Guest blogger: Tiana Stephens – Making connections from Korean War photos

A single photograph of a person—just one moment in someone’s lifetime—has a way of revealing things that are sometimes too complex for words. It conveys emotion, perspective, context, and evokes vivid memories, especially for the ones left behind when that person passes away.

He didn’t talk too much but he always greeted me with a drawn out “hell-o grand-daughter” through his mustache and long white beard. His voice was full and wise and came from the bottom of his pot belly with a slight southern twang. The most I knew of my grandfather, Crawford Flynn, was that he was good with his hands–thumb included–when it came to gardening, and that I had the special honor of sitting proudly beside him at the head of the table when I was too small to climb up there myself. I liked watching him make things in his workshop–wooden toys, instruments and eventually an entire miniature city, “Tiny Town,” for my grandma’s daycare. My brother and I would find scrap pieces of wood and swirl the layers of sawdust on the floor into designs while he worked. For many winters Tiny Town transformed into the North Pole and he was Santa to us grandkids and Smile Day Care kids at Christmas. We were all in awe of his talents. In the warmer season I was always amazed at his canopies of string beans, giant twisted cucumbers, dahlias and fluffy peonies bigger than my face. It was decades ago but the memories come back as colorful as his garden.

Two years ago on Independence Day I was watching a story on 13 WHAM news about a local woman who had inherited a very special collection of photos released by the Department of Defense that were taken during the Korean War. The reporter, Adam Chodak explained that Betty Perkins-Carpenter, a vet herself (among many other impressive accomplishments in her 83 years including an Olympic diving coach) was trying to connect veterans or families with the faces in the photos she calls her “gems.” The story flashed through some of the photos up close, and the camera moved over more and more stacks spread across a table.

These were not the type of wartime pictures that you see in history books, in the news on Veterans Day or when certain anniversaries come around. They were pictures of soldiers doing very ordinary things under not-so-ordinary circumstances, like posing with a dog or drinking pop. The story showed Betty on the phone calling small-town newspapers and people she found in the phone book whose names matched the names in the detailed captions printed on the back of the photos. She didn’t have any luck making connections during that story.

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In the two-minute news story I thought I saw something familiar. Maybe it was wishful thinking but in one of the photos there was a group of about a dozen soldiers and one man in the center of the of the group looked like my grandfather. I checked the list of names that was posted online with the story. No Crawford Flynn. I watched again a few days later on my computer, trying to pause the video just right on what I thought I saw. I told myself there was no way that out of the hundreds of faces that it could be so. No way. I’m from Colorado and my grandfather was originally from North Carolina, so how could a picture of him surface in New York? I dismissed the idea partly because of the low probability that it was him and partly out of fear of disappointment that it was not.

A little more than a year later I was going through a large brown accordion file that I keep old family photos in. The oldest photos are tucked safely in envelopes inside of folders and separated by family (Wong for my mother, Flynn for my father). I came across some pictures that my dad had given me when my grandfather passed away in 2005. Two small and tattered pictures were of him when he served in the Air Force during the Korean War. I immediately thought again of Betty’s story and her picture collection. I could still see the image in my head and decided to make arrangements to see the photo in person. I was nervous that I would be let down if it was not him in the photo but I knew I would regret it if I never saw it for myself.

I came to her house alone on a mild night in October, ringing the bell from outside the porch then reluctantly stepping inside the porch to knock on the door of the house. She answered with the same enthusiasm I saw on the TV story, greeting me with a hug and then leading me through the quiet house, explaining some of the various artifacts from around the world and how she came into possession of them before we reached her office. She had so many wonderful stories to tell that I soon worried I would disappoint her if I was not related to the man in the picture.

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We walked over to a bureau in her office and Betty picked up a manila envelope with the words “Our Gems” written with a marker on the front. She laid the photograph down carefully in front of me and I put my hands up to my mouth and gasped. I immediately knew that it was him! His posture, profile, hair—everything about him was so recognizable. We jumped up and down and cried with joy “it’s him, it’s him, oh my gosh, look at that!” I put my small photos next to the 8×10 for comparison. The images almost mirrored each other. It was an incredible discovery—Betty always says “she was all goose bumps” when we talk about it today and we still can’t believe our own story when we tell it.

