Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Kodak First Snapshots

One of the first circular snapshots (with the Kodak nr 1 camera) 'Man with suitcase and others on the White House grounds' by photographer Uriah Hunt Painter (1889,  LOC)

The Kodak camera wasinvented by George Eastman (1854-1932). It was a simple, leather-covered wooden box – small and light enough to be held in the hands. Taking a photograph with the Kodak was very easy, requiring only three simple actions; turning the key (to wind on the film); pulling the string (to set the shutter); and pressing the button (to take the photograph). There was not even a viewfinder - the camera was simply pointed in the direction of the subject to be photographed.

The Kodak produced circular snapshots, two and a half inches in diameter. Apparently this format was chosen 'to ensure that the photographer didn’t have to hold the camera exactly level with the horizon, and to compensate for the poor image quality at the corners of the image'.


The Kodak was sold already loaded with enough paper-based roll film to take one hundred photographs. After the film had been exposed, the entire camera was returned to the factory for the film to be developed and printed. The camera, reloaded with fresh film, was then returned to its owner, together with the set of prints. To sum up the Kodak system, Eastman devised the brilliantly simple sales slogan: ‘You press the button, we do the rest.’


next episode: bonbon


  1. I didn't know the history of these round photos, so thanks for posting. The photo is very good, the 'others' make it more interesting I think :)

  2. Thanks for posting this, photographic history always interests me. The fact that you could take one hundred photographs is impressive.

  3. I wish that catchphrase still applied to today's camera's! I'm hopeless with (seemingly easy to others) technology. An interesting post, Rob. I'm learning all the time!!

  4. I relish the fish eye effect in the old photograph. I imagine $25.00 would have been a considerable sum of money at the time of the ad.


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