Life Of George Eastman Essay

2559 words - 11 pages

"George Eastman"George Eastman, founder of Eastman Kodak Company, made photography accessible to millions of people by mass manufacturing easy-to-use cameras and photographic products. Eastman innovations like cellulose roll film; the daylight-loading camera; and the Brownie, the worlds first snapshot camera made photography the 20th century's dominant art for and communication medium.A dedicated philanthropist, Eastman gave much of his fortune to establish hospitals, clinics, universities, museums, and performing arts centers. He created the first profit sharing plan, and provided employees with health and retirement benefits in an era when such policies were rare. Sadly, the man who ...view middle of the document...

00 a week. For the first time in his working life, he could afford more than the bare necessities. More importantly, he could afford to dream.Although he was a model employee, Eastman grew restless. After five years at the bank, he longed for a break from the gloomy monotony. In 1878 he read about the exotic island of Santo Domingo and was instantly infatuated. Golden beaches surrounded by coconut palms and warm lapping seas seemed just the antidote for his despair. A workmate suggested he invest in a wet-plate camera outfit so he could record his journey. Eastman thought this was a splendid idea and rushed out to purchase one.The camera and assorted darkroom equipment he lugged back to his mother's home was cumbersome and bulky. The camera alone was a big as a sea chest, and needed a heavy wooden tripod for support. Additionally, Eastman would have to carry pounds of chemistry equipment and a portable darkroom tent wherever he wanted to take photographs. The arrangement hardly seemed suitable for a paradise vacation to Santo Domingo.As Eastman became increasingly obsessed with his new hobby, he went on local expeditions to the countryside, carting what he called a "pack-horse load" of glass plates, plate holders, chemicals, developing tanks, and water. The Santo Domingo holiday was gradually forgotten as his fascination with photography grew. Ironically, the more he learned, the more photography frustrated him.Invented by British sculptor Fredrick Scott nearly 30 years before, collodion wet plates were the global standard. Although the method rendered brilliant negatives of stunning clarity on glass plates, collodion emulsions were exceedingly fragile and unstable. Plates had to be coated on the spot, exposed while still wet, and developed before their ether based emulsions evaporated. Surely there was an easier way to create photographs. Ever the student, he devoured photography journals in search of new methods and ideas. It was in a British magazine that he read an article, which changed the course of his life.Dr. Richard Leach Maddox, and English physician, was unhappy with the limitations wet plates photography imposed on his photo micrographic studies. In 1871 he invented the gelatin-bromide dry plate. Maddox's emulsions were stable and easy to store, so they could be developed long after exposure. While this was a benefit to the doctor's research, his emulsions were significantly less sensitive than wet plates and needed longer exposures. For this reason, photographers did not readily adopt them. Still, a few zealous amateurs tinkered with Maddox's formula and eventually, dry plate exposure time dropped to fractions of a second, allowing handheld cameras to be used for the first time.Eastman experimented with the Maddox based formulas and began making his own adaptations. He turned his mother's kitchen into a makeshift laboratory, working long hours after full days at the bank. Sometimes he became so exhausted he slept fully clothed on...

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