Say Cheese! Vevey Honors Cameras and Photography

A picture is worth 1,000 words and those enabling us to express ourselves visually deserve credit, so a Swiss city established a museum honoring photography and the inventors behind it.

Sure enough, a globetrotting and enterprising Lebanese made his mark and earned a place in the Swiss Camera Museum with a series of virtual images.

Georges Abou Jaoudé's virtual images (Abu-Fadil)

According to a plaque featuring the work of Georges Abou Jaoudé:

Digital photography doesn't exist, can't be seen, just like the partition of a musical instrument, that's but a description of what we hear, differently every time, thanks to a musician's talent. In the case of our photography, no paper or screen is perfectly identical, not to mention the talent or taste of the operator who'll transpose this description into an image.

Film packs from way back when (Abu-Fadil)

Digitally, one can describe an image that seems like photography, but that isn't, the explanation goes on.

But if the description is the fruit of an artist who thinks, who perceives, like a photographer, who uses the language of photography, the result can be troubling, and photographic, it notes.

Abou Jaoudé is just that, polymorphous, an architect, an IT person, a digital photography expert from the outset, he remembers the initial installation of an Eikonix (digital imaging system) in his lab and his collaborations with the publisher Skira, but also as a photographer, he delved into fashion and is equally a war reporter in the Beirut of his youth where he was trained by Armenian photographers.

Digital reflex cameras emerge in 2004 (Abu-Fadil)

The annual Visual Arts Festival, Open Air Photography Biennial and the Vevey International Photography Award draw the expected eager crowds to these events.

Antique photo of Jerusalem's Dome of the Rock (Abu-Fadil)

But equally fascinating is the Swiss Camera Museum, nestled between similar quaint buildings in Vevey's old town overlooking the Grande Place where aficionados can enjoy all things still and moving photography.

Motion pix? Cartoons? (Abu-Fadil)

A veritable treasure trove packed in four narrow but plentiful floors chronicles man's (and woman's) century-plus journey via a medium to faraway lands, bringing out reflections of the best and worst in humanity, and highlighting how big bulky cameras morphed into the tiniest hand-held devices capable of storing thousands of images.

Digital video's precursor (Abu-Fadil)

The permanent exhibition covers over 500 square meters (5,382 square feet) of displays.

It provides visitors with a rich history of photography and the amazing equipment that's been used over the ages.

Accordion-like Kodak cameras from the early to mid-20th Century are a throwback to when photographers wrapped a roll of film into a spool, locked it in, closed the back, adjusted the aperture, made sure there was enough light, and shot pictures.

A vest pocket Kodak (Abu-Fadil)

The Rochester, New York firm continues making cameras and has joined the digital revolution, but somewhere along the line, Kodak produced cute items called Instamatics.

Ah! Instamatics (Abu-Fadil)

In the 1960s one would drop a film cartridge in the camera and buy separate flash light bulbs that fit on top or into a pop-up holder to shoot indoors and at night.

The shutter release couldn't be depressed if there was no film in the camera.

Back then, it was cool technology and although it wasn't high-res, the pictures were decent.

Portable camera? (Abu-Fadil)

If one wanted really instant pictures, one bought a Polaroid. In went the film, click was the shot, and out came the picture from the front of the camera.

Only one hitch: There was no negative to make multiple copies so one had to shoot good photos and make sure they didn't fade with time, which, they ultimately did.

Insta pix - Polaroid (Abu-Fadil)

Long before cloud storage, external hard disks and thumb drives, people spent fortunes buying albums to save their printed pictures and negatives, after having dished out for all manner of black and white and/or color films.

Some still do.

Rolls of film at Vevey museum (Abu-Fadil)

For the uninitiated, baby boomers and millennials, negatives are strips produced in dark rooms from developed rolls of film using pungent smelling chemicals. One can then print photos and make multiple copies after drying them out.

Dark room (Abu-Fadil)

The Swiss Camera Museum is a must-see. It's home to a collection of over 500 Photochromes, mostly covering Europe, but also North Africa, North America and Asia.

North African women weavers (Abu-Fadil)

The mix of vintage and contemporary equipment and images is a feast for shutterbugs' eyes.