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Say Cheese! Remembering Sylvania Flash Cubes, Instamatic and Fisher Price Pocket Camera

Sylvania Flash Cubes

Sylvania Flash Cubes

There’s no telling how many times our family would get ready to take pictures at some major family event only to discover the Sylvania flash cubes or  the Instamatic was broken. I remember holding these things up to the light so many times to see which bulb was busted.

I feel very little nostalgia for this vintage camera stuff. They were a real annoyance and in many ways are symbolic of pictures I don’t have. They were pricey, and if you weren’t near a K-Mart, they could be hard to come by.

A 1980s Kodak Instamatic X-15

I’m glad photography has come so far and that it’s so much easier to capture life in pictures now than it was when I was a kid. The advancements in photography over the last 40 years, since the oldest Gen Xers were kids, has truly been game-changing. From LCD review screens and digital chips to auto-focus and fast lenses, taking great pictures has become as much about artistry as it has historically been about knowledge and skill. Nobody has to worry about F-stop anymore!

These changes have occurred in lockstep with changes in journalism, too.

Kodak Instamatic Camera 104

Kodak Instamatic Camera 104

80 Percent of Journalism – Visual Communication 
I work in public relations and advocacy, and photography has become more and more important to my work. Did you know that 80 percent of journalism is now visual communication? I manage the Oklahomans for the Arts facebook page. If I wrote a status update about legislation that threatened to end all arts education funding, it would probably draw 20 or so responses. But, if I post a single, amazing photo or illustration that communicates the importance of arts education, it might draw several hundred “likes” and several dozen “shares.”

So, I am always thinking about what will engage people visually. Sometimes, this feels like a cheap trade, but that is not the case. If you can communicate concepts to people visually you’ll stay on their radar and then when you really, really need them to support your cause, it’s more likely they’ll be there for you.
If I had to rely on an Instamatic camera and flash cubes to do this, I’d be toast. So, it’s pretty interesting how much advancements in photography have contributed to cause marketing and grassroots advocacy.

For those of you who do feel nostalgia over Sylvania flash cubes and Instamatics there are lots of fun products on Etsy featuring the brands.


1.  Hand-pulled block print of the Instamatic by 30 Silent Mockingbirds.
2.  Vintage camera note cards by Just Daisy.
3.  Sylvania Blue Dot Flashcubes pillow by Fifi’s Finds.
4.  iPhone case by Phoney Graphics inspired by the Instamatic.


Now, here’s something I do feel a little nostalgia for — the Fisher Price Pocket Camera. These were very popular during my toddler years. The one below was introduced the year I was born, 1967.

hoto by Olor de Gladiolas

I am hoping to buy a Nikon D-5100 in the next month or so. When I do, I’d like to give beloved Nikon Sugar Baby D-60 to my daughter Juliette. She has a lot of natural talent when it comes to photography and is planning on taking a class next year in school. I know before it’s over with, she’ll be able to teach me a thing or two!
Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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  1. Jennifer

    I’m glad you saw it. I love your work!

  2. Sunni @30silentMockingbirds

    Aw thanks for including my Instamatic Print and a link to my store! Great post and I love your blog!

  3. yogiabb

    And the expense of film. Electrons on digital cameras are free.

  4. Jennifer

    I am *trying* to read the manual. Ha! I agree – film photos are very different. I miss them, but not how difficult the good ones were to come by.

  5. Jennifer

    I wish I still had my FP camera.

  6. Jennifer

    Now, that is funny and succinctly states something that has perplexed me for a few years now. =0

  7. yogiabb

    I really really like my digital cameras and am amazed at what they can do while realizing that if I read the manuals I could do much more but I love my varied collection of film cameras. There is something about the look and feel of film photos that just does “it” for me. The flash part of film though is a major annoyance from 40 years ago up to the present day. The low light setting of my Canon does fine.

  8. Andi Fisher

    I had the Fisher Price one – totally forgot that!

  9. Brett

    And with all of this amazing software for image reproduction more than half the shots I see posted on my Facebook newsfeed are Instagrammed into looking like an old Polaroid…

  10. Jennifer

    I wish I’d realized before I published this post that it wasn’t Friday. This is how my week has been!


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