Kodak Moments lesson, technology wins again

Lyndsie Yamrus, Assistant Opinion Editor

“You press the button – we do the rest” promised George Eastman in 1888 with the introduction of the first roll-film camera.

The Kodak camera was priced at $25 and came pre-loaded with enough film exposure to produce 100 pictures. When the film was used up, the camera was sent back to the Easton Kodak Company, where it was developed and printed, re-loaded with film and mailed back to the customer for $10.

Kodak became the trusted name for capturing memories, creating different consumer photography products ranging from one-time-use cameras like the Kodak Funsaver to what Kodak claims to be the world’s first true color negative film, Kodacolor.

My Sony Cyber-shot digital camera requires me to also press the button, then attach the USB cable to the camera and computer and upload the pictures onto a picture-viewing platform. This is undoubtedly more convenient and perhaps easier than the Kodak method used 131 years ago, but they are now merely pixels on a computer screen. They can be printed at a nearby drugstore, but can also be Photoshopped, re-touched and enhanced with the click of a button.

Photo-sharing websites like Flickr display the amateur photography work of millions of users, and many of the photos are edited in one way or another.

The ever-popular iPhone offers the Instagram app, allowing users to apply filters to their photos to create vintage looks with their pictures.

Photographs are no longer authentic.

Digital cameras as we know them today have only been around since the beginning of the twenty-first century, but they have already lost their appeal to me. Anyone can go to Best Buy or other electronic distributor and purchase a digital camera for under $150 and be a “photographer”.

Photography is now mainstreamed, and there are even debates as to whether or not it should be referred to as an art. How can photography be an art if it requires little to no artistic skill? A perfect example would be Tumblr, a blogging website, where millions of users upload or “reblog” images they enjoy. From my experiences with Tumblr, many of the photos are creative, but many are imitative of others, thoughtless or inconsiderate to other individuals.  Some even appear as if the creator tried way too hard to be artistic.

Photographs are no longer original.

A sadder thought than the loss of authenticity and originality of photographs is that the Eastman Kodak Company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Thursday, Jan. 19 2012 due to its inability to successfully adapt to the increasing demands of our digital world.

Kodak has filed for business reorganization and aims to “build a company that will be successful in the marketplace.”

It is only a matter of time before Kodak and other classic film companies slip under altogether with the introduction of a new technological advancement in picture-taking.

We need to move forward, but remind ourselves of what got us here in the first place.