Kodak Instamatic

This is the first of a series of posts dedicated to the many cameras that I have owned over the years. While some of the posts may focus on my thoughts the camera itself, for others, I hope to dig up some remote memories and anecdotes from the time when I owned it.

Around about 1968, my parents gave my sister and I Kodak Instamatic cameras as Christmas presents, I was five years old and it was my first real camera. My dad was a keen photographer and had been using his Kodak Retina 1b since 1956 and mum also had a slightly more advanced Instamatic. We were a true Kodak family in those days. It took 126 cartridge film and I still remember the agonizing wait for the exposed films (12 exposures) to return from the developers. The pictures were square, but there were special offers at that time that would print a 4” print and two 2” prints of each image on a single 6”x4” print. I’ve no idea what the point was, but we thought it was cool at the time.

My first memory of actually using a camera is probably from the following spring or summer. I can remember that there had been few opportunities to use our Christmas present cameras up until then, so, at the first sign of some warmer weather, the whole family piled into our Vauxhall Viva and headed off to Arbroath on the Scottish east coast. It was lambing season. The fields were full of happy gambolling lambs. We soon pulled over for a photo opportunity. My sister and I stood, cameras at the ready, determined to get the shot and not waste any of our precious twelve exposures. Even in those days, I was already on the lookout for something different, something that would give my image a certain je ne sais quoi. The opportunity soon presented itself and I snapped my first masterpiece.

“Mummy, Mummy,” I said, tugging at her sleeve, “I took a photo of a lamb sitting down.”

“Lambs don’t sit down,” she answered patiently, “it must have been…”

Slowly, it dawned on me. I felt my face redden with embarrassment. My first photographic masterpiece. Indeed, the earliest photographic experience that I remember to this day, was of a sheep having a pee.