Could a flavor for the vintage be a win for Kodak?
Full disclosure: my first camera was a Kodak, both in film and digital. And their business allegory is one for the ages in terms of a Shakespearean rise to dominance and a spectacular fall from greatness. So it was with keen interest I noted this story at Marketplace on modern film directors wanting to shore up Kodak film for motion picture production. Similar to the way Pabst Blue Ribbon is a long-standing brand that has developed a retro-cred cachet, or the way General Motors is evolving the Cadillac brand — an iconic namesake being reworked for modern relevance — the thought is that there’s enough of a desire for “the way things used to be” to make this happen for Kodak. As one with an active creative pursuit involving photography and image-making, as well as an understanding of corporate communication and PR, I think this could happen, but only, as Marketplace notes, if investment indeed goes toward innovation, rather than propping up the status quo. Personally, I have great nostalgic fondness for brands like Kodak, and have to respect the call of talented creators like Quentin Tarantino and J.J. Abrams furthering this cause. Good on those guys, who, like me, have appreciation for the past and feel that some things are worth keeping around, especially in the name of art.
What do you think? Do you have a preference for anything being done “the old-fashioned way?” Are there any brands you immediately think of as nostalgic yet still with us? Let us hear from you in the comments.
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There’s a lot to appreciate about old cameras. I think they’re an art form unto themselves, having to achieve a goal (photography) in a certain way (conveniently, effectively), with a certain set of rules (workable by human hands). The more I explore photography, the more I’m drawn to these classic designs as a way of connecting with history.
Collecting Classic Cameras = Cool
I left the above comment on Down The Road, a blog by Jim Grey in Indiana. He did an excellent post earlier this year on why he collects vintage cameras, and I re-read it again today. Since that time, I’ve taken the above photo, and have become even more obsessed with photographic shooting techniques, cameras, iPhoneography, photo apps, artists… the list goes on. I say even more obsessed, because I was already far gone in the first place. Here’s what Jim says in return:
These classic designs are absolutely a link to history. Imagining what the world was like at the time one of my old cameras was new is part of what makes me collect!
I like the idea that mechanics, functionality and design all come together in these devices from the past, each of which were the height of technology at some point, and that we can still appreciate them today. And even now, as I’ve pretty much ditched my point-and-shoot camera for my iPhone, the trend continues. I view these vestiges with respect and fascination.
What do you think? Ever owned or operated a vintage camera? Do you collect any vintage gear such as these, vintage suitcases, or any other type of antique? Let us hear from you in the comments.
A view of some well-traveled old souls from the local antique mall. When people carried their bags, dressed for travel, and wore hats. Shot via iPhone using Hipstamatic with Blanko film & John S. Lens.
Have you ever owned this style of suitcase? Do you have memories of your parents or grandparents having such? Ever find anything cool at an antique mall (and if so, what)? Let us hear from you in the comments.
On hearing of Kodak’s bankruptcy recently, I’m nostalgic, as I’m sure many of us are. I easily remember the excitement of discovering photography for the first time as a child and seeing the Kodak logo everywhere, from film, to cameras, to the envelopes my prints were mailed back to me in (remember “sending off” or “dropping off” your film?). This is best summarized for me now by remembering Kodak’s Disc camera.
What’s a Kodak Disc?
For their time, the Kodak Disc cameras were very innovative. It could easily slide in your pocket, came with a built-in flash, and even the film was compact. Sure the picture quality wasn’t great, but for the ease of use and relative affordability, it was a decent experience. Snapshots of life as a kid for me came through the lens of this camera, and I’m intrigued by the parallels of our gadget-obsessed consumer society. I still have prints from my Disc camera, and as I record HD video with my phone today, I wonder what 20 years from now will make us regard even this activity as primitive.
Says Capt. Kodak:
Manufactured from 1982 to 1989 by Eastman Kodak Co. When introduced, they made a big splash—in less than 10 years, they were gone. They featured a 15 exposure flat “disc” of film using new film technology to get acceptable images from it 8x10mm negative size. Some of this film technology was later introduced into the 35mm line of films making them even sharper and producing better images on a bigger negative. Ironically, that improvement and Kodak’s own introduction of inexpensive 35mm cameras may have led to the Disc camera’s demise.
Back when I rocked the iPhone 4 bumper, my swag was enhanced by this awesome Kodak Disc iPhone skin. The symbolic convergence of technology and art through photography on so many levels with this simple decal is so poignant to me. Though no longer available from this manufacturer (another similarity with the actual camera), I truly appreciate how this is a tribute to digital ancestry in consumer electronics and photography. Like the gadget that inspired it, this decal goes along with you in your pocket, attached to your camera that also makes phone calls, sends SMS messages, surfs the Internet, is your GPS, Yellow Pages, day planner, entertainment hub… um, while fun, the Disc didn’t do all that.
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Sure, I love my iPhone and applications like Hipstamatic for their high-quality and instant gratification. Yet it’s so interesting to me how nostalgia in the form of apps like Hipstamatic or digital photo booths is enjoying popularity now. And the Disc’s portability and ease of use can’t help but come to mind these days when I’m whipping out the iPhone for some snapshots with a retro-camera app.
I also love the ease and fun of social networks like Instagram and management tools like Flickr for making sharing our snapshots so easy and ubiquitous. In fact, I fully credit Instagram for reigniting my own interest in photography these days — which happen to be directly traceable to the days when I was posing my Star Wars action figures for some action shots with my trusty Kodak Disc.
What do you think? Are you sad to see Kodak’s demise? Did you or anyone you know ever work for Kodak? Do you use any Kodak products today (paper, digital, etc.) What lessons are there to be gained by the fall of a once-great innovating company? Let us hear from you in the comments!
Photo Credit: Kodak 4000 Disc Camera, by Capt. Kodak
So I was at this fundraiser last night, which was a huge affair and likely a roaring success. I’m very proud of our community for coming out to have a fun time while supporting a good cause and enjoying the downtown nightlife. There happened to be this photo booth setup with props and instant prints — you get behind a curtain, take 4 digital photos in 10 seconds, and get a printout instantly. It was even free! (Or, included in the price of the event ticket). Totally fun.
And hey, you can even go online to view them the next day. The guy handing my prints told me so, and there’s a website on the back. Easy-breezy! Cool!
I hope he told everyone else this, because everyone else’s photos are there as well. What looks to be every… single… photo. My guess is that these have been screened for gang signs, product placement and, um… body parts, but I wonder if everyone realized their snapshots would be available for the world to see the next day?
Congratulations, You’re Famous!
If there was a sign stating these would be online, complete with social sharing buttons on every pic’s page, I didn’t see one. Not that I’d ever do anything at a public event that I wouldn’t want, you know… public, but being behind a curtain in a booth implies an idea of privacy, especially when you walk away with the prints in your hand. That is no longer so in our technoconnected world, and to assume otherwise is naive.
Don’t get me wrong — I think the modern photo booth is a fantastic idea and I hope the venture and this local franchisee makes a million bucks. What with the rise of vintage effects and retro cameras now supercharged with the speed, portability and low cost of digital photography, I think it’s wonderful to bring back an “old-timey” experience, and especially to make sharing easy. But I gotta wonder if — and do hope — everyone else pictured is cool with that.