Skip to primary navigation Skip to secondary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer
Subscribe To Blog  

SUBSCRIBE HERE

 Recent posts

 

 Categories

 

 Archive

Keogh Newsletter

- 27 Apr 2015
Posted by:

 

SNAPSHOTS OF WAR   

When the Anzac troops landed at Gallipoli quite a number of the soldiers carried with them a fashionable new mass product, a sturdy compact camera that was small enough to fit in the pocket of their battle tunics.

Those cameras captured moments that now form the core of the surviving imagery of the Gallipoli campaign and the preparations (and jollity) in Egypt before it. The panorama of the cove, the sharp ridges and ravines behind, diggers lounging in trenches and on the beach, even the wounded being shipped out – they are all images taken by soldier snappers.

There were no official war photographers at Gallipoli, just a few newspaper journalists with cameras. Phillip Schuler, the correspondent for The Age, was the most gifted of those and he is responsible for many of the iconic images of Gallipoli. But the khaki enthusiasts were responsible for the bulk of photos.

The camera was a Vest Pocket Kodak, known as the VPK. It was small (6.5cm X 4cm) and encased in metal, it had an extendable bellows lens and a new easy-to-load film cartridge. The American camera was originally introduced in 1912 for a blossoming amateur market but it was marketed around the world throughout the war years as the “soldier’s camera”. They proved to be hardy and very popular; almost two million were sold before the end of the war.

In Australia the pitch was “the soldier’s kit is never complete without a Vest Pocket Kodak”. The camera sold for 30 shillings. That was an affordable price for any soldier enthusiast, since even a private in the AIF was paid six shillings a day (the British equivalent was initially paid just one shilling). That adds credence to the suggestion the camera was fairly common among Australian troops and that several thousand VPKs went ashore in the eight months before the Gallipoli campaign was abandoned.

The VPK snapshots became a rarer entity once the AIF infantry divisions were transferred to the Western Front. The British high command had banned the use of the cameras on the battlefield from April 1915 and the threat of arrest and court martial seems to have had a far greater impact on the Western Front than it did at Gallipoli or in the subsequent Palestine campaign. While it did not stop all use of the cameras on the Western Front, taking a VPK snapshot became a far more surreptitious activity.

One reason for the ban was the realisation that, if captured by the enemy, the developed images could unwittingly reveal valuable intelligence. Another reason, though, was to control the flow of unsavoury information back to the home front as the war turned into a bloody, grinding stalemate.

The ban was not even under consideration until after the opposing frontline troops staged an informal Christmas truce in 1914. VPK snapshots were taken of the mingling troops and two of those images were published in the British press the following month.

The tensions over khaki snapshooters escalated in February 1915 when competing British newspapers began touting for frontline photographs from the troops, offering large cash prizes. The military paperwork for a ban on cameras was drafted the following month and the ban was imposed in April. Many British officers are known to have responded at that point by sending their cameras home.

The Anzac troops did not arrive on the Western Front until March 1916, by which time official war photographers had been appointed. Those soldiers who continued to use their VPKs had to be far more careful about when and where they pointed their cameras, and they had to develop more devious ways to obtain and send off their film cartridges. Whatever their motivation, the flow of images ebbed but did not stop.

Thanks to the sturdy pocket camera, a device in search of a mass market, those images have seeped into popular culture as well as military history. Along the way, broad access to the new device inflamed the tensions that exist between military security and the free flow of information.

IN THE VALES       

Kaylene Brown, the executive assistant at Keogh Consulting, was born and bred in the southern vales, the rolling country on the fringe of Adelaide, and she still lives and works there.

Urban sprawl has drastically changed the nature of the vales in her lifetime – her father grew up on a farm in the area – but there’s still an echo of country ways in Kaylene. She works darn hard, she’s plays sport even harder, and animals are and always have been a big part of her life. Music is the one area where the rural metaphor breaks down – she loathes country music.

Kaylene wanted to be a vet but couldn’t leap the high bar, the academic standards set for entry. So she left high school and went straight to work, trying her hand at many types of jobs. She worked in restaurants and shops, on a golf course and in a crash repair business before settling into administrative roles at TAFE and then at Keogh.

Kaylene is a highly competitive veteran netballer. She’s played 3500 games over three decades and loves the sport and the camaraderie so much she can’t give it away, despite a worn-out hip and the sage advice of her doctor. Instead she has cut back to playing just three times a week. It used to be five!

Apart from Toby, the man in her life, her other big love is animals. She was born among them and over the years has been surrounded by dogs, cats, rabbits, chickens, ducks, horses and lizards. Right now it is Hodge and Baxter, two young boxers from the same litter, each with a blue eye and a brown eye. Baxter is a special case; he is deaf and has been taught to obey purely visual commands. And does it well – some of the time.

 

TASTER    

Is it art? Is it science? Or is it just one hell of an adventure?

The astronauts in the International Space Station have taken to tweeting their photographs as they orbit up to 400 kilometres above the Earth. The images taken from such an unusual perspective are eye-catching. Some might be likened to abstract expressionist paintings, others to the efforts of Australian artist Fred Williams.

The above image is a photograph of a well-watered Lake Mackay in the Western Desert, on the border of WA and the Northern Territory. It is usually a vast salt lake.

The astronauts get plenty of opportunities to snap a spell-binding image; they orbit the planet 15 times every day.

One of the astronauts, Chris Hadfield, has published a book of images he captured while on a five-month mission on the space station in 2013. It is titled You Are Here: Around The World In 92 Minutes.     RS

INSIGHT

You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself.  Galileo

Tagged with: Newsletters

COMMENTS

On 07 May 2015 at 01.10 pm, Ros said:

She is also the most beautiful daughter one could ask for. I reckon I know why she hates country music though Probably listening to slim dusty played by her dad in a short wheel base Toyota all around Australia Was probably the cause Luv The newsletter

Leave a reply:

 Recent posts

 

 Categories

 

 Archive