THE KODAK BROWNIE SUPER 27
On my eighth birthday, my favorite aunt gave me this camera.
She couldn’t have known that from that day, photography would become a passion, a career, and a passport to experiences of which I would otherwise only have dreamed.
Photographs were important in my family, and so, naturally, were cameras. She chose well.
The Brownie Super 27 had everything a budding photographer could ask for: built-in flash, simple adjustable focus, exposure adjustment. It gave me my introduciton to all those technical aspects of photography without requiring that I know very much. Plus, it had a sleek, mid-century design that was (at least to me) so much more beautiful than Kodak’s earlier efforts in the Brownie line.
But that sleek shape had some real benefits to a budding young photographer, it made the camera easy to hold steady.
It was also, I believe, the last of the Brownie line, and the last camera before the advent of the Instamatics, with their smaller film size. The Super 27 took 127 roll film, which gave it a negative large enough to make quite a good negative with an only moderately good lens, so the photos I took with it were remarkably good for a boy with no experience. I was encouraged. And I took that camera everywhere. Our family album shows me with it at the beach, on a trip to the Bennington Monument, and most memorably, to the New York World’s fair. I saw a lot of the wrld through that bright, square viewfinder.
These fifty years later, I can look back on a pretty successful career as a filmmaker and photographer. I’ve produced documentary shorts, a long-running series for broadcast television, and TV commercials that have run nationally in the World Series. I’ve owned two successful production companies, produced winning political campaigns, and collaborated with some of the best creative talent in the industry. And it all began with the Brownie Super 27 my aunt gave me.
It was, as things have turned out, the perfect gift.