For ages, I’ve been admiring several photographers as they work with the old-school, ultra-simple Kodak Brownie cameras of the 1950’s and 1960’s. I’ve shared photos from Claire Voelkel and Barry Yanowitz before, and every time I see one of their Brownie shots, I get all weak in the knees. So dreamy! So vintage!
A recent video interview between Barry and Adam Lerner gave me the kick in the pants I needed — why hadn’t I ever gotten a cute little Brownie? After doing my research, I found a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye on eBay that looked promising for a whopping $20. It still had the original leather case and sounded like it was in great condition, which is important since a lot of these old cameras may have problems with focus, lens fungus, and light leaks. The Hawkeye was manufactured from 1949-1961 and features a whole two buttons — one for the shutter, and one to push at the same time if you want to try a longer exposure. Originally, it shot 620 film but you can retrofit with standard 120 film so long as you have at least one of the old (smaller) metal film holders.
One warm Saturday morning, Barry and I met up at Coney Island for a boardwalk stroll with our cameras, and I shot my first roll of film on the Brownie. Though it seems I have a bit of a light leak, I kind of love it anyway. I think the leaks plus the Kodak Ektar captures the summery tones of Coney perfectly. I can’t wait to take her out for a spin again real soon.