The Stories They Tell

Sam Campanaro

What started as a private joke snapshot, the 15 Babies went on to become the most popular Colorama in the 40 year history of the program.  Sam was also the photographer on several other Colorama projects: XXIV Olympiad, Seoul-Sam Campanaro and Bill Cafer on 10/17/88; Live Aid-Sam Campanaro; the Statue of Liberty Centenial-Sam Campanaro and True Promise - Class of 2001

For forty years, the Kodak Colorama hung on the east end of the Great Hall at Grand Central Station in New York City. The 18x60-foot backlit transparency was called the biggest photograph in the world, and Kodak photographers changed it about once a month.  The Coloramas were photographic billboards that simply, yet eloquently advertised photography.  Photographic appeal and general interest were the top two considerations in the making of any Colorama.

A custom-built enlarger projected camera-original color negatives to Colorama size.  The enlarging process was done in precise, successive steps, one step for each print film panel.  About 450 feet of print film were needed for the test strips and panels required for each 18 x 60 foot transparency.  The photos were enlarged onto successive strips of Ektacolor print film, each 19 inches wide and about 20 feet long.  After processing, the 41 strips were spliced together with transparent tape to make one, giant display transparency.  As technology improved,, print film 40 inches wide was used and only 20 panels were needed.

In 1984, Sam Campanaro and Marty Czamanske had a hard time convincing Kodak management that a picture with 15 babies would be perfect for the Colorama. Campanaro was inspired by his daughter's birthing class reunion photo and Czamanske was a new dad. It was the most popular Colorama image ever.  Sam redid the same 15 kids when they became 2 1/2 and again when they started kindergarten.

Sam with his 15 Babies
University News article about Sam Campanaro