On my next visit back to Denver, I brought this gem to my grandmother, father, aunts, uncles, siblings and cousins. The image brought out so many incredible stories that I had never heard before. Wonderful stories about how my grandmother met my grandfather when he was stationed in Japan following the war. Nobuko Ikeda was a stunning, petite young lady working in a coffee shop on the Air Force base. She naturally attracted many admirers who would learn after waiting in a long line for coffee that she didn’t want anything to do with courters—let alone American ones. She was hard-working and humble, from a well respected Japanese family and she said she never wanted people to think of her as “a girl who goes with GI’s.” Yet, somehow my grandfather was able to convince her to marry him and then she did eventually “go with him”…all the way back to the United States.

I keep these family stories in my heart. But it’s the photographs—the illustrations from the years so far before my own—that I can hold and see, that will be my most treasured possessions until it’s time to pass them down to my own grandchildren.

When my grandfather died, I regretted not being brave enough to ask him about his experiences both in Korea and Vietnam. Was he scared? Did war change him and somehow was it worth it if it led him to meet my grandma? Now, having this extraordinary photo of him—obtained through extraordinary means—I found something that I didn’t know was lost.

The night I took the photo home, I knew the next thing I needed to do was to help Betty find more families that might be able to make the same incredible connection that I did. I knew that the picture collection needed to be available where the world could see it, that they should be scanned and posted online.

Betty and I talked about what we could do to make this happen, and I was able to eventually connect with Chuck Rudd at Kodak Alaris and a wonderful team of experts who were just as excited as Betty and I about the project. Kodak Alaris found a way to safely scan the pristine collection of glossy black and white 8×10 photos—nearly 200 of them—front and back!

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In Rochester New York–where everyone knows everyone–word travels fast and good stories travel faster. I’m happy to report that the Democrat and Chronicle heard about the project and is hosting an online gallery of Betty’s entire collection of photos, complete with the captions on the back complete with dates and locations and even names and hometowns on some.

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Words can’t describe how thankful I am to have connected with Betty and this photo, Kodak Alaris and the Democrat and Chronicle. I hope that through this project many more families, widows or veterans themselves of the “Forgotten War” will be able to make a connection with a photo and perhaps remember stories that will be passed along to future generations. After all, our story begins with the stories of those who came before us. And a picture is worth so much more than 1,000 words.

CES – Drones, Phones and Wearabletech!

For those of you unfamiliar with CES it’s the annual Consumer Electronics show and the Hollywood of Tech. A glitzy VIP club for the latest shiny new things. It sends the press into hyperbole and brings out the techno-geek in all of us. Of course Las Vegas is the perfect backdrop – an incongruous fantasy world in the middle of the desert (a description that could apply equally to both show and city). The combination is quite overpowering, yet seductive enough to attract 150,000 visitors annually. After four shows I’m still not sure whether I love it or hate it – either way there’s no doubting its credentials to fuel the imagination in ways few other shows can match.

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The Strip at night.

2014 was the largest in history with 2 million square feet of exhibit space and over 3200 exhibitors. It is simply stellar in dimension. This year the pretty young things were hailed as wearable tech, drones, 3D printing, next gen smart phones and the Internet of Things to name a few. All exciting opportunities no doubt, but time will tell which live up to the promise. That 3D printing and wearable tech have been around for decades didn’t seem to matter; this year both technologies had evolved to a futuristic sexiness that demanded attention.

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South Hall Entrance

Wearables had been catapulted to stardom by the booming smartphone and app market and just needed the sensors to catch up. Perhaps I should be more interested in how long I’ve sat down and how many calories I’ve burnt, but what would I do with the information bar feel a little guilty about my second piece of toast? The real potential of wearable tech is still waiting in the wings. Imagine a comprehensive health monitor that diagnoses all manner of health problems before they arise – now that sounds useful, but still only scratching the surface as just about everything we use evolves into a connected network.

So we enter the surreal Internet of Things. A rather expansive term attributed to the British technologist Kevin Ashton, encapsulating the concept that everyday objects are now connecting to the internet. Each one uniquely identifiable, accessible, controllable and working silently in the background to make life better. (At least I hope that’s the outcome). And the machines manage themselves. M2M or Machine to Machine technology is growing with google-like determination, with IDC forecasting 212 billion connected things by 2020 and over 30billion autonomous things. Whether the thought of things controlling things without human intervention fills you with wonder or something less savory, it is going to happen and will be one of the biggest revolutions over the horizon. All part of the BIG DATA phenomenon.

