martegranlund oktober 17, 2021

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George Eastman and Thomas Edison demonstrating a camera at Kodacolor Party 1928. Source: George Eastman Museum (

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.

George Eastman (1854-1932) was an American entrepreneur and dry-plate manufacturer who founded the Eastman Kodak Company, that we know as Kodak today.

Who was George Eastman?

Eastman was born in Waterville, New York in before his parents and to siblings moved to Rochester, New York when he was five years old. His family became financially distressed when his father passed, and George continued school until he was 14 and had to find employment, due to his family circumstances.

Why photography?

He became completely absorbed in photography and simplifying the process after he bought a wet plate camera when he was 24, after a colleague suggested that he brought a camera to a vacation to Santo Domingo. After reading about gelatin emulsions, he experimented with his own emulsion formula in his mother´s kitchen at night while working in a bank during the day.

Eastman developed a formula that worked after three years of experimenting. He also patented a machine for preparing large number of dry plates, after recognizing the possibility of making and selling dry plates to other photographers.

The beginning of Kodak

In 1881 Eastman and his investor Henry A. Strong formed a partnership called Eastman Dry Plate Company. He continued to research how to simplify photography. The partnership was later reincorporated as the Eastman Dry Plate and Film Company in 1884 and as Eastman Kodak Company in 1892.

George Eastman also developed a roll holder for negatives together with William H. Walker in 1885. This has been seen as the beginning of a revolution in photography and allowed cameras to be both smaller and cheaper.

With a series of innovations, the company created easy-to-use cameras that made photography widely accessible, established the practice of professional photofinishing, and developed a flexible film that was a critical contribution to the launch of the motion picture industry (

Why Kodak?

Eastman believed that products that should have their own identity, and didn´t want his company to be associated with himself. K because it was his favorite letter, and he wanted a name that would be possible to pronounce in all languages.

The first Kodak camera was launched in 1888 with the company slogan “You press the button, we do the rest”. The camera was sent back into the company after using the 100 exposures included in the built-in film roll. Kodak developed the film and negatives and sent it back to the customers.

Kodak Brownie Camera by Håkan Svensson.

The Brownie Camera

Launched in 1900, the Brownie Camera targeted new hobbyist photographers and children with its $1 price tag and became a success. Even though it was marketed for children, professional photographers also but the camera to use.

Eastman believed that his cameras attracted two types of photographers; people who just wanted the photo as a memory and were not interested in everything else and learning more about photography (basically extended to a target group existing of almost every human being on the planet) or amateur photographers willing to spend both time and money on learning the art of photography.

How Eastman contributed to modern photography

Eastman´s innovations made the camera and photography accessible for ordinary people and started the amateur photography rage that is still going strong today in the modern world. His idea of simplifying the art of photography and cameras is still a big part of the photography world today, where everyone that wants can pick and choose between different cameras, depending on your experience, preferences, style, or expression.