Calumet Photographic Celebrates 70 Years

In 1939, Ken Becker opened Calumet in Chicago as a storefront specializing in sporting goods that also sold some cameras. Calumet's destiny was shaped by a seemingly minor event. One day, a customer traded a metal-bending hand brake for a Deardorff camera. Becker seized the opportunity to use the hand brake to manufacture stainless-steel developing trays for local photo labs and photographers. The trays caught on,and this new manufacturing side of the business grew to include tanks, sinks and print washers.

In 1955, Kodak left the view camera business, selling Calumet the rights to its Master View 4x5 camera. This new venture set the course for other photographic innovations by Calumet in the 1960s, such as the Caltar large format lens line, the C-2 roll film holder, and the nitrogen burst film and print processors. After 40 years of manufacturing and selling its own brand of large-format, lighting and darkroom products, Calumet became a supplier of nonproprietary professional photographic products and introduced its first full-line Photographer's Catalog in 1980. More than a listing of Calumet's expansive product line, the catalog delivered useful information for photographers from technical data for large-format work to darkroom advice. The added information made the catalog an indispensable reference and established Calumet's role as an educational resource. This role continues today with the company's offerings of educational seminars, new product demonstrations, workshops, weekly e-mail newsletter and bimonthly Focus magazine.

Today, Calumet has 29 retail locations around world including the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland and Germany. Calumet's U.S. website boasts over 18,000 products from all the leading photo and video manufacturers.

The Celebration
Calumet Photographic will host a four-day anniversary event on Wednesday, November 4 through Saturday, November 11, 2009 at its 10 U.S. retail locations, call center and website. Details will be available on the company's website as the event draws nearer.