Posted by: Jack Henry | June 2, 2020

Editor’s Corner: Kodak Moment

Hello everyone,

I remember saying “Calgon, take me away!” one day in the office and having the person I was talking to stare at me like I was speaking another language. Then I realized, this peer of mine was too young to remember the Calgon commercials. Outside of feeling old, I also wondered what other advertisements or phrases I might utter that the younger folks might not relate to.

When I received this email the other day about the idiom “a Kodak moment,” I thought that it might be one of those things. Here’s a definition of the idiom from The Grammarist:

A Kodak moment is a moment in time that is so precious because of its sentimental value or its beauty, one wishes to preserve it on film. For instance, a baby’s first steps may be considered a Kodak moment. A couple’s first dance at a wedding may be considered a Kodak moment. However, the view of the sweeping vista of the Grand Canyon may also be considered a Kodak moment, or the budding of a beautiful flower.

The expression Kodak moment came from a popular advertising campaign for the American Kodak cameras in the latter half of the twentieth century, produced by Eastman Kodak. Kodak cameras such as the Brownie and Instamatic cameras were reasonably priced and easy to use, so even the most inexperienced or busy people could operate them. Digital photography and phone cameras led to the demise of the once ubiquitous home Kodak camera, and the company filed for bankruptcy protection.

Today, Kodak focuses on business imaging. Note that the word Kodak is capitalized in the idiom Kodak moment, because it is a proper name.

I distinctly remember the last time I heard the phrase “This is a Kodak moment!” I was at the San Diego Zoo®, where they actually had little signs around the zoo in places they thought you might want to snap a picture (or grab your cell phone and click). A crowd was gathered around the Komodo dragon exhibit. Our dear dragon was outside, which was unusual, but that wasn’t what the moment was about. People were yelling, kids were being shuffled away, and folks like me gathered closer to take photos as the dragon moved around the cage—wearing part of his lunch (a dead dear) on top of his head. It was feeding time, and the dragon was wandering about with this awkward deer toupee. When a man shouted, “This is a definite Kodak moment!” I cracked up. So much for it being a precious moment…like a baby’s first step.

I wonder what, in twenty years, the equivalent of this phrase will be, and whether it will make today’s 30-year-olds feel like grandparents.

There he is, your Komodo dragon.”

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

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