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The LV Monorail – every 4 minutes to the show at peak times

3D printing in the home is an impossibly exciting prospect, but what would I print? It’s too slow and expensive for things that can be mass produced – if you wanted a new plastic fork, you’d just buy one. No, the value of 3D printing, at least in the short term, is to create something unique. The prototype and hobbyist market is booming whilst personalization of objects has yet to find mainstream appeal, but watch this space…!

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3D printed models (hand painted) at the 3D systems booth

And so to Kodak Alaris. This was our first CES as the new company. As I entered the foyer to the South Hall and climbed the escalator, a Kodak Moments sign hove into view. We had secured prime position at the hall entrance – it could not have been better sited.

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The Kodak Moments Print Place

The team was busy setting up an array of kiosks and mobile printing sales collateral. I continued on to our conference room suite and demo facilities in Hall 4 of the South Hall next to Google. (Incidentally – it is always a source of amazement to me how the show floor moves from utter mess to pristine overnight.)

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South Hall the day before opening.

Our show message was mobile. A third of the world’s population will have a smartphone with a hi-res camera by 2017 – already the preferred way of capturing planned as well as spontaneous photos. Gartner estimates total app downloads tripped past 100 billion in 2013. The number of digital images in existence is now estimated at over 2 trillion and growing fast. And each time we make it easier for consumers to print and do more with their images from smartphones we see a step change upwards in printing. Already we have accounts with over 20% of orders from Mobile devices. Our My Kodak Moments app passed 3 million downloads in December, and in October last year we took the bold step of allowing any developer to add Kodak printing capability to existing and new photo based apps with the launch of the Kodak Photo Service.  We now have seven partner apps live giving a total of 14million app downloads available to print.

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Image from CNN article 8th Jan 2014

Our message at the show was simple. You can now print easily from your mobile devices wherever you are – and the Kodak connected infrastructure and range of apps able to do this is growing all the time.

On the first day of the show the severe east coast weather was still making headlines. I was delayed a day travelling over and with 17,000 flights cancelled the prior week;there was no doubt early attendance was affected. It quickly picked up on Day two though as airlines worked their way through Atlantic quantities of de-icer and got the US moving again.

The lobby booth was a storming success and bustling with activity from dawn till dusk every day. Feedback was unanimously positive and we have a great opportunity to further expand our touchpoints, connected retail distribution and awareness. Our open platform mobile strategy in this space has been well received by press and customers alike and there is much to play for over the coming months.

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Karen Hoff –  in control at the lobby booth!

Finally I would like to thank our tireless team who really did a wonderful job in the planning and execution of our CES presence – it was a great success! The next show is the big one for our industry – Photokina, which takes place in September at Cologne. Look forward to sharing the experience as it happens, it’s sure to be a something special

Best wishes to all for 2014!

Darren

Rebecca Szuniewicz: Calling all Photographers of any level!

Every year, in August, the Pittsford Carriage Association takes Walnut Hill Farm back to the late 19th century to host the Walnut Hill Carriage Driving Competition.  For five days in August the farm transforms, to a time where the horse and carriage was the main source of transportation, and also represented social status.

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I have attended this event the last couple of years.  It is a wonderful opportunity to get some beautiful and unique photographs.  The farm is decorated beautifully with thousands of flowers, which in itself is great for photographs. The carriages are restored pieces of art from early Americana, and are a must see! The outfits are truly remarkable and add to the authenticity of this event.

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And, of course saving the best for last, the horses!  They alone command attention and respect the minute they enter the ring.  They will definitely give you reasons to keep your shutter clicking away.  Once you start taking pictures of these majestic creatures, you won’t stop. Put the whole package together-flowers, carriage, outfit and horses, and you have yourself a brilliant afternoon full of tons of photo opportunities. And besides your photographs you will truly enjoy the afternoon at this unique international competition.

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The event takes place Aug 14th-18th at 397 West Bloomfield Rd in Pittsford, NY.  Walnut Hill is handicapped accessible (call ahead for a staffed golf cart to meet your car), provides ample free parking, and dog friendly.  For full details and schedule of events please visit www.walnuthillfarm.org

- Rebecca Szuniewicz

ESSENCE Festival™ Photo Booth Powered by Kodak

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The ESSENCE Festival™ kicks off starting on the Fourth of July running unti Sunday, July 7 in New Orleans. Kodak will be adding to the fun at the Festival by powering a photo book where guests can get a photo on an ESSENCE cover or with other cool backgrounds.

