My first camera – a Kodak Instamatic 104

Kodak has been in the news recently because its days as a viable company are nearly over.

My first camera was a Kodak Instamatic 104 given to me by my grandparents in Victoria for my 10th birthday.  This present started my interest in photography and using a camera to record my daily experiences as well as my travels and holidays.

The Instamatic camera used a film cartridge (the 126 format cartridge) of 12 or 24 exposures. I used black and white film as color prints were quite expensive, however I did use Kodachrome color slide film several years later.

Looking over my album, most of the photos are of my family, pets and animals on my grandparent’s farm in Victoria, friends, and a few holiday destinations. I am glad that I took photos of people as these are extremely valuable connections with the past. I only wish I had taken more photos, but the constraint was the cost of processing the films.

Once I had been given a camera, I must have been given a photo album, clear mounting stickers to mount the photos, and more films.

It is interesting to compare these photos from the past to modern digital photos shared on Facebook, Flickr and email attachments. Each Kodak photo was a special occasion for a photograph and the subjects are usually formally posed.

This is the first photo in the album, taken on the tennis court at my grandparents’ farm in Geelong. The net is quite dilapidated and the surface of the court was damaged by the roots of the tall cypress trees seen in the background. My brother is holding a racket – my mother in the background, her sister (my aunt) kneeling and my cousin Fiona.

The composition is not too bad but I hadn’t thought of asking them to pose in front of the damaged part of the net!

One of the dangers of being the photographer is not getting many photos of yourself. At least I have a photo taken on my birthday, and I assume my father took the picture.

This is my birthday party. Notice the bright reflection of the flash in the window.

The Instamatic camera had special flashcubes which could only be used four times. After you pressed the shutter, the cube rotated 90 degrees ready for the next cube. You had to make sure the flash cube was attached properly otherwise the photo would be wasted.

One of the downsides of this old style photography (compared to digital) was that each print was almost like a special artefact. If extra copies were needed, the negatives had to be taken to the chemist where I usually dropped off the films for processing.  As well as keeping photos in albums, I kept the negatives in the Kodak folder.

Photographs are a wonderful record of our lives and I would encourage you to print your best digital photos each month and write notes, names and places because in the years to come your memory will fade and details will be lost.

Here is a photo taken on the Christmas morning of my 10th year.


Author: charuzu

I live in Sydney and interests include music, piano playing, technology, cooking, English language, public speaking, Toastmasters, Asian culture (especially Japan and Korea), cinema, personal development, productivity and making friends with people from around the world.

5 thoughts on “My first camera – a Kodak Instamatic 104”

  1. The photo at the top of the article is not my camera, but a picture I found on the web. I must have thrown my Instamatic away when i was about 17 because then I had started using a Minolta 35mm SLR camera.

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