The Evolution of the Camera in 130 Years of Advertisements

People have been fascinated with photography since the first “shadow was fixed” in the early 1800s. Since the camera’s commercial introduction in 1839, rapid advancement in photographic technology has created a competitive market place in which camera companies must appeal to photographers both amateur and professional. At the turn of the last century, Kodak advocated that anyone could be a photographer, and by the end of the 20th century, cameras had become ubiquitous. A clear evolution in both technology and consumer attitudes towards photography can be seen through camera advertisements spanning the last 130 years. In the early days of amateur photography, advertisements concentrated on the camera’s ability to realize the photographer’s personal vision. Slogans focused on adventure and imagination, and the accompanying photographs made with the camera. In later years, advertisements highlighted the mechanical nature of photography and the various technological advances that set one particular model or brand apart from another. Our editors have culled a selection of ads to illustrate how our relationship to photographs has changed over time.

1888, Kodak

1899, Kodak

1909, Kodak

1917, Kodak

1919, Kodak

1920, Kodak

1930, AGFA Ansco

1946, Kodak

1954, General Aniline & Film Corporation

1957, Polaroid

1966, Rangefinder

1977, Kodak

1980, Nikon

1980, Pentax

1989, Nikon

1997, Minolta

1997, Polaroid

2010, Nikon

2010, Olympus