Monday, December 28, 2015


Kodakery, a monthly magazine for amateur photographers first appeared in 1913. Single copies cost five cents, and a dollar would get you a two-year subscription. While the publication was clearly a vehicle for advertising Kodak products, it also contained a lot of useful information for the photo enthusiast. Each issue was twenty-five or thirty pages in length, with about equal space allotted to text and photo reproductions. The design and layout of the publication was spare and elegant.

There were technical articles in Kodakery aimed at the advanced amateur on subjects like film and print processing. Most of editorial content, however, was less demanding, and focused on how best to compose pictures of subjects likely to be of interest to the average person who was mostly interested in recording events and scenes of daily living. Portraits of family members, pets, and children got attention in every issue, as did subjects like garden flowers, travel, sports, marine and snow scenes. While many of the published photos had a rather bland look by today's standards, all were technically excellent and clearly made by people who were advanced amateurs or professionals. None of the featured photographers, however, were big-name artists of the time.

A couple pages at the magazine's beginning and four or five at the end were typically devoted to advertising – only for Kodak products. The company's capacity for technical research, camera making, and a near monopoly on film production gave it tremendous market leverage. Marketing was conducted through franchises to small shops like drug stores and photo equipment specialty shops, and was supported by expertly coordinated advertising campaigns in Kodakery and elsewhere. Kodakery ads seemed to exclusively feature domestically made products from the massive Rochester, NY establishment. However, though it was not apparent in the pages of Kodakery, the company very early on also was engaged in developing overseas markets and production capabilities, an effort which included the acquisition of promising innovative companies like the Kodak A.G. Dr.NagelWerk in Stuttgart which developed the stunningly successful 35mm film cassette. The end result for Kodak was an industry-dominant position very much resembling that of Microsoft or Google today.

Pictures of children, pets and women engaged in idyllic domestic activities were most likely to find their way onto Kodakery's covers. The children were sometimes pictured wielding cameras - a clear allusion to the Kodak message that it made photography easily accessible to anyone. Women were also frequently shown using Kodak cameras to record family life. The magazine also featured frequent shots of smiling young women in dramatic poses, wearing stylish clothing at the beach or in some exotic location like a cruise liner. Those same images, resembling fashion shots, over time became very prominent in Kodak advertising presentations.

Kodakery, Volumes 1-12 can be found on line at the mcnygenealogy site along with other Kodak publications.  Beginning in 1943 the "Kodakery" title was used for the in-house publication for Kodak employees.

(This article was originally posted on my web site.)


beedle bumble said...

Great info, must look out for this book in the UK :0)

Mike said...

Copies of Kodakery show up pretty often on ebay. I think I paid just a couple bucks for two or three examples.

beedle bumble said...

Many thanks Mike I will have a look there..