PITTSTON — You push the button, we do the rest.
It was Eastman Kodak Company founder George Eastman’s rallying cry to photographers, and it drove decades of profitable ventures as photo and video grew in ease and accessibility.
Forty years ago, the Kodak brand drew the attention of Pittston resident and photography enthusiast Ralph Minella. After years of collecting items, mostly from estate sales, the 60-year-old wants to donate a sizable portion of his Kodak-branded lot to an institution for public display.
“To have something forever, to freeze something in time, that was Eastman’s idea,” Minella said. “What’s the purpose of a museum? To keep art and preserve it so the public can always appreciate it. To freeze something in time.”
Minella is parting with seven cameras, including a cardboard Brownie, the model responsible for the idea of a snapshot in photography. The collection also features over 20 canisters of film stock containing parades, vacations and family functions.
He’s also offering up his entire collection of slides — his favorite piece of Kodak history.
“Slides are beautiful because slides have clarity,” Minella said.
A look through Minella’s slides tells the story of the family from whom he purchased them. Images from Holland, Switzerland and Paris chronicle a trip through Europe, while wedding slides capture a bride on her special day. The collection consists of snapshots from a certain time and place, but the entirety of Minella’s collection is its own snapshot, both of Kodak and 20th century Americana.
Kodak became part of that Americana by promoting photography as a lifestyle, and Minella’s collection contains clipped ads that relay the message, along with picture-taking manuals for older model cameras. As the cameras evolved, the marketing and manuals became one, culminating in a monthly subscription program called the Kodak Club.
Members of the club received a binder to house monthly magazines sent by Kodak. Minella has a number of examples in his collection.
“Every month, you’d receive different things, guides on shooting in black and white and color, tips on technique,” Minella said.
Minella’s collection is rounded out by a small amount of unused film and how-to photography books. He said he would entertain offers from private collectors for the whole lot, but that’s not what he has his heart set on.
“I’m still pushing for the institution so people will see them, their kids will see them, their grand kids will see them,” Minella said. “You’ll always have this. It’s frozen in time.”
Interested in Minella’s collection? Reach Gene Axton at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @GeneAxtonTLcomments powered by Disqus