Squarespace advert (Pic: Squarespace)
Definitely one for the Soviet camera detectives… (Pic: Squarespace)

Squarespace is a US website builder and software company which hosts more than a million websites and has a valuation of more than $1.7bn (£1.32bn).

It is, as its latest ad hints, the company that will “get eyes on your work with a professional looking portfolio”.  To underline that, there’s a pair of spectacles and…. a Soviet camera.

There’s been a trend of late for adverts appealing to creative types to lean on analogue tropes like notebooks and maps and film cameras (Kosmo Foto wrote about the trend in this article a few years back).

In the UK, one of the most high-profile was an ad for UK opticians chain Specsavers with Australian singer Kylie Minogue cradling a Soviet Zenit-E camera. Well, Soviet camera fans take note: the Squarespace add has gone one better by including a Kiev-19.

The Kiev-19 was one of a range of Nikon F-mount SLRs made by Arsenal (the makers of the Kiev family of cameras) made from the 1970s until the 1990s. In the Squarespace ad, the Cyrillic “Kiev” nameplate has been removed, but it is still recognisably a Kiev-19; one of the camera’s most distinctive features is the shutter selector dial on the front of the camera.

Skim through any major stock photo agency and you’ll find plenty of examples of old film cameras shot for inclusion in just this kind of digital campaign – quite a number of photographers seem to be in central Europe, where old Soviet cameras won’t exactly be uncommon. A generation of old Soviet cameras picked up in junk shops and flea markets may be finding fleeting fame as artful accessories in adverts.

So, in 2020, a company urging people to make the most of their 21st Century digital selves is leaning on a very analogue camera made in the Soviet Union at least 30 years ago.

Stephen Dowling
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