Don’t Lose Those ‘Kodak’ Moments!
Louis Daguerre produced the first daguerreotype (an early photo process) when he shot an image of the Boulevard du Temple, Paris in 1838. Film cameras didn’t develop until 1888 when Kodak invented his film process. In 1900, the $1.00 Kodak Brownie camera was introduced, and modern photography was born. For most of the twentieth century, photography was pretty much the same. Cameras may have varied from company to company, some boasting better optics, wider shutter length settings, or built in eclectic flashes, but they all used film. Eastman Kodak pretty much dominated the market, but some swore Fuji Film was more vivid. The drawback of film is that you had to send it out to be developed at a film lab, and then wait for the prints to arrive in the mail, or at the FotoMat booth, or the drugstore. If you were willing to invent in a home dark room, and the chemicals needed, you could do it yourself, but most folks were content to leave it to the professionals. The only other alternative was the Polaroid instant camera. Like the early daguerreotype, the Polaroid process produced an instant print that was one of a kind, it had no negative, the print WAS the print, the only existing copy. If you wanted to copy a Polaroid photo, you needed to have the original photographed with a film camera, and of course there was slight loss of quality as this was a copy of a copy.
Today, more pictures are shot in a single year than in all of the last century. Each year over a trillion pictures are taken thanks to smart phones with built-in cameras.
Back in My day…
I have maybe five photographs of my father. My mother didn’t take pictures, she was never a photo bug. There were a few years when she arranged for a professional photographer to come to the house for baby pictures to be taken, or family portraits, but she couldn’t be bothered to buy a simple camera. The few pictures she horded were given her by family and friends, but most of those were lost as we moved like gypsies after she lost her second husband, my stepfather.
After my stepfather Alfred died, my mother had a boyfriend named Bill. In reality, this was a teenage crush that she bumped into many years down the road. He was a shutter bug, and owned a Polaroid Instamatic Camera. That was the first camera I ever used.
Years later, when I was about 12, my aunt Arleen gave me a Kodak Instamatic. Essentially Kodak had copied the Polaroid Instant Camera and were sued into dropping the new clone from their production line. You were able to buy the film for it for a little while, but eventually it was totally obsolete after the film stock expired and new film wasn’t manufactured.
My second job was working for Olden Camera in NYC, in their computer department. It was then that I purchased my first real 35mm camera, a Nikkon automatic. This point and shot camera was pretty simple to use and lasted many years. Eventually I did get a ‘real’ camera, a Minolta SLR with various lenses and accessories. It was a lot of weight lugging about that loaded camera bag of accessories, and it was annoying trying to explain all the settings and how to use the camera when I passed it to someone to shoot if the self-timer function was impractical and I wanted to be in the picture. Then disposable cameras came about, and I started using those as everyone knew how to work them. The point is, from the time I brought my Nikkon in the 80’s, for nearly twenty years I shot 35mm film. I have boxes of negative files, and envelopes of prints, as well as photo albums.
For almost the first thirty years of my life, you were limited to film cameras, and the most you could shoot on a roll was 36 exposures. So when you went somewhere and saw something that you wanted to remember forever, you selectively shot one or two photos of it at most, because you had limited shots, and buying film, and getting it processed and printed was expensive.
Nowadays, most of what we shoot is digital, and we send the pictures we want to share in e-mail or texts.
The sizes of the digital storage media has even changed, with most of the early media obsolete. Yet, because the photos are digital we are taking more pictures than ever because smart phones have built in cameras that are getting better with each new model. You still take better pictures with a dedicated digital camera than you do with a smart phone, but even I will use my phone to take pictures if it’s all I have on me.
Pictures have value. We prize them and treasure them.
A couple of years ago, I lost a SD card with pictures that were not yet copied to my hard drive. I was packing to return from a trip to the shore, and I think I left it on a table at the hotel. It was never recovered. If you use a digital camera like I do, back it up frequently if not after every photo shoot. Even if you use your phone to take pictures, copy the data. Theoretically, smart phones back-up their data to the cloud, but I still don’t trust that. This is why it is vitally important to frequently back-up and copy all your image files. If your electronics suffer a catastrophe, you don’t want to compound the blow by losing your precious ‘Kodak’ moments.
Pictures, or it ‘never happened’!
Organize your old prints and negatives. A few weeks ago, I was searching for some old vacation photos from 16 years ago, I needed an image, and I could not find either the prints or the negatives. It was very frustrating. It’s probably packed away in a box somewhere in the bottom of the walk-in, but damned if I know where.
- Frequently copy your media cards.
- If you have obsolete media, copy the data off the cards while you still have an appropriate reader. Media is useless if you can’t access it.
- if you have old Polaroid’s or prints, scan them into a digital file.
- If you have old negatives, invest in a good quality negative scanner and digitize them.
The time, money, and effort you put into preserving your treasured photos will be returned when you can locate and share your Kodak moments. As Always I wish you success and happiness!
2 thoughts on “Say Cheese!”
Wise words. When cleaning out my father’s estate last year my sister and I puzzled over a large quantity of pictures we knew existed, yet could not be located. There were thousand of photos, it’s just that some we were looking for specifically had apparently vanished. We’ll never know to where or for why.
Incidentally you mean “Polaroid instant” camera, not “Instamatic”. The latter is a Kodak trademark for their cartridge-loading cameras of 126 and 110 (pocket instamatic) film sizes. The Kodak instants had designations like “EK4” and “EK6”. Yes, of had some of everything; more than 450 cameras in fact. I’ve reduced it considerably. 🙂
Thank you. I’m sorry about your missing pictures, I know what that’s like.