Ramblings & ephemera

Teach people not to want a camera, but photography itself

From James Surowiecki’s “The Tastemakers” (The New Yorker [13 January 2003]: 31):

… it’s one thing to foist a fad on people, and another to have a deep and enduring impact on their everyday customs and habits. In the late eighteen-eighties, when George Eastman invented the Kodak – the first point-and-shoot camera – photography was the private domain of enthusiasts and professionals. Though the Kodak was relatively cheap and easy to use, most Americans didn’t see the need for a camera; they had no sense that there was any value in visually documenting their lives. So, instead of simply marketing a camera, Eastman sold photography. His advertisements told people what to take pictures of: vacations, holidays, “the Christmas house party.” Kodak introduced the concept of the photo album, and made explicit the connection between photographs and memories. Before long, it was more or less considered a patriotic duty to commemorate the notable – and not so notable – moments in your life on a roll of Kodak film.

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