Vintage Kodak Ads: Life Before Slick Ads and Cameras


What did photography ads look like before advertising agencies and fancy cameras? Pretty amazing and artful, it turns out.

Pick up any modern photography magazine and there are tons of ads for everything from filters, tripods and lenses to backpacks, backdrops and workshops. It got me thinking, what did ads look like before the advent of glamorous technology and slick advertising?

From the website VintageAdBrowser, I went to the photography section to see what I could find. Starting in the 1880’s, the majority of the ads were from Kodak and some had some really stunning artwork. There were even a few ads in french!

After a few decades, Kodak had become a household name because of their cameras and through ads like these, no doubt.

They speak of abolishing the darkroom (gasp!!) in these ads.

Since Kodak had become synonymous with photography, the company began to play around with their name, making Kodak into a verb and even describing the magic of their cameras as ‘witchery’. I love these ads.

No one was immune in these ads, not even children. This looks to me like the birth of the camera as a toy.

Curiously enough, many of the ads targeting children seemed directed at boys, like this one

However, most of the ads for adults seem aimed at women

I love the last ad because that’s what I look like developing my film in the kitchen, too, but minus the apron and fancy dress.

In a world where we depended much more on ourselves to provide our own food through farming and hunting Kodak wanted to be there. This last set of ads from that era of history really tickled my funny bone. Who’d think of looking for a camera in the Sporting Goods section?

I’m going to search for more of these vintage beauties so be on the lookout for more from me soon!


written by ipdegirl on 2011-09-20 in #news #vintage #hobby #film #photography #kodak #cameras #ads #analogue #news #ipdegirl


  1. explorette
    explorette ·

    Haha the last picture represents my favorite saying! "pics or it didn't happen!!" :D

  2. elo15e
    elo15e ·

    Lovely artwork! Thanks for posting - so gorgeous.
    For me, the VintageAdbrowser links don't work :)

  3. frau_zornies
    frau_zornies ·

    too cool! my favorite is "a vacation without a kodak is a vacation wasted"

  4. plasticpopsicle
    plasticpopsicle ·

    Hello @elo15e! The VintageAdBrowser links are working now! You can go ahead and check it out!

  5. natalieerachel
    natalieerachel ·

    Love these!! I wishthey still made ads like these...

  6. ipdegirl
    ipdegirl ·

    Glad you all thought these were as cool as I did ;)

  7. ngjinglingfiona
    ngjinglingfiona ·

    "The Witchery of Kodakery" !

More Interesting Articles

  • Behind the Picture: Thomas J. Wynne's Studio

    written by lomographymagazine on 2015-08-20 in #people
    Behind the Picture: Thomas J. Wynne's Studio

    This treasure shows not just what photography looked like but also what a pro did to promote it around town.

  • Light is Magical: A Talk With Li Hui

    written by jennifer_pos on 2015-04-10 in #people #news #lifestyle
    Light is Magical: A Talk With Li Hui

    Photography is not only an act of documentation or communication, it is also a way of seeing the world. The camera opens our eyes and lets us see what lies behind the obvious, and we start looking at things as potential subjects of a photograph. Every leak of light unveils secrets that talented photographers turn into a piece of art. Li Hui is one of those gifted artists. We talked to her about her work and her sensitive photographs that picture a wonderful vulnerability.

  • How to Change Lenses with the Diana Baby 110

    written by chooolss on 2014-12-14 in #lifestyle #videos
    How to Change Lenses with the Diana Baby 110

    It might not look like it, but the Diana Baby 110 is definitely more than it lets on. For example, did you know that you can alternate using 12mm and 24mm lenses with it? Find out how in this tutorial!

  • Shop News

    Standard Photo Development Services

    Standard Photo Development Services

    Done shooting and want your films to be processed? We can process your colour and black & white 35mm, 120 or 110 films! Development, prints and scans are also included. (Service availability depends on your markets)

  • Going Monochrome with the Lomo'Instant

    written by bgaluppo on 2015-06-26 in #gear
    Going Monochrome with the Lomo'Instant

    If you've ever used the Lomo'Instant camera, you know that the Fujifilm Instax Mini film ensures amazing and sharp results with vivid colors and natural skin tones. And although we love it the way it is, we also love to experiment. This time we ventured out with monochrome on our minds and got some pretty crazy results — check it out!

