Fritz Victor Hasselblad
- creator of the Hasselblad
Born in 1906, Göteborg, Sweden. At a young age he developed an
interest in nature and especially birds. His family were importers of Eastman
Kodak, so photography was always there. He was soon a very skilled bird
photographer with contributions to several scientific magazines. He published
the book Flyttfågelstråk (The Migratory Routes of Birds) in 1935 .
The same year he married Erna Nathorst, who would remain by his side for
the rest of his life. In his twenties he worked all around the world at various
photography companies, building a large network of contacts and collecting
experiences. He also became fluent i several languages.
During World War II he was ordered by the Swedish Air Force to develop an
air reconnaissance camera, which he did successfully. The story goes that a
German aircraft was shot down over Swedish territory, and a camera is found in
it. The question goes to Hasselblad:
'Can you make a camera like this?' asked
the Air Force
'No, I can make a better one', was the answer.
The company Victor Hasseblad AB which still produced the cameras, was
founded in 1941. After the war, he continued working on a camera, this time
for civilian use.
Finally in 1948 he presented in New York the camera that still bears his
name. It was the world's first single lens reflex camera for medium format photography.
The camera came with several interchangeable accessory lenses and viewfinders.
The camera was regarded as a sensation.
From 1962, Hasselblad cameras were used by NASA in their space programs
and they were also the ones that took the pictures of Neil Armstrong and
'Buzz' Aldrin on the moon. One camera was lost in space during another
exercise, and is now (supposedly) orbiting the Earth.
In 1978, Victor Hasselblad dies at the age of 72, and all his money goes to
the Erna and Victor Hasselblad Foundation which every year awards scientific
photographers. His wife Erna dies in 1983.
Victor was a passionate photographer during his whole life, and the
following true story says how he felt about the world famous camera he created:
- One time when Victor Hasselblad were visiting the United States, one of
the U.S. Immigration officials, himself an amateur photographer,
recognized his name and asked politely:
"Hasselblad, that is just like the camera. Have you heard about the
camera Hasselblad ? "
Upon this Victor Hasseblad replied
I am the camera.