George Eastman – Father of Popular Photography

Day 84 of Colourisation Project – July 30

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.

It was on this day, July 30, 1928 that George Eastman, the founder the Eastman Kodak Company, held a garden party at his home in Rochester, New York, to herald the birth of Kodacolor, the first amateur color home movie system. The party was grand and the guest list long.  Everyone from scientists and educators to community leaders and members of the media, was invited to the party.

Eastman and Thomas Edison, who collaborated on the invention of motion picture film, stood side-by-side in the Terrace Garden filming their guests during the event.  After dinner, screens were erected and the new Kodacolor images shot earlier that day were projected. You can enjoy this fascinating piece of history here on this video, produced for the George Eastman House Museum of Photography & Film in Rochester, N.Y., where the original film footage is archived.

George Eastman

Published by B. C. Forbes Publishing Company, New York, –  George Eastman 1917  –  Coloured by Loredana Crupi

Born July 12, 1854, Waterville, New York, Eastman was an entrepreneur, an inventor, a marketer, a global visionary and a philanthropist. Eastman was also an avid amateur photographer. He turned his hobby into a business which in turn helped to promote amateur photography on a large scale. Kodak the company was born in 1888 when the first Kodak camera entered the market.  Eastman brought photography to the mainstream with the catchy advertising slogan, “You press the button, we do the rest.”

By his mid-twenties, Eastman who had been a high school dropout had become a successful entrepreneur leading his Eastman Kodak Company to the forefront of American industry. He was not however the stereotypical corporate industrialist. He could see the benefits of implementing a radically new business concept of profit sharing as an incentive with his employees. His generosity of spirit which encouraged longevity and loyalty in those who worked for him, extended to stock options and outright gifts of money to each of his workers.

In 1924 Eastman gave away half his fortune. His gifts, which totaled more than $75 million, went to such beneficiaries as the University of Rochester (of which the Eastman School of Music is a part) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It is has been estimated that Eastman contributed more than $100 million of his wealth for philanthropic purposes during his lifetime.

Eastman suffered from lumbar spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal which led to considerable back pain and which made walking difficult. This disability led to depression. On March 14th, 1932 at the age of 77, he took his own life by firing a single gunshot through his heart, leaving behind a suicide note which read,

“To my friends, my work is done. Why wait? GE”


“The idea gradually dawned on me that what we were doing was not merely making dry plates, but that we were starting out to make photography an everyday affair…to make the camera as convenient as the pencil.” George Eastman

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