Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Circular Snapshot

Aren't these pictures amazing?  Ever since I started collecting old photos a couple years ago, I've developed a particular fondness for Kodak circular snapshots.  Recently, I was quite pleased to make the acquaintance of this lovely collection over at the National Media Museum’s flickr page, as well as learn about their place in the history of photography: 
Popular photography can properly be said to have started 120 years ago with the introduction of the Kodak.  It was a simple, leather-covered wooden box – small and light enough to be held in the hands. Taking a photograph with the Kodak was very easy, requiring only three simple actions; turning the key (to wind on the film); pulling the string (to set the shutter); and pressing the button (to take the photograph). There wasn’t even a viewfinder - the camera was simply pointed in the direction of the subject to be photographed. The Kodak produced circular snapshots, two and a half inches in diameter.

The Kodak was sold already loaded with enough paper-based roll film to take one hundred photographs. After the film had been exposed, the entire camera was returned to the factory for the film to be developed and printed. The camera, reloaded with fresh film, was then returned to its owner, together with a set of prints. To sum up the Kodak system, Eastman devised the brilliantly simple sales slogan: ‘You press the button, we do the rest.’
Imagine -- no viewfinder!  With so much left to chance, it must have been a great surprise to receive those 100 photographs in the mail.  Here are three more of my favorites from the Museum's collection: