belly-button school of photography

A waist level shot of me by my dad in c1942 using a Kodak Folder

Toronto. Camera makers tried to categorize their products as having a better way to make photos. Using a waist level finder was one way – introducing the “belly-button school of photography” – a term of which I had never heard until Don Douglas and I embarked on a talk and slide show circuit for the PHSC. I talked about processes while Don used his Ansco camera collection to talk hardware. Some of his cameras were held at waist level to frame and focus, hence his expression for that kind of photo.

I realize now that my dad used this technique with his Kodak Brownie folder. He held the camera at waist level and shielded the little bright line finder from sunlight with his hand. The early SLRs like the Exakta used waist level viewers too. What was perhaps the best known version of waist level camera was the twin lens reflex cameras like the Rolleiflex.

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