RetroCameras! (Manning)

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Manning, Pamela
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Enjoy student research into a multitude of old cameras! Students have discovered old image-makers in attics, basements, antique and junk stores. They have made them operational through direction from experts in the field, and by downloading camera manuals. They have researched photographers using the cameras and a history of the era of usage. Through a combination of analog, film and digital, they are producing images. Experience the past through an exhibit of their photographs!
Display of pictures taken with a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye camera
Manning 1 Pam Manning Marydorsey Wanless Retro Camera Seminar AR399 F April 10, 2011 My Mother’s Camera The Kodak Brownie camera has a long history with the Eastman Kodak company which began in February 1900 with the introduction of a very basic cardboard box camera with a simple lens that took 2¼ inch square pictures and cost only $1. The Brownie introduced the concept of snapshot photography and was intended to introduce photography to everyone, not just professional photographers (Kodak). What is considered one of the greatest slogans in advertising history, “You push the button, we do the rest” reinforced the simplicity of the Brownie camera (American Heritage). Designed and marketed for children, the Brownie camera was named after popular characters created by Palmer Cox, a children’s author and illustrator. Cox was the Walt Disney of his day. His Brownie characters were as well known in the 1880’s as Mickey Mouse is today (Kodak). Like Disney’s characters, Cox’s Brownies often appeared in ads. They helped sell everything from candies to cigars, coffee to ice cream, and even painkillers. Brownie dolls, games, puzzles, and trading cards were eagerly sought. And so was the Brownie camera, far beyond anyone’s expectations (Kodak). My history with the Kodak Brownie began when my mother took my picture with her Kodak Brownie Hawkeye. She would direct me to stand in a certain pose or perform a certain task. When she was happy with what she saw she would then back away from me, hold the camera about waist height, look down into the viewfinder and click. The roll of film was then taken to the drugstore, who sent the film to a developer (no one-hour photo in those Manning 2 days!), and the long wait for the prints began. The prints arrived as shiny little squares with a white border and deckle looking edge. If you were lucky, you got 12 good pictures per roll of film. My mother didn’t know it at the time but she had purchased one of the most popular cameras of the 1950s. Eastman Kodak produced millions of Brownie Hawkeye cameras which they introduced in May 1949 and ended production in July 1961. The box camera featured a bakelite (molded plastic) body with brilliant finder which took 2¼” square pictures and used 620 film. The camera featured a meniscus single element lens that was in focus from 5 feet to infinity and a rotary shutter. The Brownie Hawkeye was originally sold for $5.50. If you wanted to purchase a flash unit for your Brownie Hawkeye you would pay an additional $7.00. The camera without flash unit was produced from May 1949 - November 1951 (Kodak Brownie Hawkeye flash model review). The Kodak Brownie Hawkeye flash model was released by the Rochester, New York based camera and film company in September 1950. The flash unit actually cost more than the camera itself at the time. The flash model outfit sold for around $15 and included the camera, flash unit, film, batteries, bulbs and the manual (How to Use the Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Flash Model Camera). The flash model was manufactured from September 1950 - July 1961. The name for the Brownie Hawkeye was a merging between two of Kodak’s tradenames. The Brownie line of very inexpensive cameras aimed at children and the extremely budget-conscious. Hawk-Eye came from Blair Camera which Kodak had ac­quired around the turn of the century, when Hawk-Eyes, Bulls-Eyes, Targets and others all battled it out for the bottom of the market. Kodak ended up with all of them and mixed-and-matched the names to various cameras as they saw fit (Ollinger’s Camera Collection). Because of the economical price of the camera and simplicity of taking snapshots with the Brownie it soon became a part of many families of the time. Ansel Adam’s first Manning 3 camera, which was a Kodak Brownie, was given to him by his parents in 1916 (wikipedia). He used that Kodak Brownie to take his first photographs at Yosemite National Park. Adams soon became a regular summer visitor to the majestic park. (American Experience) The infamous pictures that Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow took of each other were taken with a Kodak Brownie. Some stories say the camera was stolen from one of their numerous victims, others say Clyde bought the camera for Bonnie. The camera was found in their Joplin, Missouri hideout with the undeveloped film still in the camera. The film was developed to discover the popular photos, now famous, of Bonnie and Clyde. ( Having written an article in the 1940s for amateur photographers suggesting an expensive camera was unnecessary for quality photography, the famous Picture Post photographer Bert Hardy used a Brownie camera to stage a carefully posed snapshot of two young women sitting on railings above a breezy Blackpool promenade (wikipedia). In 1908, the Austrian architectural critic Joseph August Lux wrote a book called Künstlerische Kodakgeheimnisse (Artistic Secrets of the Kodak) in which he championed the use of the camera for its cultural potential. Guided by a position that was influenced by the Catholic critique of modernity, he argued that the accessibility the camera provided for the amateur meant that people could photograph and document their surroundings and thus produce a type of stability in the ebb and flow of the modern world. (wikipedia) When my mother purchased the Kodak Brownie Hawkeye in January 1955 she was purchasing a part of history. Not only the history of the Kodak Brownie box camera, but also photographic history. I intend to add to my collection of Kodak Brownie cameras over the years and use the skills I’ve learned from this class to restore the camera, take photos and develop the film. I’m happy that this class has allowed me to become a part of history by using the camera my mother purchased so many years ago. Manning 4 Works Cited American Experience 9 April, 2011 American 9 April, 2011 7 April, 2011 garage-1933-hideout-joplin-for-sale-on-ebay How to Use the Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Flash Model Camera 2 April, 2011 Kodak 2 April, 2011 Kodak Brownie Hawkeye flash model review 2 April, 2011 Ollinger’s Camera Collection 8 April, 2011 wikipedia 9 April, 2011 9 April, 2011