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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


  1. explorette


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

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  2. elo15e


    Lovely artwork! Thanks for posting - so gorgeous. For me, the VintageAdbrowser links don't work :)
    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  3. frau_zornies


    too cool! my favorite is "a vacation without a kodak is a vacation wasted"
    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  4. plasticpopsicle


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

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  5. natalieerachel


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

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  6. ipdegirl


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

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  7. ngjinglingfiona


    "The Witchery of Kodakery" !

    over 3 years ago · report as spam

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This is the original article written in: English. It is also available in: Deutsch, 中文(繁體版) & 한국어.