By George! Visiting the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York.

December 15, 2022

In late October my friend Sammy and I took a road trip to Rochester, New York, to visit the George Eastman Museum and to attend a talk by photographer Martha Cooper.

If you love photography, then a visit to the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York is a definite must.

George Eastman's legacy is quite vast, but amongst his many accomplishments is founding the Eastman Kodak company, which helped make film photography a popular pursuit around the world.

A display of images created with Kodak cameras, seen in the George Eastman Museum.

 

We began our time in Rochester though with a visit to the Rochester Public Market...

And a quick visit at Pendulum's Finds & Keeps, a fun vintage and thrift store just across the street from the Market...

The view from inside Pendulum's Finds & Keeps.

(Canon AE-1 with Kodak Ektar 100 film)

 

And then grabbed lunch at the Highland Park Diner - a classic old school eatery with friendly staff and a great menu.

 

After lunch we headed to the George Eastman Museum for the afternoon.

We started in the gardens next to the Museum, which were beautifully lit on that fall day...

 

A few film images in front of the Museum, fittingly shot with Kodak film...

Me in the front garden of the George Eastman Museum.

(Canon AE-1 with Kodak Ektar 100 film)

My Pal Sammy of My Summer Lair podcast.

(Canon AE-1 with Kodak Ektar 100 film)

 

The house, or mansion, side of the George Eastman Museum.

(Canon AE-1 with Kodak Ektar 100 film)

 

We started the Museum on the gallery side, planning to visit the mansion side afterwards.

The gallery side of the Museum.

 

A highlight of the Museum galleries was Flood Zone by Anastasia Samoylova - a fascinating look at the nature of climate change in south-eastern United States.

They did a wonderful job displaying the exhibit.

I found many images in the show quite beautiful and moving.

Flood Zone was also on exhibit earlier this year in Toronto as part of the Scotiabank Contact Photo Festival.

 

In the hallway outside the galleries was a wall displaying chemicals used in the production or developing of film.

It was fascinating to look closely at the many small jars of chemicals...  

After the galleries we explored the mansion.

My parents took my family to the "George Eastman House" several times when I was a kid. I have distinct memories of learning about photography from the displays I encountered. My Dad was an avid photographer, and my Mom an artist, so I'm sure they both equally loved taking us there.

The mansion is filled with many fascinating items that reflect the era of George Eastman's life.

This mansion offers additional opportunities to learn about the history of photography and of the Eastman Kodak Company.

 

I couldn't resist getting a few photos inside the mansion...

Photo by My Pal Sammy

The George Eastman Museum is not a funhouse, but it is a fun house!

 

...and more film photos of the gorgeous fall colours in front of the Museum...

(Canon AE-1 with Kodak Ektar 100 film)

(Canon AE-1 with Kodak Ektar 100 film)

The main event of our trip was a talk by Martha Cooper.

Martha Cooper, also known as "Kodak Girl" due to her collection of vintage Kodak ads, is renowned for documentating the early days of street art in New York City and beyond.

A case at the George Eastman Museum displaying some of Martha Cooper's collection of Kodak advertisements that feature women photographers.

In the centre is the Kodak Girl book (link includes a slideshow of images from the book) which shares more of Martha Cooper's collection

along with essays discussing the significance of women in the early history of photography.

 

Everyone was fascinated as Martha Cooper shared about the early days of meeting and photographing street artists and their creations, as well as where her work has taken her since then.

I especially appreciated Martha Cooper's honesty about originally wanting to be a different kind of photographer, and how she found her calling along the way of pursuing what she loves.

Afterwards Martha Cooper signed her latest book, Spray Nation. It was special to meet her and talk with her a bit during the signing.

Martha Cooper wearing a jacket by visual artist Wagner Wagz.

The jacket's artwork is based on a photo of Martha Cooper in her early days in New York City.

 

I recomend following Martha Cooper on Instagram, where she is very active posting her latest activities.

 

After the talk, we drove around exploring some of the city, including a theatre known as "The Little".

(Nikon F80 & CInestill 800T film)

 

(Nikon F80 & CInestill 800T film)

 

(Nikon F80 & CInestill 800T film)

My Pal Sammy is ready for his close-up!

(Nikon F80 & CInestill 800T film)

 

We also drove by the Kodak Tower.

Naturally I also took some film photos here...

(Nikon F80 & Cinestill 800T film)

(Nikon F80 & Cinestill 800T film)

 

All in all it was a great day!

If you love film, or photography in general, be sure to plan a trip to the George Eastman House. It's well worth it!

My thanks to the good people at the Museum for all that they do to celebrate and elevate photography!

Here are some relevant links:

Thanks for looking!


Culture Snap Photography features the work of Toronto-based photographer Henry VanderSpek. Henry specializes in documenting the work of local and international non-profit organizations, special events, live music, street and art photography. To hire Henry for an assignment, please click here to get in touch.
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