This Kodak Brownie Commercial Doubled as a Pet Portrait Tutorial

Adorable portraits of our furry friends have long been part of the so-called Kodak Moment, as this 1950s commercial shows us! 

“Man’s best friend makes some of man’s best pictures,” goes the intro for today’s featured Kodak camera commercial from many decades past. As the trend with many of the company’s ads and commercials from the era, it came with some suggestions on how to get the best shots of the so-called Kodak Moment — pet portraits included!

According to Vintage Fanatic on YouTube, this Kodak commercial is from 1956. However, instead of focusing on a specific camera or film, it tells more about one of humanity’s favorite subjects: pets. With these tips on how to get the best snaps of man’s best friend, Kodak users at the time most likely had increased their chances of capturing some adorable pet portraits!

One thing the commercial didn’t mention is the camera used to demo the tips and tricks. It’s most likely a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Flash which, according to Camera Wiki and The Brownie Camera Page, was introduced in September 1950 (following the original Brownie Hawkeye introduced a year earlier) and discontinued in July 1961, therefore matching the year this commercial came out. It used 620 roll film, which is essentially 120 film with a different spool. The Bakelite box camera produces 12 6×6 cm images on a roll of film.

The Brownie Hawkeye cameras were equipped with a brilliant waist-level viewfinder which has a similar lens to the taking lens. This gave a somewhat decent preview of the framing. The switch opposite the shutter release allowed Bulb exposure but the camera didn’t have a socket for attaching the camera to

a tripod for steady shots. The exact shutter speed also wasn’t widely known and was said to depend on how clean the mechanism and how strong the spring was. The shutter speed is believed to be between 1/30 sec and 1/50 sec, and the aperture is also fixed at f15.

If you’re interested in adding this camera to your collection for its part in photography history, there are still many options available for you out there. If you want the complete package, we spotted two on ebay: a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Flash with Kodak Midget Flash and Bulb ($18.99) and another with the original box and flash kit ($37).