The Kodak Carousel

I own a Kodak Carousel projector. This was a magic lantern to the past for me. I loved how simple it was to operate.

I used to put together slideshows on a regular basis for my work where I would sync two or more projectors to a soundtrack. The tape had the sound on one track and on another track where the cues to advance and fade up or down the lamp on the projectors to help photos disolve on the screen.

The other day I got hooked on the TV show Mad Men.  According to the show’s pilot, the phrase “Mad men” was a slang term coined in the 1950s by advertisers working on Madison Avenue to refer to themselves.

Just yesterday I watched the show about the agency working with Kodak on their new slide projector, which they wanted to promote the wheel aspect of the tray.

I think this scene is not just masterfully written piece explaining what advertising executives do, but gets to the heart of the power of photography.

Here is that scene for you to watch.

While the power of images is used all the time by Madison Avenue to hook us on products and services, I think Don Draper’s image selection in the pitch gets to the real power of photography for the individual.

I love this speech of Don Draper’s:

Technology is a glittering lure. But there is the rare occasion when the public can be engaged on a level beyond flash, if they have a sentimental bond with the product.

My first job, I was in house at a fur company with this old pro copywriter, Greek, named Teddy.

And Teddy told me the most important idea in advertising was ‘new.’ Creates an itch. You simply put your product in there as a kind of calamine lotion.

But he also talked about a deeper bond with the product: nostalgia. It’s delicate, but potent.

Teddy told me that in Greek nostalgia literally means ‘the pain from an old wound.’

It’s a twinge in your heart, far more powerful than memory alone.

This device isn’t a space ship. It’s a time machine. It goes backwards, forwards. Takes us to a place where we ache to go again.

It’s not called ‘The Wheel.’ It’s called ‘The Carousel.’

It lets us travel the way a child travels. Around and around and back home again to a place where we know we are loved.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/3.2, 1/220

Yesterday at our church I took a few photos for preserving such a fun service. There is this photo I shared on my facebook page that was then shared by many others. People loved it not just because their kids are in the photo, but because of “nostalgia” of their own.

I loved it because the church this year created a special service for families. Often parents of little toddlers feel the pressure of keeping their kids quiet in “big church” and here they wanted the families to really feel welcomed.

I have never seen this many kids during a Children’s Sermon before at our church.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 3200, ƒ/3.8, 1/500

I also captured my daughter singing as part of a quartet. I was extremely proud.

Today photos help me remember and appreciate what a wonderful family I have. This photo here is from Easter 2001. Fourteen years ago and my daughter was just two years old.

We might not be showing our photos on a Kodak Carousel projector any more, but the photo still lets us travel the way a child travels. Around and around and back home again to a place where we know we are loved.