Putting photography on the agenda

Jill and Graham Boswell’s Snapshot Cameras, in Hamilton, New Zealand, once again distinguished itself from other Australian and New Zealand photo specialists by celebrating World Photo Day, August 19, in style.

Snapshot Cameras ran a 'Then and Now' photo competition as part of the day.

Snapshot Cameras ran a ‘Then and Now’ photo competition as part of the day.

Founded in 2009 by Australian landscape photographer, Korske Ara, World Photo Day hosted its first global, online gallery in 2010 with the goal to unite local and global communities in a worldwide celebration of photography. It has built modestly since then, although ironically has virtually no profile in Australia.

Snapshot Cameras has a history dating back to 1928 and ownership by the same family since 1946, and the Boswell family say they get more enjoyment from celebrating this anniversary then their own anniversary – because they’re celebrating along with other people around the world on the same day.

Because the 175th anniversary of photography coincided with the 150th anniversary of the city of Hamilton (New Zealand) the Boswells thought it fitting to invite their local contemporary Daguerreotypist to help them celebrate. (August 19 is related to the invention of the Daguerroptype process.)

Alan from Cased Images captured two Daguerreotype images to create a stereo image. The daguerreotype is a unique photographic image on a solid silver mirror. Each silver-coated copper plate must be brought to a high mirror polish and sensitised to light with iodine and bromine. The plate is then exposed in the camera and developed over heated mercury to reveal the latent image.  Exposed plates must be developed within a very short time of exposure so our guest brought his mobile darkroom, complete with fume cupboard, along on the day to both prepare and to develop the plates.

The two Daguerreotype plates captured on the day – these will be mounted in a special case to be viewed as a stereoscopic image. Graham Boswell is in the left of the photo – the other four people were customers who booked in early for VIP tickets. They all found it very difficult staying still for the two minute exposure!

The two Daguerreotype plates captured on the day – these will be mounted in a special case to be viewed as a stereoscopic image. Graham Boswell is in the left of the photo – the other four people were customers who booked in early for VIP tickets. They all found it very difficult staying still for the two minute exposure!

Snapshot Cameras also provided in store displays of antique and classic cameras, a reproduction of the first folding whole plate camera and some images captured using older techniques.

On the day they judged entries into their ‘Then and Now Photo Challenge’ where entrants had to find an old photo of somewhere in Hamilton, revisit the place in the photograph then merge the old photo with the current scene as in this sample composite of their store.

COMMENT: Whether it’s World Photo Day, National Photo Week or Month, International Photo Store Day or some other cause for celebration, surely doing something to draw attention to picture-taking is better than the alternative – a mute industry. So well done Snapshot Cameras!

While our industry associations have seen better times financially, it’s not impractical, by leveraging hundreds of participating photo specialists’ shop windows, websites and newsletters, with support via a modestly-funded PR campaign, that we could shift the dial a notch or two. Any interest?


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