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Kodak Prepares to file Chapter 11

I’ve been reading that Kodak is preparing to file for bankruptcy protection.

And though I suppose it makes sense, as they’ve been unable to keep up with the digital photographic revolution, it’s going to be sad to see the old girl go.

My whole life, the name Kodak has been synonymous with photography. From the Super 8 movies my Dad shot of us as children, to the film and paper used for my high school pictures, to the Kodachrome slides I shot in the 90’s, Kodak has been with me the whole way.

Of course, the advent of the digital camera has seen the end to all that, and I knew in my heart when I bought my first digital camera – a Canon S10 Digital Elph with all of 2.1 Megapixels – that the day would come when ‘classic’ photography would go away.

Yes, there are still niche markets for things like reverse-engineered Polaroid film (The Impossible Project) and there are still people out there creating daguerrotypes, but the mainstream went digital years ago and there’s no going back.

One thing that’s changed and that most people don’t realize is why people take the pictures they take. I remember when ‘the camera’ only came out for special occasions like Christmas and birthdays, and of course you took it on vacation. Just about every picture of me as a child is of me at Christmas, on my birthday, or somewhere on vacation.

Comparing this to the pictures we have of our kids, all of which are digital, you can see a real difference. Sure, we have the birthday shots, and we have the Christmas shots, but we’ve also got loads of Easter shots, playtime shots, walking-down-the-street shots – we’ve got shots of the kids doing just about anything you can think of, and we’ve got thousands of them. Pushing the button on a digital camera costs nothing, so there’s no disincentive to taking another shot, or another 100 shots.  Though the subject of the photos is as important as it always was, the photograph itself is a worthless commodity item because it’s just so cheap to create.

Add to that the ever-decreasing price of global data transmission and you get services like Facebook. Yes, Facebook, where not only do I get to see pictures of what people are doing or where they are, I can easily see them while they’re still on the slopes or wherever it is they are while they’re still there.  It also lets me see critical things like what people are about to eat for dinner…or what their dog ate for dinner.

Because pictures are so cheap to create, we’re snapping the things at an alarming rate. I can’t find any numbers that look credible to me, but I don’t think it would come as a surprise to anyone if it were that 10 billion digital pictures were taken every day.

And because the things are so cheap to create, we don’t put the same value on them that we used to. Pictures are disposable things now – valueless things that exist only as a stream of digital bits – and that’s how we treat them.

I also worry about keeping our digital photo library backed up, but that’s another article.

It’s a real shame, too, because negatives and slides are tangible, valuable objects that have stood the test of time.  And you’ll never just stumble across a hard disk drive in a shoebox in the back of the closet.


Published inDeep ThoughtsSenseless RantsTechnology

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