was to explain to these literate people why they needed a camera and how simple the process was.

I'm sure I don't have to explain how things are marketed today, or the status of cameras. Too many words and thoughts would get in the way of the message of the Ashton and Maria ads. Which is probably why it's the dog doing most of the talking.

'There's nothing in which a girl or boy takes greater delight than picture making.'

Clearly there was a brief period in the history of civilization, just between the 'Contracting Diptheria And Dying Young' and 'Shooting Giant Hogs Slowly To Death And Then Getting Dad to Photograph Me Looking Fat And Smug' phases in which boys and girls really had the time and/or inclination to do something innocent, educational and worthwhile.

I just wish I'd seen it, is all.

"Kodak as a verb! What's next, an Adobe ad encouraging us to "Photoshop" our photos?"
I know that was tongue in cheek, but Adobe goes to great length to AVOID having people use Photoshop as a verb. Usage like that can literally cause Adobe to lose the rights to the word as a trademark. (Which they are probably going to do eventually anyway I'd guess.)

http://www.adobe.com/misc/trade.html>Adobe Trademark Rules

Robert Landrigan -

Funny you should mention Kodak trying to educate about the basics of photography - I am testing the Samsung NX100 mirrorless camera right now, and its manual dedicates a couple pages to "Concepts in Photography," in which they explain things like ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. Most importantly, there are detailed explanations of how those things work together, plus an introduction to the rule of thirds and other basics. It's surprising to see in a modern camera manual.

A lot of older camera manuals I've seen tended to dedicate some space to answering basic dilemmas like "what to do about a backlit subject," and so forth. The Canon AE-1 and Ricoh Super Ricohflex manuals come to mind.

Propers to Samsung (of all companies) for bringing back this seemingly lost detail in their newest manual.

I'm surprised nobody caught on to the biblical undertone in the slogan:

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
—Matthew 19:14

Who does the Kingdom of Kodak belong to...?

I love this ad.

It only took a couple days of my young kids photographing for me to realize that they should have cameras.

A couple images of Oliver and Philip at work shooting (and modeling):


I'm sure I don't have to explain how things are marketed today, or the status of cameras. Too many words and thoughts would get in the way of the message of the Ashton and Maria ads. Which is probably why it's the dog doing most of the talking.

This strikes me like lightning !

There's lots (and lots and lots) more where this one came from, with similarly modern wording and advice. Many of these would still make good copy today, IMHO!


The bit about children photographing each other caught my eye. That's an interesting genre, but I'm wondering if any examples have made it into the canon (no pun intended!) - or have they just remained in the family, which is maybe where they belong anyway.

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