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Look for the ESSENCE Festival™ Photo Booth Powered by Kodak  in the Fan Zone and other high-traffic locations in the Convention Center as well as Woldenberg Park during Family Reunion Day and the Superdome for each night of concerts. Photos are $20 each.

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Kodak and Bartell Drugs Blogger Party with Kodak Picture Kiosks

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Who doesn’t love a party? That’s why we decided to throw a blogger party at Bartell Drugs to help get the word out about all the cool ways you can use Kodak Picture Kiosks.

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Bartell Drugs is a pharmacy chain in the Seattle, Washington area. But really it is so much more. They have almost everything you need in one stop. This includes a photo studio with Kodak Picture Kiosk!

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That’s why we chose it as the hub of our blogger party. Louise Bishop, the creator of the blog momstart.com was kind enough to be our hostess for the party.

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Bloggers Michelle Paige, Heather Murphy, Summer Olesky and more joined Louise at Bartell Drugs to enjoy some treats, learn about Kodak Picture Kiosk and then use the Kiosks to print their own pictures.

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The bloggers enjoyed the Koda-cookies and the goody bags, but what they really loved was their hands on time with the Kiosks.

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The bloggers learned about some of the Kiosk’s great features like Facebook Connect and how to print from their mobile phones using Kiosk Connect mobile app.

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Prints from Michelle Paige

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Prints from Heather Murphy

You can’t help but smile when you see all the great memories that these bloggers printed out at the Kiosk party!

Find a Kiosk near you and have your own party!

Kodak Picture Kiosk at 21 Stories for Scouts

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Sucessful rappellers sign the 21 Stories for Scouts poster

The Rochester Boy Scouts have an interesting way to raise money to support urban scouting. They invite the community to rappel down 21 stories in exchange for a donation. 21 Stories for Scouts is an opportunity of a lifetime and Kodak volunteered at the event to help create memories the rappellers will be able relive and share.

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A rappeller makes the trip down the side of the First Federal Plaza building

The rappelling took place on the First Federal Plaza building in downtown Rochester. A skilled team was brought in to provide equipment, training and logistics. In addition, Kodakers were there to take photos and print them for the participants.

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Kodak volunteers: Dan Olean, Dick Tuyn, Rich McNeary & Tom Maurer

We had Dan and Rich on the roof taking photos of the rappellers while Dick and Tom were on the 19th floor printing them out in a collage template.

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Chuck Rudd setting up the Kodak Picture Kiosks

All the way at the bottom on the street, Chuck and I manned two Kodak Picture Kiosks where we printed photos for friends and family taking shots with their cameras. We also made extra prints taken by our photographers.

By the time a rappeller got to the bottom of the building and back up to the top to return the equipment, we had photos waiting for them. How did we do this?

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The planning map for the photo transfer logistics

We have some skilled folks at Kodak and they planned out this impressive process for routing the photos wirelessly from the cameras on the roof to the Kodak Picture Kiosk on the 19th floor for the collages and then by cable 300 feet down to the two Kiosks on the ground. When these guys do a job… they go all out!

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The hole on the 19th floor where we ran cables 300 feet down to the other 2 Kiosks

I was mighty impressed with the team’s work. I don’t think any other charity rappelling event is as well documented or has a photo system like ours!

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Rappeller Amy and her brother Adam who is involved with the Seneca Waterways Scouts

It was a treat to be down on the street with the rappeller’s friends and family. They were all so excited for their rappellers and delighted that they could print out the photos they had taken right on the Kodak Picture Kiosk.

We saw all sorts of cameras. SLRs with huge lenses, point and shoot cameras and yes… a lot of people were taking pictures with their phones. That was no problem for us! After a quick download of the Kodak Connect mobile app, we were even able to print pictures from people’s phones!

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Using the Kodak Picture Kiosk we were able to pull a still photo of Valerie rappelling from video her husband shot

When the rappellers came out onto the street to rejoin their group, they were even more excited about the pictures that captured their accomplishment.

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Me, geared up and ready to go!

