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EARLY COLOR


Flipping through history books, it seems as it the world was black and white before the 1960s. But Kodak introduced their first color film, Kodachrome, as early as the 1940s. They gave sheets of the new color transparency film to a few leading professional photographers to test out. Unlike black and white, the photographers had to send the film back to Kodak for processing. They had no control over the image, and no privacy over who saw the picture. Also, the subject matter of their photos was further restricted by the Comstock Law.

In effect since the Victorian age, the Comstock Law forbid the shipping of any image or material deemed pornographic through the US Mail. "Indecent" was left to the post master to determine, and there was no clear line for an artist to follow. To avoid the steep fines (and even jail), most photographers played it safe. Bare breasts could be defended as "art," while any glimpse of public hair could be seized as "lewd" and "offensive." To stay as safe to the side of "art" as possible, photographers posed their models not to show any public hair of any kind.

Here is one that survived the censors, passing as art, not pornography. Glad it did. The colors of early Kodachrome are so rich, and the detail of the 5x7 and 8x10 viewfinder cameras so clear.

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