Creative: Kodak Promos late 1990s

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I’m in the lower left of each of these ads. Ara is bottom right.

You might not know this about me. I’m kinda famous. People like me. I’m in advertisements. I’m potentially not proud of this but it’s true. I’ve lived many different lives in the past few decades and these two cards are representative of one of those lives. Kodak Professional.

My old boss Ara, who is represented in both of these cards, had a great sense of humor. I’ve never mentioned Ara here, but I own him A LOT. He was the singular reason Kodak hired me. In 1997 I interviewed for the position which had a yearly salary of $37.000. I thought this was more money than I could ever spend. My first thought was “I can actually donate money if I want to.”

I first entered the Kodak corporate office, then the conference room where the other prospects were sitting, and a few things became very apparent. One, I was A LOT younger than anyone else. Two, I was the only person not wearing a suit. Three, I was the only one holding a portfolio. Well, turns out they didn’t want me. But the only thing that mattered was that Ara did. In short, according to rumor, he threw a shit fit, banging on the desk and telling the powers that he didn’t want another sales guy or another tech guy. HE WANTED A PHOTOGRAPHER. And it was done.

Anytime Kodak launched a new film or major product Ara would say “We should come up with some insane ad.” And we did. He would dream it up and we would get it done. On my very first day on the job Ara approached and saidHey, do you ever dress up as a woman?” I considered this for a moment and replied, “Sure, but never for less than one thousand dollars.” What he was getting to was an idea he had for an idea in regard to a film we made that was perfect for cross processing. So, we all dressed in drag and did our thing. I rode around Venice Beach in drag, then went to dinner in drag. I invited a friend from out of town and never told him about the drag thing. That was fun.

The top card was from a film called “E100VS,” which stood for “very saturated.” The second card was from a film called E200, which was a film designed to be pushed and could be pushed up to 800ISO, a rarity in the transparency world. (Slide film for you digital folks.)

RIP Ara. You are truly missed my friend.

Comments 9

  1. Yes, Thank God Kodak screwed up and hired a real photographer to promote their products(oh my)(!)
    I wish that camera companies would hire salespeople that actually used
    these cameras AND produced photographs.
    …but then you can say I’m a dreamer(Beatles…etc)

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      Thankfully there are a few. The odd part, or maybe not so odd at this point, is that the bulk of sales go to people who aren’t that interested in making pictures. Most are far more interested in the nuts and bolts, the tech, etc. Same for things like 4×4’s. LOTS of people watching YouTube films of going 4x4ing as opposed to people who actually do it. I also love when I meet a brand person who can back it up in the field. Someone who LOVES, and uses their product.

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      Kodak wasn’t just a job, it was a wardrobe. Especially teal colored golf shirts three sizes too large.

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      Those are for life. And seeing as they are made from 100% nonnatural ingredients they will literally last forever.

  2. Ara came up to NorCal to interview me along with John Altberg (RIP) and Jason Ness in 1997.

    I hit it off with Ara right away and even though I didn’t report to him, I knew he would be a good influence on KPRO West.

    You were lucky to have worked so closely with him. Always loved sales meetings with Ara.

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