Kodak in Camp

Kodak in Camp

Rare WWI era Kodak Advertising Photograph


This framed World War I era photograph issued by the Eastman Kodak Company of Rochester, New York ca. 1917 was most likely displayed inside a shop selling Kodak cameras and supplies. Patriotism surely played a role in this particular image of American “Doughboys” working together selected by Kodak: although unlike patriotic posters advancing the war effort from this period, it’s rare to find surviving examples of real photographs of this mammoth size.

This is because these large photographs were easily damaged- (as this example exhibits) with the frames milled to a depth that prevented glazing. Further, the Eastman company states on labels affixed to backing boards of two known examples held in private collections that dealers who were loaned these advertisements were obliged to return them to Kodak “on demand“.

Importantly, this photograph was additionally reproduced in several mass-market US magazines as part of Kodak’s print advertising effort, known as the Take a KODAK with you campaign. (see below for publication history)

Kodak darkroom supplies, including a metal film reel held by a grinning soldier at lower right, are showcased in this nighttime portrait of three soldiers looking upon their kneeling comrade at far left who shows off an uncut strip of just-developed celluloid negatives. Small chemical trays and a stoppered glass jar for chemicals lay on the ground at the bottom of the frame while an open wooden Kodak developing tank rests near the left knee of this cigar-smoking doughboy.

Kodak in Camp: a Different Ad

Interestingly, the actual Kodak in Camp print campaign used illustration artwork depicting two soldiers looking at a photo album inside a tent. Outside, another soldier marches with his rifle slung over his shoulder rather than this actual photograph showing soldiers inspecting just-developed film. The advertising copy for Kodak in Camp:

From reveille to taps, each hour will bring something new into the life of every young soldier. New surroundings, new habits, new faces, and new friendships will make for him a new world–a world full of interest to him to-day and a world upon which he will often dwell in memory when peace has come again. And this new world of his offers Kodak opportunities that will relieve the tedium of camp routine at the time and will afterward provide what will be to him and his friends the most interesting of all books–his Kodak album. The parting gift, a Kodak. Wherever he goes the world over, he will find Kodak film to fit his Kodak.

Other Examples with different subject Matter

Other so called “self-framed advertisements” by Kodak ca. 1915-20 in this style have surfaced at auction within the last 15 years. Typically the oak frames are either lightly stained or painted black, with a metal nameplate on the lower frame margin advertising the word Kodak singly or as part of a slogan, such as The Kodak Letter, and Keep a Kodak Story of the Children. One later example, perhaps from the early 1920’s and titled Motion Pictures the Kodak Way features a more deco-style wooden frame with a couple standing on the deck of a large ship: the gentleman aiming an early Kodak movie camera skyward. (with exception of “Keep a Kodak Story of the Children“, these cited examples appeared at public auction in 2017, and were formerly in the collection of Gary and Dr. Joy Graham, Winchester, VA.)

Published as: “Take a KODAK with you.”in The Saturday Evening Post: full page halftone advertisement for the August 4, 1917 issue; smaller halftone advertisement in The Independent (with which is incorporated Harpers Weekly) for October 6, 1917.

Print & Frame notes: recto: metal plate (probably brass) held by two screws to lower center margin of oak frame embossed with title of work: Kodak in Camp; verso: pasted white label printed with following on backing board:


This advertising matter is the property of Eastman Kodak Company, and is loaned upon the sole condition that it will be returned upon demand.



Condition: staining and abrasions to areas of print recto; two holes and adhesive remnants to lower left corner area of print where pinned label has been removed: a similar framed advertisement ca. 1917 showing a US soldier placing a Vest Pocket Kodak Camera into his uniform’s pocket indicates this label came from a Kodak negative printed on Eastman Royal Bromide Paper. (information from former Spira Collection print)

Provenance: purchased by this archive in July, 2017 from NV dealer who originally purchased photograph in Sacramento, CA thrift store around 2015.

Kodak in Camp

Image Dimensions71.4 x 60.0 cm mounted to thick board

Support Dimensions83.2 x 71.8 cm stained oak frame