The beginning of the article explains how collodion wet plates were replaced by dry plates in 1871 which made it possible to mass produce the plates and sell them pre-processed. George Eastman however saw there was no monopoly potential in dry plates and was set out to invent a complete system of roll film, roll film holder for cameras and film making machinery and patented their work in 1885. Later on they provided the Enlarging and Printing Department. Ultimately, the Kodak camera was responsible for the rise in amateur photography’s popularity, allowing white-collar middle-class domestic usage. It became cheap, and required almost no skill. Photography became less of a specialized activity because developing prints was no longer done by the photographer.
Kodak advertisements were crucial in formulating what cameras were used for (what types of things were to be photographed). Publications were made to facilitate the campaign for instance “At Home with the Kodak”, “Kodakery” and a program called “The Kodak Hour”. Women were most often shown in Kodak advertisements, and eventually became the curators of the family photo album. And perhaps the most defining element of Kodak was that “user-generated content” was allowed, as opposed to hiring a professional but not acquainted person to take photos.
As technologies of printing became faster and cheaper (i.e. halftone printing), books and newspapers began to include more photographs, and the printing of magazines became possible for the first time.
Photographic technology advanced in many ways between 1888 and 1990 such as better lenses, automatic light and distance metering just to name a few. However the consumer technology and business model of cameras remained largely similar.
The invention of the Polaroid camera in 1947 allowed instantaneous photography. Meaning photographs were no longer meant to be objects of past memories but “instant fossilization of the present”. It was advertised to be fun and social and got cheaper for the baby boomer generation. Polaroid and Kodak since then became competitors.
Kodak’s introduction of color negatives allowed the color film motion picture industry to be a lucrative business. This eventually led to the introduction of 126-cartridge and the “wars” between Kodak and Japanese camera companies. Kodak ultimately lost (because they changed film formats and angered the photo-finishing industry).
The article ends by mentioning the transition from film to digital cameras and the widespread use of camera phones.