As a volunteer, I had the opportunity to rappel, and I jumped at it.

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My coworkers reminded me they would be snapping away so I better keep smiling the entire way down.

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The first step is the hardest, when you hang over the edge, before your first step.

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Once you get going, you just settle in and work your way down!

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Me silhouetted against the Times Square Building and the top structure “Wings of Progress”

It was an incredible view!

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A collage of my rappelling descent

This event was a great way to raise funds and awareness for the Boy Scouts. It’s a chance of a lifetime for the rappellers and I am glad Kodak was able to be there to help them remember it for days to come!

The Kodak Sponsored “Developing Lives” Photography Program

Developing Lives is a New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) photography program partnered with the Eastman Kodak Company. The program provides residents living in New York public housing with one-time-use Kodak cameras and educational-training workshops. The participants create a visual and oral history of daily life that, without being heavy-handed, effectively counters many popular misconceptions about life in public housing. NYCHA residents are most often on the other side of the camera lens; Developing Lives turns that paradigm on its head.

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The project was piloted at the Manhattanville Houses in Harlem in the fall of 2010, with some 20 participants equally divided between seniors and children. The project has been expanded to include a total of fifteen developments in three boroughs with close to two hundred participants.

Just this fall, the Developing Lives program added a lecture-style class setting for seniors, in addition to the classes held in a small classroom environment. The lecture classes are similar in nature to a college-level photography class and offered for free to any resident living in public housing. Currently, classes have included about 10 participants per session from 5 developments; the lecture series includes 25-50 participants and is advertised to all seniors across all NYCHA developments.

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Each Developing Lives session includes weekly one-hour classes that run for a twelve-week period. Each week instructors demonstrate a new photography technique (light, shadow, camera language, etc.) and introduce a well-known photographer whose work exemplifies that technical style. The one-time-use Kodak cameras are distributed at the start of every class and returned the following week. The film is then processed and photographs reviewed and returned. Participants are asked to bear in mind the new photography technique when documenting their lives throughout the week.

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In addition to teaching technical skills, Developing Lives also helps participants become documentary photographers. The classes discuss the art of storytelling through a photograph. All photographs are paired with handwritten captions from the photographer.

The photographs are displayed on our Studio NYCHA website, which was launched shortly after the Developing Lives program piloted in 2010  (www.StudioNYCHA.org/DevelopingLives).

The New York Daily News ran a full-page article about Developing Lives in March 2011, at the end of the pilot program.  The piece demonstrates that the truer aspects and creative richness of daily life in public housing can garner the attention of the broader public, in stark contrast to typical negative coverage. Through participatory photography, Developing Lives gives residents control over their own narrative. As one senior participant who never used a camera before put it, “Holding up the photographs of my neighbors and neighborhood was like holding up a mirror to myself and allowing me to see things I never noticed before.”

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In addition to Kodak, which donated over 300 cameras, Developing Lives’ other private sector partners include Dell Computers, one of America’s most admired American corporations, who provided laptop computers at no cost; Seeing for Ourselves, a not-for-profit grassroots photography organization that helped initiate the Developing Lives program­ and conceive StudioNYCHA.org; and Duggal Visual Solutions, a premier American imaging studio (with a client-list that includes MoMA, The Whitney, and The Smithsonian, along with many Fortune 500 corporations), which provided all lab work at cost.

Meet our team:

ImageProject Creator, George Carrano organized and curated “50 Years on the Frontlines,” a retrospective of the works of top war photojournalist Philip Jones Griffiths that The New York Times called “One of the great tragic portraits of their time, and required viewing in ours.” And in a participatory photography exhibit curated by George, “Unbroken: Photography Subjects Speak Out”, photographers from around the world provided a visual journey of their daily lives —”poignant,” The New York Times termed.

ImageCity-Wide Project Director, Chelsea Davis was born and raised in New York City. Chelsea previously established two programs in participatory photography. In 2004 she created an art class for autistic children at the Association for MetroArea Autistic Children in New York, and the success of that program motivated her to set up a similar class in 2007 in the pediatric oncology ward of St. Louis Children’s Hospital. She believes in the communicative power of art and hopes to share this with the participants of Developing Lives.

Lily Randall has ably assisted the Developing Lives program since the summer of 2012.

A special thanks to the Kodak team for helping make the Developing Lives program possible.