Wanyu Final Post Topic

Kodak and the rise of amateur photography

—How portable camera socialize people’s life

For my final post of this class I want to have a case study of Kodak Company, from the historical lense to flashback the past, current and the future of Kodak impact. By far the most significant event in the history of amaetur photography was the introduction of the Kodak #1 camera in 1888. Invented and marketed by George Eastman (1854 – 1932) Upon that time, the Kodak was a simple box camera that came loaded with a 100-exposure roll of film, so when the roll was finished, the entire machine was sent back to the factory and reloaded then returned to their customer when the first roll was being processed.George Eastman was successfully made photography accessible to millions of casual amateurs with no particular professional training, technical expertise or aesthetix credentials. The famous advertising campaign with the memorable slogan “You press the button, we do the rest” was published in many places.the-kodak-camera-century-1889

The word after Eastman first camera had a tremendous changed and huge impact on people’s life, there was the first step of a 20-year quest that would lead him to his most iconic camera – the Brownie. Basically it changed many American families themselve to recall their family history and memory. The great majority of early snapshots were made for personal reasons: to commemorate important events (weddings, graduations, parades); to document travels and seaside holidays,  to record parties, picnics, or simple family get-togethers; to capture the appearance of children, pets, cars, and houses (The earliest Kodak photographs were printed in a circular format but later models produced a rectangular image, usually printed small enough to be held in the palm of the hand. Most snapshots produced between the 1890s and the 1950s were destined for placement in the family album, itself an important form of vernacular expression. The compilers of family albums often arranged the photographs in narrative sequences, providing factual captions along with witty commentary; some albums contain artfully elaborate collages of cut-and-pasted photographs and text, often combining personal snapshots with commercial images clipped from magazines too. I’m also interesting in the the relationship between the customer who but Kodak camera and how they treated to these magical small boxes, some amateur photographers reacted to the snapshot craze by forming organizations dedicated to promoting photography as a fine art rather the pop art. However, since the development of  camera has always way beyond than people’s expect , in the mid-1960s, the idea of a “snapshot aesthetic” began to get currency in art photography vase. (featured Garry Winogard with his black and white photos)

The impact of post-Kodak period is even stronger on current society, as one of the new media forms changes the structure of society. Paradoxically, the power of photography based on today’s technology can be turned into objects that can be symbolically possessed by anyone today.



  • Fineman, Mia. “Kodak and the Rise of Amateur Photography.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/kodk/hd_kodk.htm (October 2004)
  • Kivowitz, Scott Wyden. “Kodak’s Importance in the Rise and Development of Photography.” Scott Wyden Kivowitz. N.p., 08 July 2016. Web. 25 Apr. 2017.
  • Kodak: 130 years of history – Telegraph. (n.d.). Telegraph.co.uk – Telegraph online, Daily Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph – Telegraph.
  • Technological change: The last Kodak moment? | The Economist. (n.d.). The Economist – World News, Politics, Economics, Business & Finance.
  • Kodak Archives
    [Kodak developed small, portable film cameras and enabled amateur photography as middle class consumer hobby. The established socialization of consumer camera users in domestic and personal photography enabled the rapid adoption of digital cameras and smart phone cameras. Ignore the corporate PR and focus on the history.] Heritage and History of Company,  Milestones in camera and photo technologies
  • Szarkowski, John. The Photographer’s Eye. S.l.: S.n., 1970. Print.
  • Bull, Stephen. Photography. London and New York: Taylor and Francis, 2010. Print.
  • Camera Heritage Museum at Saunton, VA