I’ve read a lot about the history of photography from the early 19th century to the present it was through that study that I came, somewhat belatedly, to appreciate deeply the role of George Eastman and his company Kodak in that history. I was never a Kodak fanboy, but of course knew the name and the film, especially since one of my uncles lived in Windsor, Colorado, home to one of Kodak’s plants, which was the lifeblood of that small town but has now dwindled to practically nothing as part of its land was recently sold for an industrial park development. I remember my uncle cursing me for once having Fuji film with me — simply not allowed in Windsor.
Well, I just finished reading a few stories online this evening about the rise — and now fall — of the iconic photography company. They all sounded like obituaries. A previous post of mine talked about Kodak’s efforts to sell some of its 1,100 patents to raise necessary cash to keep afloat; well, it looks like those efforts have not paid off quickly enough because it was reported today that Kodak is preparing to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection if it can’t sell those patents in the next few weeks. Chapter 11 would then likely provide for a court-monitored auction for the patents, which in turn might be able to bring Kodak back from the dead in a restructuring — and maybe turn my 250 shares of EK stock around. Yes, even as I knew that it looked as if Kodak was in a death spiral, sentimental me purchased my first stocks ever online last week — 200 shares at $0.67/share. After news got out about Chapter 11, the share price plummeted to around $0.44/share, at which point I bought 50 more and watched the price rise to about $0.52 before settling back down to around $0.46. I think I lost all of $40 in the process — sentimentality never made anyone rich. Still, I don’t at all regret the purchase. As a photaku who appreciates the history of photography, it seems fitting , as a kind of parting gift, to have some small — and increasingly smaller — part in the company’s 131-year history.
I hope Kodak can somehow turn it around and remain viable, and not so that I don’t lose my $150 of stock. It would be sad to see such an important pioneer in photography to pass away in the wake of the “digital revolution.” I would personally feel the absence since it was, after all, the Brownie Hawkeye Flash I inherited from my late father several years ago that is largely responsible for my current interest in film photography. It was the first camera after many years of digital that I loaded with a roll of film one day just to see if it still worked — and it did, wonderfully. That led to more film cameras and the building of pinhole cameras until most recently I’ve been doing 8×10 pinhole shots with an old (1930s?) Kodak 2D View camera. I kind of wish I hadn’t sold my 1930s Kodak Monitor now. But I do have a couple Brownies and now plan to get some more. It won’t raise Kodak’s bottom line, but it will keep an anachronism alive….
Musings & Experiments
- Collodion Bastards and the Indian Connection
- R.B. Graflex Series D Lens Catalog
- The R.B. Graflex Series D Restoration Project
- Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day 2012
- It’s Official: I’m a Large Format Whore
- A New “Book” Project?
- No Longer a Kodak Shareholder
- Kodak Restructures and Brings My Shares Back to Break Even
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