Summary

Kodak encouraged its employees to form camera clubs in its companies world-wide, as a strategy for promoting photography and the use of Kodak products. Many of Kodak Australasia’s employees were keen amateur photographers and joined the Kodak Camera Club in Melbourne. Some of them entered their work in the Annual Kodak International Salon of Photography.

Kodak encouraged its employees to form camera clubs in its companies world-wide, as a strategy for promoting photography and the use of Kodak products. Many of Kodak Australasia's employees were keen amateur photographers and joined the Kodak Camera Club in Melbourne. Some of them entered their work in the Annual Kodak International Salon of Photography.

Kodak Australasia employees ran a Kodak Camera Club the 1930s and 40s, (see for example HT 9049 Stuart J. Sanderson Trophy) but it seemed to have lapsed during World War II. It was revived by Roy Porter in the 1950s (Beale p.92, Porter). When Kodak opened its new Coburg factory in 1961, the company provided a meeting space, darkroom and equipment in Building 9, and donated photographic materials. Roy explains that boxes of products were opened and samples tested as part of Kodak's quality control program: 'Well once those boxes were opened of course they wouldn't go back to the public so we, as a camera club, would finish up with those open boxes of film or paper, or chemicals. Once they opened a can of chemicals of course there'd be a lot of waste, well we would use that with the company's blessing.'

The club held weekly meetings, sometimes listening to guest speakers on some aspect of photography. Roy remembers that the camera club played a special role at Kodak's annual Christmas party, with a member dressing up as Father Christmas: 'The Camera Club would photograph the children sitting on Santa's knee, and we would go into our darkroom and process that film and give them a photograph on the way out.'

The camera club ran regular photographic competitions for employees in its branches throughout Australia. Kodak donated the medals and prize money. The club liked to involve everyone, as one member Yvonne Cameron (formerly Welch) recalls: 'They put all the entries onto big display boards in the canteen, and people would come in to eat and walk through, and they would stop and look at all the prints.'

One year Yvonne was the proud winner of a medallion and $14 as first prize for her picture of a dog 'Trixie' in the slide section in 1966.

Kodak International Salon of Photography
Peter Hunter from the marketing department was active in the camera club, and entered the Kodak International Salon of Photography, a photographic competition open to all Kodak employees world-wide. In 1967 he won the George Eastman Memorial Medal: 'It's eighteen carat gold, so it's worth quite a bit isn't it? I was pretty proud of myself. I think that was something that made me important for the boss, who gave me a hundred dollars a year rise.'

Most of the interest in the Salon of Photography came from America, Canada, England, France Germany and Australia. The running of the competition was rotated among the different Kodak 'houses', as the national companies were called. It was part of Peter Hunter's job to organise the competition when it was Kodak Australasia's turn in the 1970s and 1980s: 'We had a big day of judging where we had leading photographers who would judge that. The catalogue would be printed, we actually spent quite a bit of money on it, because it was a prestige thing for Australia to do something as good as the French, or better than the Germans, that sort of thing. There were some very good entries. So then we could have a display of prints in the Kodak shop as it was in Collins Street Melbourne, and then in Sydney, in George Street there. Often those sets would go around to other places. And then they'd eventually get returned back to their makers in other countries.'

Peter continued his interest in the Kodak Camera Club after he retired in 1995, entering club competitions and giving guest lectures. 'And it was a nice social way of knowing what was going on'.

References
Beale, Nigel, 'The History of Kodak in Australia', 1983.
Yvonne Cameron, interviewed by Lesley Alves 27 February 2014
Peter Hunter, interviewed by Lesley Alves 20 February 2014
Roy Porter, interviewed by Lesley Alves 28 November 2013

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