This book celebrates the history of toy and novelty cameras, explores how these items spurred international photography movements, and makes clear just how popular they remain today.
The introduction of Kodak’s Brownie (the world’s first simple, low-cost camera) in 1900 made photography accessible to the masses. Soon everyone had a camera, and snapshots became the most popular means of capturing a time, place, or memory. As the medium became more ubiquitous, so did the variety of cameras available. This remarkable book celebrates the “toy camera” and its rise out of a novelty market. Inexpensive, often shamelessly marketed to children, and sometimes just plain quirky, these cameras have become a niche industry that thrived during the analog film era and continues to enjoy immense popularity in our digital world. Full-color photographs showcase the most unusual examples of functioning cameras—retro analogs, custom pieces, cool new products from Japan, and all sorts of camera-themed objects and accessories—and the photographs they create. Interviews with the inventor of the Holga and those responsible for Lomography help explain Game Boy and Batman-themed cameras, and cameras specifically made to photograph cats. Insightful essays explore the role of marketing and hipster culture in these cameras’ popularity, as well as the newfound enthusiasm for their “special” effects.