The Rise of Black-and-White and Color Photography
Karen Utter Jennings
After the turn of the twentieth century, the art of photography grew steadily. George Eastman founded the new age of photography with black-and-white snapshots. Brownie box cameras were easy to use and cheap to buy. It was the beginning of a new way for people to try their hand at taking photographs. In 1900, a quarter of a million Kodak Brownie cameras sold for one dollar each.
With the simple cameras in the hands of more people, photography studios and
travelling photographers had competition. Autochrome photographs were taken from 1904 to the late 1930s and these are identified by their shades of gray and sepia tones. They may appear to be faded and hard to identify backgrounds and details. Use care when handling these old photos.
During the early years color photography remained a commercial undertaking for trained photographers only. Color paper prints were produced from 1941 to the present. The Kodak Company introduced Kodachrome 16mm movie film in 1935 and negative film became available from Kodak in 1941. Eventually, Polaroids were popular due to the ability to snap a photo and wait while it developed inside the camera.
From 1948 to about 1965, many early cameras were used with roll film. The different types of film produced different sizes of photos. Many of those types of film were discontinued in the last few years.
As the years passed and we entered the twenty-first century, photography continues to be a popular and special hobby as well as a profitable business. Digital photography is one of the most-loved ways to take family photographs.
Today’s cameras are high-tech devices offering multiple advanced features that guarantee amateurs a perfect photograph. Photographers can do it all: preview the shots as you go and discard the bad ones, shoot an endless number of pictures then save and store them on small SD cards, then upload to computers and print your prized possessions.
The old black-and-white and color photographs are the basis of family photograph collections. Since these prints often fade in time, the best way to preserve them before they do fade is to scan all your photographs to media storage and then keep the originals in a cool, dark and low-humidity environment.
Storage of photos includes websites where you can upload all your photographs and retrieve copies of them whenever you need to do so. There are multiple online websites to help you create photo books, also.
Many times family researchers digitize their photographs and put them on media such as CDs and flash drives and camera cards to share with family members. This is the new era
In many family photograph collections, there are torn, faded, cracked and worn pictures. Besides taking your photos to a specialist who can restore them to their original likeness, there are scores of computer software you can purchase to help you do it yourself. Adobe Photoshop Elements is one of them. There are other programs you can purchase as downloads or buy the program and place it on your computer yourself. Do your research; talk with people who own such software before you make your decision. They can be pricey.
The old black-and-white and color photographs are the bulk of my own family photograph collection. They are dear to my heart. In many of them I can identify everyone in the photograph, and date the time and place it was taken.
I caution you about using the date stamped at the bottom or the side of the photograph. It does not always mean that is when the photograph was taken; it only dates when the film was developed. Many people waited, sometimes for years, before they took their film rolls in to be developed.
Go through your own photograph collection and begin sorting, labeling, and organizing them. You will be happy you did!