This section is from the "Studio light a magazine of information for the profession 1918" book, by Sara F. T. Price. Also see Amazon: Studio light a magazine of information for the profession 1918.
Kodak Park is in the war. From reveille to taps, it is alive with lads in khaki. With its barracks and mess hall and instruction quarters, it has taken on the aspect of an army cantonment.
Nor are these play soldiers that are quartered there. They are the boys who soon will be "over there" doing their part, often within range of the big German guns, that the fight may be kept over there, not finished over here.
But it is not how to advance in open order, how to bomb a boche dug-out or parry a bayonet thrust that they will be taught in their training. They are learning how to develop the negatives brought back to them by the scouts of the air; negatives that tell where the howitzers are concealed, where the lines are weak and where they are strong, by what routes supplies are brought up, what movements of troops are being made - will tell General Pershing the thousand and one things that he wants to know and that Hindenburg doesn't want him to know.
We think of aeroplanes as bomb droppers, as brilliant air duelists rat-tat-ting each other with Lewis guns; but the big part of the work is bringing back pictures of the enemy terrain, pictures on which the immediate activities of the army are based. Aeroplanes fight duels in the air, of course, fight them every day, and it is these brilliant exhibitions of daring that find space in the news columns - but, as a rule, their fighting is to protect their own photographers or to "down" an enemy plane that is likewise on a photographic scouting expedition.
Before the successful advance at Vimy Ridge, hundreds of aerial photographs showed the exact location of the enemy guns and strongholds, showed them so accurately that they were demolished in the hurricane of big gun fire before the eager infantrymen dashed across no-man's land to victory.
Our own vast aeroplane fleet, now in the making, is likewise to provide the scouts for the army, and cameras will be their eyes. Photography, therefore, looms big in the war program. Men must not only be taught how to fight, but men must be taught how to fly, how to photograph and how to develop and how to print. From four to five thousand men are needed, and at once, to do the photographic work back of the lines, to translate, for the commanding officers, the photographic message that the scouts bring back from the skies.And these men are to be trained in photography at Kodak Park.
It was a great satisfaction to us that at this critical time we could offer our government the facilities of our great plant for the training of these men, and, for what is equally important, the manufacture of the special apparatus and materials that are so urgently needed. We had not only the largest and most complete photographic manufacturing plant in the world, but we also had a coordination of resources that enabled us to devise cameras for special needs, to equip them with special lenses of our own calculation, ground by our own workmen, and to produce the sensitive materials best suited to the peculiar requirements of war photography. Here was an organization with its marvelously equipped Research Laboratory and a great force of engineering, scientific and inventive specialists, all working to broaden and better photography. Apparently it was following what was strictly one of the pursuits of peace - but war came and it was ready.
The photographic activities of the army are all under the Signal Corps, and it was, therefore, to that division that we specifically offered our services for the training of men as well as for the designing and making of whatever might be required to perfect its photographic equipment:
"To provide school accommodations and instructors for training men for the photographic work of the Aviation Section, in Rochester, with experts to take charge of the work so far as their services were required, and to select and recommend some of our younger specialists for service with the Aviation Section here and abroad.
"To construct and submit experimental cameras, and submit blue prints of same so that tenders for their construction could be obtained from other firms as well as our own.