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British soldiers wearing gas masks, 1917.

British soldiers wearing gas masks, 1917.
2 7 c m
actual image size: 32cm x 19cm


Snapshot photograph of a group of British soldiers wearing gasmasks, taken by an unknown photographer in 1917 during World War One. Although officially banned from carrying cameras during World War One, many soldiers did. Especially popular was the Vest Pocket Kodak, advertised as 'The Soldier's Camera'. Originally a shooting term, the word 'snapshot' was first linked with photography in the late 1850s, when it was used to describe a photograph taken with a brief exposure. Over time, snapshot came to mean any amateur photograph taken with a simple camera. The origins of popular photography can be traced back to George Eastman's [1854-1932] introduction of the first Kodak camera in 1888. Snapshots are informal, personal records of everyday life and experiences.

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© Kodak Collection / National Science & Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

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