Here at the Visual Resources Centre we love old black and white photographs. This post from the New York Times “Lens” blog talks about the fantastic collection of photographs submitted to “Kodak Picture Contests” during the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, which are now kept in the Department of Rare Books, Special Collections & Preservation of the Rush Rhees Library at the University of Rochester in New York State. The post has a slide show of some of the most interesting photos, and explains the background to those picture contests: Kodak was trying to encourage consumers to buy their cameras and film stock by organising the contests. It is a bit shocking to realise that at present the company are under bankruptcy protection.
The photographs are a fascinating record of life in the United States, and also some other parts of the world, during these three decades. Specially interesting are photographs of New York in the 1930s. The variety of subjects, and the technical competence of these amateur photographers are impressive. One could consider this archive of photographs from Kodak contests as an older and smaller equivalent of Flickr, recording everyday life of that period in all its richness.