At the Hasselblad Centre in Gothenburg, Sweden, you can see the development from one of the most famous cameras in the world. Side by side with Nikon, Canon, Kodak and other large brands you can state that Hasselblad stood for quality, innovation and development. Some of the most famous photographs are shot with a Hasselblad and the camera is frequent in Hollywood productions as a sanctuary from a different era.
Hasselblad and the Moon
One of the permanent exhibitions on Hasselblad Centre is “Hasselblad and the Moon”. The first steps on the moon were eternalized by a Hasselblad camera. These photographs are a part of the most epic history of the camera industry. The exhibition shines a light on the development in camera technique and the significance and decisive cooperation with NASA. It also shows the people behind the camera and the Hasselblad foundation, Erna and Victor Hasselblad.
Interest creates needs
The interest in cameras and photography comes from the grandfather of Victor, Arvid Hasselblad. In 1885 he got exclusive rights for sales in Sweden on George Eastman´s photographic products, what later became known as Kodak. Together with his wife Erna, Victor built the company called Victor Hasselblad AB. He started making contacts with conspicuous scientists, well-known photographers and of course astronauts. The couple had a large interest in nature and Victor himself was a good bird photographer. During this time there was a great need for a heavy-duty quality camera which resulted in developing the first Hasselblad camera. This was the first camera in middle size with exchangeable components, for example an exchangeable film garner and objectives. These characteristics were important to NASA when they, in the 60s and the 70s, worked on space trips with humans on board. These cameras had a very high quality for tis pictures and were able to be loaded with film in advance to save time and work. The camera simply made to last in space. During all moon landings between 1969 and 1972, NASA used a Hasselblad. With the help of the camera, the world got to see the moon as they never had before. Also, the pictures of the earth were epic in both quality and simplicity.
Starting the foundation
In the 70s the couple sold the business and started the Hasselblad foundation in 1979. The company that bought the rights to the Hasselblad camera was called Säfveån and despite having changed owners several times, they are still making quality cameras in the Gothenburg area. In the foundation they unite their engagement for research, photography and science. The purpose of the foundation is still today to make sure that research on photographing and science progresses. The foundation hands out a yearly price, the Hasselblad award, which is an internationally known and desirable prize in the world of photography. At the moment the prize consists of a gold medal and a prize sum of 1 000 000 Swedish crowns, about 100 000 euro. The award winner is announced on March 8 which is the birthday of Victor Hasselblad. Later in the year there is an exhibition with the work of the winner and a symposium for the award winner. The foundation nominates an award committee consisting of prominent people in the business and branch and their task is to appoint the winner for next year.
Neil Armstrong said, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind” and it was immortalized by a Hasselblad.