When a brand whose name is nearly synonymous with photography prepares to file for bankruptcy, photographers, naturally, are a bit upset.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, Kodak, the 131-year-old photography company, is preparing for a Chapter 11 filing. If the company cannot sell its cache of 1,100 digital-imaging patents — which could fetch from $2 million to $3 billion —Kodak will go bankrupt.
Photographers are preparing for the likely death of the company that has been an anchor of their vocation for their entire lives — though none of them appears surprised. Kodak was “in the thrall of its own brand,” wrote Alan Brew, a principal of RiechesBaird, a brand strategy and marketing company.
The company was felled by the adaptation of digital photography, despite having invented the first digital camera in 1975. Rather than staying on top of the digital revolution, the company seemed mired in nostalgia, better known for its old “brownie” cameras, the quality of its now-defunct Kodachrome film and for the phrase “Kodak Moment,” which entered the lexicon as a description of a photo-worthy scene. “The brand belongs in a museum,” wrote Brew.
Shutterbugs took to Twitter to express their sorrow:
• @levie: “Sad to see Kodak go bankrupt. And we all thought Instagram was just this fun little harmless app.”
• @daveweigel: “Hipsta-tragic.”
• @GaryForman: “You knew it was coming, but still...Kodak’s impending bankruptcy gets me in the gut. The end of an epic brand.”
• @RebeccaCarelli: “Sad that one day our kids may not understand the phrase ‘Kodak Moment.’”
In more homage, How to be a Retronaut, a site that posts old photos and advertisements, dug up some vintage ads for “The Autographic Kodak.”
But perhaps the most sympathetic response came from Tech news site CNet, which devoted part of an episode of “Rumor Has It” to the icon. The hosts of the show created an e-card (“Thanks, Kodak, for inventing digital photography, and destroying your bottom line. Way to take one for the team.”) and asked viewers to give Kodak an “internet hug.”