Friday, 20 January 2012

Kodak moments

I first heard the phrase "a Kodak moment" just a few years ago, possibly something to do with me being out of touch with what is happening in the big world beyond the South Downs. But with the news this week that Kodak, or Eastman Kodak or whatever the company is really called, is close to going bust, perhaps that little phrase has but a limited life ahead of it. I suppose what has really put the skids under Kodak is the digital age. Time was when almost every household owned a Kodak Brownie camera and bought rolls of Kodak or Ilford film from the chemist, taking the exposed film back to the chemist to be processed. As a young teenager, ie when I was about thirteen, I owned just such a camera. I seem to recall it taking a size 127 film which allowed me to take ... was it 8 or 12 pictures? Oh, the anticipation while waiting to collect the prints two or three days after taking the exposed film to the chemist - and the excitement with which the cardboard folder was opened! Few, very few, of the resulting photographs were worth preserving but every one would be lovingly kept in a photograph album.

Remember those? They consisted of a number of sheets of thick, black paper which was considered best for displaying the black and white photographs (colour film might have been available but if it was it would have been prohibitively expensive). The photos were held in place by mounts, little triangular paper things which slipped over the corners of the photos and were either self-adhesive or needed licking to make them stick to the page - I don't remember which. Then the photos had to be captioned using special white ink and either a dip pen or, if you couldn't find one of those, a cocktail stick or similar.

The photos themselves were mostly just contact prints, hence the small number on a roll of film. I have a couple on my desk in front of me now and they measure 1 7/8" by 2¾", which is just about OK for a head and shoulders portrait (those on my desk are of my mother and father) but absolutely hopeless for landscape pictures. All the same, I used to take great care in arranging all my pictures - portraits and landscapes - on the pages in artistic fashions.

Now that almost all photography is digital, the majority of pictures are stored on computers or, increasingly it seems, on mobile phones. Albums are almost things of the dim and distant past, remembered only by dinosaurs like me. I know two people who still use them but they use the modern version, the sort which consists of pockets fronted by cellophane into which one slips the pictures. There are always two to a page and the pictures are always displayed in landscape format (one has to turn the album to look at a portrait-format picture). I think that the sheer mass of pictures presented at a view with no space between them distracts from them and I find it difficult to look through such an album. But I wonder if it is still possible to buy the old sort?

Perhaps the ultimate in photograph albums is the printed picture book available over the web from so many places. It might even be possible nowadays to get them from the local supermarket. I did have one made and I found it great fun selecting the pictures to include and arranging them on the pages in various sizes. This is a great reminder of the before, during and after of our holiday home in France.

But on the subject of Kodak moments, I burst out laughing when I saw this:

That is the lock on the shower-room door as it was when we bought our French house. Yes, the lock was on the outside, not the inside. I had visions of the Old Bat locked in. You know the song?

"Oh dear, what can the matter be?
One old lady locked in the lavatory."

I've changed it now.


Uncle Skip, said...

It's always interesting to find out at the end where your posts have led us ;-)

Suldog said...

Photos were much more precious then. Almost anyone's photo albums were fun to leaf through because usually only the best were saved. And, being harder to shoot, develop, collect, and save, made your own family's photos much more valued.

Now? Good and bad. More of them, and easily available, which cuts out all anticipatory delight, but does allow for a greater range of shots for any one person.

I think, on balance, I still prefer the older way. For one thing, you always KNEW when a photo was being taken. And nobody could get an embarrassing shot of you and post it on the web to humiliate you (I'm thankful that I haven't had this happen - yet.) And, because they were more expensive and limited, more care was taken. That's just my opinion, of course, and I'm sure it's in the minority.

Buck said...

Albums are almost things of the dim and distant past, remembered only by dinosaurs like me.

And me. I still have a few of the old black-paper albums, handed down oh-so-long ago. And many more than a few of those "modern" albums you mention. Speakin' of... I had some photo processing done in Tokyo around '93 or '94 and was surprised to see my prints come back inserted in albums. That had never happened to me before and I thought it was a nice touch. My Japanese friends thought I was pretty strange for bein' surprised... "What? You don't get your prints like this in America?" Ummm, no. No, we didn't.

Good times.

IT (aka Ivan Toblog) said...

Kodak's problem was they kept backing the wrong horse. Part of that was due to being the only game in town for such a long time

Stephen Hayes said...

I remember those photographs and the albums we glued them into. I was inspired enough to take photography courses in college but I spent so much time in the darkroom trying to manipulate the images that I figured I might as well paint the darn things. So I became an illustrator.

The Broad said...

I have photograph albums of every kind and description ... Even a couple with those black pages and triangular "thingies" -- which are forever coming lose! The difficulty with them is finding space and organizing them all. I didn't get my first digital camera until 2001 so all those pictures date from before then and there are thousands of them. For a while toward the end for an extra pound or dollar you could get two copies of each picture! Still I can't bear to throw them away so they are piled deep in drawers waiting for the day when I get around to organizing them (in my dreams probably!).

#1Nana said...

Onmy list of things to do is to digitalize all the pictures from our albums.

My dad worked at Kodak in England (we lived in Harrow) before we immigrated to the US.

Brighton Pensioner said...

Oh, Skip, I meant to say that I'm always interested to see where we end up as well!

Anonymous said...

Mmmm I remember collecting my sister's Brownie pack holiday photographs from Boots when we were kids.

She'd taken them in a windy Norfolk, and every one was of her hair blowing across the lens!

Hoorah for the "delete" facility with digital cameras.