American Boys Activities: Photography

Figure 1.--Here we see two American boys with cameras. One looks to be a Brownie and the other some kind of relex camera. The photograph is undated, but we would guess was taken in the 1910s. The boys seem to be about 12 or 13 years old. They are probably two friends whose hobby was taking photographs. Perhasps they belonged to some sort of camera club. They may be on some sort of outing. Note the rural, wooded setting. The boy on the left seems to be wearing an athletic jersey of some sort (note the intitials F.H. on his chest--perhaps the abbreviation for a school). It is also possible that they may be at a summer camp. One boy wears unusually long knee pants that come down well over his knees. These are almost like modern sweat pants that have been cut off below the knees. But he wears the traditional long stockings (apparently black). His friend is more dressed up, wearing a double breasted above-the-knee knicker suit with black stockings. But the boy in the suit seems to have no formal shirt under his jacket. Perhaps he also wears an athletic jersey, although I don't think it was common to combine athletic jerseys with suits. The combination of clothing here is a bit difficult to explain.

American boys took a great interest in photography. Kodak seized on this interest and featured boy photographers in some of their advertising. We seen large numbers of images of boys with cameras, especially after 1990 when Kodak introduced the simple to use and relatively inexpensive Brownie. Boys didn't want to just be photographed, they wanted to do some of the photography. Some girls were also interested, but boys were interested to a fr greater extent. Of course a social class factor was involved here. While the Brownie made photography relatively inexpesive, it still was not cheap and thus the interest in photography was most pronounced among comfortable middle class families and affluent damilies. The available images show both fashion trends over time as well as changing camera types. Note the boys here with a up to date reflex camera and a somewhat dated Brownie. We also notice many more images of American boys with cameras than European boys. This may reflect nothing more than the greater availability of American images or perhaps the greater affluence of America. It strikes me that this could reflect a notable interest of American boys with technology. The same is true of radio.


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Created: 9:07 PM 7/16/2006
Last updated: 5:11 PM 8/23/2006