By: Jack Swift
Johnson County Historian
As an employee of the Tomahawk newspaper for over 30 years, I came to realize early in my time at that newspaper the importance of the camera as a tool in the production of newspapers from day to day. While I learned the rudiments of the camera as a great tool of the trade, there was much I lacked as far as the history of that now familiar and brilliant invention is concerned.
I was sports editor for most of my time at the Tomahawk, and my camera was used often to record some of the action in football, basketball, baseball, tennis and volleyball. Of course I took many pictures outside of sports. I suppose one of my greatest efforts was when I took pictures of the late Ronald Reagan at Dobyns – Bennet High School in Kingsport as he was seeking the office of U. S. President.
Anyway, the first of my encounters with the camera was when there was (if I remember correctly) a 4-car wreck on Highway 67 just out of Mountain City. I had only been an employee of the Tomahawk a few weeks; I tried but my effort produced somewhat less than desirable results.
Early on I used a Yeshika camera with a viewfinder. After a while, I began to use a Minolta with a through-the-lens view both of those brands were film cameras as digital cameras either hadn’t been invented or had not gained popularity. The change from film to digital cameras was quite a jump. With that change, you could see on a small screen on the back exactly what would be in the picture. Of coarse that was a great advantage over the use of film. The digital camera I began to use was an Olympia I believe. Now I own and use a Kodak digital camera and get good results.
To come to what the camera is now has been a long line of improvements. There were many steps from Camera Obscura that used a pinhole to make an image on a flat surface to the magic of digital cameras. A few people who contributed to the inventions and improvements include Louis Daguerre, Henry Fox, George Eastman, Thomas Wedgewood, Johann Heinrich Schultze and John Herschel.
My first knowledge about a camera was with a Brownie manufactured by the Kodak Company. It was a point-and-shoot type that was used by a great number of folks and some I think are still in use today.