LT 1.1 The history of the camera

LT 1.1 The history of the camera

«Throughout this lesson, you’ve learnt about the various inventors that contributed to the art of photography. Choose one, do some additional research and, in your own words, write a report on why you think the chosen inventor contributed to modern photography.

  • Explain your research and choice of inventor.
  • Elaborate on the inventor’s contribution/s.
  • Include any images which you think are necessary to explain your thought process.
  • Your final report should be 500 – 1000 words.«

After reading about different inventors who contributed to the art of photography, I chose to learn more about George Eastman as he really stood out since he was the one who made photography available to the masses and contributed to the foundation of the motion picture. 

George Eastman was born in Waterville, New York in 1854. His parents were Maria Eastman and George Washington Eastman who established Eastmans Commercial College. When Eastman was eight his father died of brain disorder which led to him dropping out of school at age 14 to help his mother bring money into the household. 

When Eastman was 23 years old he was supposed to go on a trip to Santa Domingo, and one of his colleagues advised him to bring a camera with him. He didn’t go on the trip but he bought the camera and all of the equipment. Eastman was having some issued with the weight of the big bulky camera, and also the cost of it and hassle of taking and developing the photographs. He felt like he could improve this, and after three years experimenting with different gelatin emulsions in his mother’s kitchen he came up with a dry-plate coating machine. 

A dry-plate is a glass plate that is coated with gelatin emulsion of silver bromide. This plate could be stored until exposure, and after exposure it could be brought back to a darkroom for development. This was an amazing invention as the wet collodion process who was the original idea, you had to prepare the plate just before exposure and have it developed immediately after. 

Eastman established the Eastman Dry Plate Company in 1881 which later became Eastman Kodak Company. The company created easy to use cameras that made photography more available to “regular people”. They also developed a flexible film that contributed to the motion picture industry. 

The Kodak camera launched a few years later and was the first camera with roll film, and it was very easy to use. The slogan was “You press the button, we do the rest”.  The cameras came with enough film to take 100 pictures. When the photographer was done taking pictures they sent the camera back to the factory for development and got the finished photographs back, and also the camera with a new film roll if they wanted to take more pictures. 

During his career he also donated a lot of money, over 100 million dollars to educational and art purposes, hospitals, dental clinics and charity organizations all over the world. 

In the late 20´s, George Eastman was diagnosed with a spinal disease, and because of this he ended his own life on March 14th 1932. He left a note that said “To my friends: My work is done. Why wait?” 



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