A Tribute to the 126 Instamatic Square

© Heidi I. Koehler

Websites like Instagram (https://instagram.com/) champion the square format...which is funny since most pictures are taken in a rectangular format but it's understandable since the point of interest in most images can usually be confined in a perfect square. The only really obvious exceptions are landscapes.
My first camera took virtually square pictures- a Kodak Instamatic (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instamatic) that took 126 format film. (I wish Kodak's site had some history on this subject- I don't like always relying on Wikipedia) The photo labs of the day used to develop them with trimmed corners which not only looked nice but was very practical; the images were easy to slide into the new albums instead of having to apply corners to the photos and pasting them into the old style binders. 
But this eventually came to an end and we started getting sharp, square edged images with no borders at all...I hated them. I even went so far as to attempt trimming the corners off my photos but just couldn't get it too look as nice. It seemed too that the developing of the images had taken a steep fall in quality but that probably had to do with rushing out '1 Hour' service jobs...more people were taking more pictures and staff probably just didn't have the time to tweak jobs the way they used to.
After I got my first 35mm camera I developed a real distaste for the square format. I'm sure a lot of that feeling came out of my hatred for the cheap looking square photos of those days...and it has to be said that there was a feeling that they were amateurish...because they were. Instamatic cameras didn't come with high quality lenses either.
But now that  I'm archiving my old image collection (scanning 126 film is challenging) I started to get some love back for the square image. Unfortunately, most film scanners don't include an adapter for this film so it's a challenge working with the homemade template I use to hold them flat to the glass. I'm very lucky that these negatives are still around actually.

In a future post I will post actual images from 126 format...the scans of the negatives are terrible and need a lot of retouching but for now I will showcase a few modern shots taken with the digital 35mm. With the computer I can bevel edges and add borders as I please with photo editing or illustration software. I can see why the scrapping trend has become so huge over the years- it's a modern way of picture mounting in more creative ways than the old binders allowed with their little corners to hold pictures in place.
We've come a long way!

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