Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge - Simple

A photo of a building is pretty simple.  The building itself may or may not be simple in construct, but taking a picture of one is simple enough. It is large, so fills most of the view. It doesn’t move around or get obscured by pesky shadows. So, for this week’s photo challenge, I decided to take a photo of a building. 

It is a big, square office building without a lot of architectural interest. What distinguishes this building is that the exterior is composed almost entirely of glass windows that reflect the sky and thus seem to emit its bluish hue. In Kennewick, Washington, it is commonly referred to as the “Flashcube” building. I’m not sure if anyone younger than 30 or so calls it that. If they do, they certainly have no first-hand understanding of the term.

To those of us a little older than 30 (or so), the name is very apt and just seeing the building can stir up deep-seated nostalgia. For some, they will recall the late 1960’s when Kodak first came out with their ‘Flashcube’ that would allow four flash photos in a row on their ‘Instamatic’ camera. I remember using these, as well as Polaroid cameras, as a kid in the 1970’s.


All ancient history, as technology now allows us all to whip out our smart phones and snap a high quality flash photo without having to insert a flash on top while hoping that you haven’t forgotten to change the bulb after that fourth shot, right?
Upon a brief perusal of the Sunday paper, I find both Kodak and Polaroid making the news. Does the news reveal that the brands of my youth are still as young and vibrant as I am? Alas, not as far as Kodak is concerned, who finally threw in the towel and declared bankruptcy. I read that they are planning to restructure and hope to capture some elite high-end photo printing customers. Not the same as the good ole ‘Instamatic’.
The news involving Polaroid is more positive, but is still a nod to the past. The article celebrates a display of professional photographer Robert Frank’s images taken in the 1970’s. What is interesting about this story is that it reminds us of a time when it was new and revolutionary to take everyday photos of simple subjects and to expose these ordinary people, places, and things in our lives to the world. Of course, Frank was a professional and still far exceeds us novices in his skill of light and composition, even with our fancy user-friendly digital cameras. However, many of us do take after his documentary style of capturing the simple images of things we see or care about or find interesting.
I am not a professional photographer, although I enjoy taking pictures. I remember using the ‘Flashcube’, although I have spent more years using a digital camera than an ‘Instamatic’. This week, I am celebrating simple images with a ‘flash’ from the past. I wonder for how much longer people will recall waving a Polaroid photo in the air to encourage the appearance of the image or will use the expression “Kodak Moment” to describe a sweet or funny time they want to remember. People do still say that sometimes, don’t they?

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