Abstract: The Eastman Kodak Company: Shaping Networks, Shaping Consumers between 1895-1915

Shannon Perry

Abstract

Between the years 1895 and 1915 the Eastman Kodak Company of Rochester N.Y. radically transformed the photographic industry on an increasingly international scale. They established over 30 Kodak-branded storefronts, purchased over another 35 independent manufacturers and distributors, and secured countless  preferred dealers across the globe. They transitioned the market from one dominated by primarily niche or specialty manufacturing and distributors, to one controlled by a single multi-national corporation, with lasting, ultimately negative repercussions in the 21st century. In doing so, Kodak established themselves as the leader in the international photographic market, but also actively shaped how people purchased supplies and ultimately, helped shape the idea of amateur photographic practice and consumption.

Historians have drawn upon the resulting amateur images to help explain our changing society, but haven’t looked at the source behind the creators. Unquestioned is how the supplies and suppliers of the materials impacted the creation of the images themselves. This paper begins to draw attention to how the business of photography shaped the art and everyday practice by examining the pattern of increasingly international expansion by the Eastman Kodak Company in the early days of the twentieth century.