My first Camera
My first camera was a Kodak instamatic, a Christmas present from my parents when I was 12 years old. The instamatic Cameras went on sale already as early as 1963 and was an instant success. More than 50 million instamatic cameras were produced between 1963 and 1970. A great feature of these cameras was the easy-to-load film cartridge. The original cameras used 126-size cartridges, also known as Kodapak cartridges. Each cartridge had enough film for 12 or 20 exposures.
By 1976, when I got my camera, the instamatic X line was updated for use with the Flipflash system, but my camera was very basic, the 56 X, and I still had to use the flashcubes. These were disposable with four flashbulbs each with their own reflector. It had to be mounted on the top of the camera and after each flash exposure, the film advance mechanism rotated the flashcube 90 degrees to the new bulb. You were only able to take four images with one cube before inserting a new one.
My first Photoshoot
The first “photoshoot” I ever did was with my aunt’s camera that I borrowed for the afternoon. I was around 12 years old . My younger sister, aged 5 at the time, and her friend were my models.
The poses and shots had to be well planned and there could be only one shot per pose seeing as I only had a film cartridge of 24. Well actually with a film cartridge of 24, I was already over budget. When Desmond Stone announced the new Camera in 1963, and he wrote that the instamatic “will make picture taking easier than falling off a log”, he might have been right, but for middle class families, the cost of developing these photographs were not that cheap.
I was always told to think carefully before taking a photo.I knew in the back of my mind I would be in trouble if I used up the whole film that afternoon, but I really had so much fun, and before I knew it, it was done. I used up the whole cartridge.
Of course getting your film developed took about a week. Although this seems like a long time compared to the 1 hour service we have now, it was quite normal for us. Maybe the surprise after having waited such a period of time, made the excitement of going to collect the photographs so much bigger.
Even now, I never look at images on the same day of a shoot. Somehow I feel that my brain needs to reboot so that I could see the images with a fresh perspective.
A new way of looking at the world
Things have changed so much since the years of the instamatic. We are being exposed to photography on many different platforms than ever before and in a way, it’s become more difficult to show something that has not been seen before. Photographs taken with phone cameras have made it possible for us to show what we see, capture moments instantly and make artworks of everyday objects. Photography has become such a normal part of life. Now it’s not about what we see, but how we see.
Experiment and break the rules
If I think back to the time of the instamatic cameras, we would never have thought of photographing a plate of food, let alone your cup of coffee! How wonderful to think that children grow up with this privilege to experiment with photography and make us see the world through their eyes.
It is also true that there are many more photographers than during the pre-digital era, and yet they each have their own unique style. There is almost this feeling of freedom regarding what is considered good photography, as it has become the medium in which the photographer can push the boundaries and break the rules.
Treasure the instamatic era
I look back at the photographs of the times we used our instamatic cameras and the bad quality of the photographs compared to what we see now. But still, what we have now, would never have been possible if it were not for the instamatic era.