Photography (Part Four): the Democratization of Photography — Kodak, Polaroid, Cell Phones
Liberal Arts Blog — Friday is the Joy of Art, Architecture, Film, Design, and All Things Visual Day
Today’s Topic: Photography (Part Four): the Democratization of Photography — Kodak, Polaroid, Cell Phones
Today, three milestones in the democratization of photography. Once self-portraits were expensive propositions that only nobles, bishops, and super rich bankers and merchants could afford. Now selfies are for all practical purposes free. Three cheers for capitalism! Three cheers for technology! Another example of the proposition that “capitalism turns luxuries into necessities.” Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
THE KODAK BROWNIE: $1 for a camera in 1901
1. “You push the button. We do the rest.”
2. George Eastman had invented roll film in 1888 which eliminated the need for heavy, cumbersome equipment and inaugurated the era of amateur photography.
3. Eastman thought of the Kodak camera as a “ photographic notebook, an enduring record of many things seen only once in a lifetime and enables the fortunate possessor to go back by the light of his own fireside to scenes which otherwise fade from memory and be lost.”
POLAROID SWINGER: Instant gratification in 1965 for $19.95
1. Before Polaroid you had to wait days or weeks for your film to get developed.
2. The instant camera was invented by the eccentric genius Edwin Land, a Harvard drop-out, who ran the company from 1937 until 1981.
3. The first instant camera came out in 1948 but the first cheap one was the Swinger which came out in 1965 for $19.95.
NB: Polaroid stock peaked in 1970. Employment at the company peaked in 1978, Revenue in 1991. The company went bankrupt in 2001.
THE DIGITAL CAMERA — a free feature in your cell phone
1. Sales of phones with embedded cameras now exceed dedicated camera sales.
2. Instagram has over 1 billion users.
3. It has been estimated that over one trillion photographs were taken last year by over 4 billion people.