Tag Archives: kodak camera collection

Learning a little Photographic History in Siouxland, W.H. Over Museum, Vermillion, SD

6 Dec

It’s hard not to appreciate the great strides that has occurred in photography in the last 15 years. And even more so in the last couple of centuries when photography was first invented. I recently spent some time with members of the Sioux City Camera Club as they visited with Lynn Muller, a former instructor at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD, as he gave us a personal tour of his most extensive collection of Kodak cameras and memorabilia.

Members of the Sioux City Camera Club are given a tour by Dr. Lynn Muller of his extensive Kodak camera and memorabilia collection at the W. H. Over Museum in Vermillion, SD Saturday, Nov. 17 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Mr. Muller has been collecting cameras for quite some time, and his knowledge of George Eastman and his quest to supply everyone with a camera is impressive and almost overwhelming. I previously visited with Mr. Muller and learned a lot then about his camera collection. This time I paid more attention to what he said about Mr. Eastman building his photographic empire. Inventing roll film to replace glass plates that made photography something many more people could do without worrying about knowing chemistry and accumulating the necessary items for printing as well as developing film. Mr. Muller taught marketing at USD so is in a good area to understand Mr Eastman’s approach to selling his photo memory pitch to the average family, and how it changed through the years.

Members of the Sioux City Camera Club are given a tour by Dr. Lynn Muller of his extensive Kodak camera and memorabilia collection at the W. H. Over Museum in Vermillion, SD Saturday, Nov. 17 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Camera Club easily spent a couple of hours viewing the collection and listening to the history, and then spent more time talking about the craft of photography over coffee and cookies. Even though the craft of photography and its tools has immensely changed in the last few years, it wouldn’t thrive without willing participants who like those that came before them are trying to improve their own photographic skills and use their cameras to explore their world around them.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Members of the Sioux City Camera Club are given a tour by Dr. Lynn Muller of his extensive Kodak camera and memorabilia collection at the W. H. Over Museum in Vermillion, SD Saturday, Nov. 17 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Members of the Sioux City Camera Club are given a tour by Dr. Lynn Muller of his extensive Kodak camera and memorabilia collection at the W. H. Over Museum in Vermillion, SD Saturday, Nov. 17 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

History of Photography in Siouxland, W H Over Museum, Vermillion, SD

25 Feb

When I am out surveying Siouxland, I am always happy with serendipitous encounters that allows me to find a unique place to visit and photograph. Such encounters can enrich one’s knowledge and makes visiting a place all the more enjoyable, such as the W.H. Over Museum in Vermillion, SD. Meeting Lynn Muller, owner of an extensive collection of Kodak cameras, which in itself is a history of photography in America.

Camera collector Lynn Muller talks about his extensive collection of Kodak cameras as well as some other brands he also collected at the W. H. Over Museum in Vermillion, SD Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

George Eastman created an empire built on encouraging people to take photographs. Muller was gracious enough to take some time to show me his collection and talk about the history of Kodak. He explained he became interested in photography during the Vietnam war. An art student, he said there wasn’t the ability to have paints, an easel or canvas, so he picked up a camera. He began his collecting in 1971 and that still continues today.

Camera collector Lynn Muller said many of the original Brownie cameras sold for only a dollar, making them accessible to many more people, especially families, as they recorded daily life which made the brand extremely popular. His extensive collection of Kodak cameras as well as some other brands are on display at the W. H. Over Museum in Vermillion, SD Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Muller’s collection includes many examples of the Brownie camera, the first product Eastman mass produced, convincing the American public that it should photograph everyday events in the lives of its family to remember those moments.

Camera collector Lynn Muller said Kodak founder George Eastman was very good at marketing which helped propel his company and cameras to the top of the the consumer wants list as he talks about his extensive collection of Kodak cameras as well as some other brands at the W. H. Over Museum in Vermillion, SD Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An early era instruction manual that came with a Kodak No. 3 folding camera that is part of Lynn Muller’s extensive collection of Kodak cameras as well as some other brands at the W. H. Over Museum in Vermillion, SD Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

He explained that Eastman also saw the opportunity of promoting this “hobby” to women, utilizing a marketing campaign to show them as independent people.

Kodak camera collector Lynn Muller said that George Eastman, founder of Kodak, was a master in marketing and targeted women in many campaigns that helped the brand become popular. Muller has an extensive collection of Kodak cameras on display at the W. H. Over Museum in Vermillion, SD Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The breadth and depth of Muller’s collection is breathtaking, and if one calls ahead to the museum, it is possible to schedule time with Muller for him to explain the history of Kodak and many other camera brands of which he also collects. Therein lies my serendipitous moment when museum personnel let me into the special section holding the collection, Mr. Muller happened to stop by. It’s amazing to see all of the cameras, but no less amazing to hear him talk about Eastman and his rise to being a leading figure in photography, inventing the use of roll film rather than glass plates for taking pictures. And creating a smaller camera body as opposed to the larger cameras used by the likes of Matthew Brady and other early photographic pioneers thus bring photography to the masses. The first cameras contained a roll film with 100 exposures and cost about $25.00. Eastman brought the photographic experience to the masses and soon everyone was taking photographs to commemorate some aspect of their life or family’s life.

And it was fun to learn this history in Siouxland, without having to travel to New York state and visiting the museum in Rochester. Although that would be a nice trip for any photography buff. And as much as I like serendipity when I photograph, I don’t mind it at all when it happens in life as well.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

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