Yes, Polaroid and Kodak made hundreds of millions of cameras. But that was never their principal business: The hardware existed mostly to sell film. This is what business-school professors call the razor-blade model, pioneered by Gillette: The razor is sold at minimal profit or even given away, and the blades sell for years afterward at a healthy profit margin. Amazon does the same with the Kindle, selling it cheaply to encourage enthusiastic e-book buying.
More than anything else, Polaroid’s desire in the 1990s to keep film sales up and film factories humming was what killed the company. When it should’ve been diving into a variety of digital businesses, Polaroid doubled down on analog-film production, building new production equipment and trying to economize.
Imagine you were a newspaper photo editor back in 1963, and Swiss Magnum photographer René Burri handed you the contact sheet above filled with portraits of revolutionary Che Guevara. Which photograph would you select for publication?
You might recognize one of the photographs, since it has become one of the most iconic portraits created of Che. Read more…
Here’s an interesting 26-minute documentary about the life and work of 20th-century-photographer Edward Weston, a man who is considered to be one of the most influential American photographers and one of the masters of photography during his era. The 1948 film, titled “The Photographer,” was shot by American filmmaker Willard Van Dyke, an apprentice of Weston’s, who went on to become a very notable photographer in his own right. Read more…
In 1991, a group of Austrian art students on a trip to nearby Prague found […] a curious little camera […] it produced pictures unlike anything they had seen before. The little camera was the Lomo LC-A – Lomo Kompact Automat, built in Soviet-era Leningrad by Leningrad Optics and Mechanics Association (Lomo) – and very soon a craze was born. It was an analogue Instagram in the days before digital photography.
This Lomo craze may have ended up helping save film photography from an untimely end. In 1992, the students set up Lomographic Society International, exhibiting shots taken on unwanted Lomos they had bought up from all over Eastern Europe. Then, in the mid-90s, having exhausted the supply of left-over Lomos gathering dust in Budapest, Bucharest or East Berlin, they went to the camera’s manufacturers […] and persuaded them to restart production. The negotiations were helped along by the support of the city’s then deputy mayor, Vladimir Putin.
According to Dowling, there is speculation that Lomography is a potential suitor for Kodak’s film business that is currently for sale.
[…] the original model took about 8 seconds to save a photo to a disk, this version averaged a more tolerable 4 seconds. In addition, Sony has added some nifty new features. These include the ability to make copies of floppies using just the camera–very handy if you want to hand out extra disks on the spot. A new quarter-resolution (320 by 240) option also makes it faster to e-mail photographs. (The camera’s full resolution is 640 by 480.) A built-in menu on the MVC-FD71’s LCD screen permits you to easily take advantage of useful new options such as these.
My main complaint? The high price tag. List-priced at $799, the Mavica costs more than many high-quality 35mm cameras. And as with most digital cameras, this model fails to deliver image quality that is comparable to the quality produced by a 35mm.
The reviewer also commends the camera for weighing in at just 1.2 pounds.
Snapping mirror self-portraits may have gotten a huge boost from the introduction of digital photography and smartphoneography, but it is by no means a new activity limited to our era. The photograph above was created back in 1917 — nearly 100 years ago! It was snapped by an Australian flying ace named Thomas Baker when he was 20 years old. Read more…
Photography isn’t even 200-years-old yet, but there have already been over 150 different chemical processes developed over its relatively short lifetime. In this interesting 5-minute video titled “A Brief History of Photography: Innovations in Chemistry,” photo conservation scientist Art Kaplan of the Getty Conservation Institute quickly introduces some of the groundbreaking processes that have made a significant impact on the history of photography — processes such as the daguerreotype, ambrotype and tintype. Read more…
Just in case this question ever comes up while you’re playing the world’s hardest game of photography trivia, what you see above is the first photograph ever snapped in Finland. Mats Söderlund of The Crop Factor writes,
This may look like something captured with Instagram on the newest smartphone, but it’s something a bit different indeed. It is the first photograph taken in Finland, ever. The photo dates back to the year 1842, and celebrated its 170th birthday last Saturday, November 3rd. The photograph is a daguerreotype […] It was taken in Turku, which ironically also is Finland’s oldest city […] The photographer was Henrik Cajander, a doctor by trade who lived on the very street the photo was taken […]
As you can see the photo isn’t exactly perfect, technically or aesthetically speaking, but it is a big part of the history in Finnish photography. Some might call the crooked composition an amateur mistake, but the photographer was, in the realest sense, an amateur at what he was doing.
Wouldn’t it be interesting if there were a gallery of the first photographs shot in each country on Earth?
Dutch historian Jo Teeuwisse is back with another fascinating then-and-now project (we featured her work once back in 2010), this time titled Ghosts of War–France. The images show old World War II photographs of soldiers blended seamlessly into photos of the same locations in modern day France.