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Cameras and Communities

100yearsofcamerasTechnology has always fascinated me.

Not so much for the gears and circuits and construction of it, but the uses and abuses we put it to in our daily lives.  One of the technologies I always enjoyed was photography. From the Kodak brownie of my youth through Polaroids, and Instamatics to video cameras, and then digital still and video cameras, memorializing life through photography has always been fun. In fact, the photo on this post is just a quick round up of cameras in my house showing a motion picture camera from the 1930 that my Dad used through the early 1960s, a Kodak Rainbow camera that’s about 100 years old, a stereopticon used for home entertainment and assorted digital cameras including a flip video.

Yesterday I read that Kodak was discontinuing the production of their Kodachrome film after a 74 year run. Developed in 1935, Kodachrome was the first commercially successful color film, and grew to be loved by still and motion picture photographers.  46 years ago Abraham Zapruder used it to film the assassination of President Kennedy, and 36 years ago, the country rocked to Paul Simon’s ode to Kodachrome.

It got me thinking

The box camera was a neat invention. When George Eastman forst sold it 128 years ago, it was loaded with enough film for 100 exposures. The price of the camera was $25.00 and the cost to develop the film was $10.00 (consumers needed to send the entire camera back to the lab for development, where the film was removed from the light tight container, and a new roll of film was installed, before the camera was sent back to the consumer with their developed prints).

The next step was the growth of home based darkrooms where amateur photographers could manipulate the photos  through the tricky and often complex process of developing and exposing the film to morph the photo into an artistic expression of the photographer’s vision. Using more light or less light, or different chemical mixes could help the talented amateur achieve great results.

But that’s not the case..

Today we’ve lost that experience along with the need to process our film after the event is concluded and the camera has returned home. Our phones and cameras let us review our work immediately and to manipulate the figures through our online service like Flickr or on our computer.  But our ability to use technology to help us express ourselves or share beauty or family experiences has grown so exponentially that I am willing to trade the “darkroom experience” for the ease of manipulating digital photos or videos. And to trade the photo album for photo sharing.

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When Eastman sold his first box cameras, photos were moving from being formal to being pat of our daily lives. But when they were taken, we put them in albums and saved them for later. Of course we might share photos in a small way by making a copy for Mom or Dad or some other family member, but photos were taken by us, for us, displayed often, but  taken out only rarely once they had been put into an album.

Photos are for Sharing

Today taking photos is really more about sharing our experience and vision than it has ever been. Teresa Boardman showed me that Flickr was not a place to store digital images, or to mine for graphics through , but a community of people that share their experience and vision through their common use of digital photography.  Since she opened my eyes, and I began sharing more of my photos of Flickr, I have met new folks, joined groups that commented on photos that I took, had one of my photos published in an online travel guide, and viewed tons of awesome photos taken by others that gave me ideas for my own photos and inspire me to take more and better pictures (and sadly I’m pretty syre that it will be in that order).

So let me share my epiphany with you and suggest that you might also enjoy some sharing and viewing in this new world of photography. We might have lost Kodachrome, but what we’ve gained seems much more significant to me – What do you think?

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Written By

Bill is an unusual blend of Old & New - The CEO Century 21 Advantage Gold (Philadelphia's Largest Century 21 company and BuzzBuilderz (a Social Media Marketing Company), He is a Ninja CEO, blending the Web 1 and 2.0 world together in a fashion that stretches the fabric of the universe. You can follow him on twitter @Billlublin or Facebook or LinkedIn.



  1. Lani Rosales

    June 24, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    Bill, your epiphany is now my epiphany. We have some antique photo equipment in our family and hell, I count my cell phone’s old camera to be an antique. People say we’ve sold our souls and lost something but I’m with you- mourning a loss of passing technology is only for nostalgia if you’ve gained more than what you’ve lost.

    Photography is beautiful- it’s modern expressionist art in its finest form and the pace we now run is much faster but so rewarding. I WILL say though that from experience, I can tell you that Flickr can’t compete with physically being in a dark room with smelly chemicals (but then again, that’s my nostalgia speaking, not my practical side).

    Bill, you should come see the Fritz Henle exhibit at UT, Chris & Marie Lengquist came to visit recently and we went, it was amazing, it even had some of his old equipment!

  2. Chris Lengquist

    June 24, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    I was summoned here through the powers that be. I say “Be Gone!” darkrooms and film. It smells, it’s not easily manipulated and storage has to be handled with much space and great care. Digital allows expressionist freedom in ways only before imagined.

    Photos are meant to be shared. I would say the only negative to all of this is that many people think their photographs are unique or good or (even worse) great. But they are not. Digital allows regular folks to create thousands of pretty good photos. But to see great photographs, photographs that move people, you still need the camera (with whatever the medium may be, ie film, pixels, etc) in the hands of a professional.

    Real estate agents like to think that since they sell houses and they own a camera that their photos are good. I’ve read a hundred times that consumers notice the differences and linger longer at the pro shots. So it seems that REALTORS are in denial on this subject.

  3. Bill Lublin

    June 24, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    Lani; I had no idea you had darkroom memories like I did (I even confess to having learned to like the smell) though I’m sure your were even more creative. Always glad to share an epiphany with friends. Better be careful though with the UT invites you might end up with me in Texas 😉

    Chris: I agree about the poor jobs so many people do – for some reason all the real estate agents with cameras seem to rush through and accept anything without thinking about how they can help maximize the experience of viewing the house online. I do think that the more pictures we take the more pictures we want to take and the more we stand to learn from the experience – or maybe I’m being overly enthusiastic about the experience I enjoy 🙂

  4. teresa boardman

    June 25, 2009 at 7:12 am

    Bill – I think people have always had a desire to share photos. There are so many of them in boxes and closets, the internet gave us a way to share.

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