  • Total Eclipse of the Sun Competition

    written by jacobs on 2015-03-20 in #gear #news #competitions
    Total Eclipse of the Sun Competition

    Did you catch the solar eclipse that happened recently? Word on the street is that it even resulted in a total eclipse in some areas of Europe, making it a pretty rare occasion for the folks that got to see it! We're guessing that some of you even had your cameras to catch the whole shebang on film — which is why we're throwing a competition for the best eclipse and sun inspired shots out there. Come on in and check out the details!

  • Fulfilling Dreams with Dreamy Images: Kevin Biberbach

    written by zonderbar on 2015-08-31 in #people
    Fulfilling Dreams with Dreamy Images: Kevin Biberbach

    In every aspiring photographers' dream - Turn the hobby into career, leaving the part time job, putting all of the efforts into one's photography project. Kevin Biberbach did it. Biberbach is a student from Aachen, who has completed a 365-day photography project called "EVRY DAY" with his passion and insist. The project is widely getting attention throughout the internet, which includes a variety of portraits content such as wedding, family and couples. Biberbach shared to Lomography exclusively about his work, passion to photography, and also his experience with the Petzval 85 Art Lens.

  • Shop News

    Immortalize your best shot on Aluminium!

    Immortalize your best shot on Aluminium!

    Carefully enlarged from your negatives onto premium photographic paper by lab professionals, each picture is a unique piece of craftsmanship.

  • Through the Dollhouse with Melanie Martinez

    written by mindofmyra on 2015-05-04 in #people #lomoamigos
    Through the Dollhouse with Melanie Martinez

    Melanie Martinez is a woman of many talents. Not only is she a unique singer and songwriter, but she is also an avid photographer who captures the tour life from a perspective like no other. It's time to share the special moments of her Dollhouse Tour and to figure out what makes her mind tick.

  • When Two Legends Meet: User Review of Leica M3 Camera with Petzval Art Lens

    written by candilsw on 2015-05-21 in #gear #lifestyle #reviews
    When Two Legends Meet: User Review of Leica M3 Camera with Petzval Art Lens

    With a love of antique cameras and analogue photography, Shawn Lin has long been an active member of the Lomography Community with dozens of his shots being featured. Shawn likes to explore the effects of double exposure on different themes and objects, with an emphasis on the presentation of colours. Come take a look of his work of using Petzval Art Lens on his antique camera and his thoughts about the two!

  • Thinking Out of the Box with the Holga Out of the Box Competition

    written by givesmehell on 2015-05-18 in #world #competitions
    Thinking Out of the Box with the Holga Out of the Box Competition

    One of the best things about film photography, especially with cameras like the Holga and Lomography cameras, is getting creative with it! TCC Photo is hosting a competition to stoke the creativity out of film photographers everywhere and urge participants to think out of the box!

  • Shop News

    Get a Perfect Instant Selfie with Fuji Instax Mini 70!

    Get a Perfect Instant Selfie with Fuji Instax Mini 70!

    Get the perfect self-portraits or group photos with your friends with this instant camera! This camera allows you to be picture ready with its mirror next to the lens and gives you an idea where is best to smile!

  • Marvelous LC-A 120 Photographs from the Community

    written by chooolss on 2014-12-19 in #lifestyle
    Marvelous LC-A 120 Photographs from the Community

    Lomography has previously shown you the kind of shots that one could take with the new Lomo LC-A 120. Now, with the first batch already shipped out and arriving to their lucky owners, it's the community's turn to show everyone what they've been shooting with this awesome camera!

  • A Collection Of Awesome Konstruktor Snapshots

    written by shhquiet on 2015-04-10 in #gear #lifestyle
    A Collection Of Awesome Konstruktor Snapshots

    There's nothing more satisfying than taking fantastic photos with a camera that you built yourself. If you've always wanted to impress your friends with your mad DIY skills, pick up a Konstruktor Camera Kit and show them what you've got! It's also a cool way to get them into Lomography, because as you build the camera you'll discover how analogue photography works. Oh, and the Konstruktor takes gorgeous photos, too - check out the gallery and see what we mean!

  • Take a Peek Through The ONDU Pinhole

    written by shhquiet on 2015-03-17 in #gear #news
    Take a Peek Through The ONDU Pinhole

    Have you ever tried going lens-less when taking a photo? Try shooting with ONDU Pinhole Cameras and see what it's like to take photos through a tiny pinhole. Check out these lovely shots taken by Lomographers; if you do have some ONDU pinhole photos of your own, upload and tag them accordingly so that we can see them!