Mar 09 2016

The last roll of Kodachrome. Ever. What would you photograph?

Kodachrome boxKodachrome
They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world’s a sunny day
I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So mama don’t take my Kodachrome away

Paul Simon, Kodachrome 1973

The colour film Kodachrome was a sensation when it was introduced by Eastman Kodak in 1935.

For the next 74 years, it was used to shoot the world’s most iconic photographs and movies. It is said to be “the best film ever made’ because of it “rich true colour” and “legendary durability”.

However, by 2009 digital photography had completely overtaken the market. Film photography was in such decline that Kodak announced it was discontinuing the poduction and processing of Kodachrome.
Sharbat GulaNational geographic photographer, Steve McCurry, had a Nikon camera and loved to take a photograph.

He wanted to write the last chapter in the book about his favourite film – a film which he says produces “the best rendition of reality”. He has a portfolio of more than 800,000 photographs, including the famous ‘green eyed’ afghan girl that became emblematic of the plight of women refugees.

Kodak agreed to his request, and the last roll of Kodachrome to come off the production line in Rochester was delivered to McCurry in Ney York.

There are 36 shots on one roll of film. What would he shoot? Where would he shoot? and who would he shoot?

McCurry’s decisions are outlined in a 25min National Geographic short film. It gives an excellent insight into how a photographer sees the world. No instant gratification when using film – Steve can’t see any of the shots till he has taken them all.

When he was finished, in July 2010, there only one place left in the world where you could get your Kodachrome developed – Dwayne’s Photo in Parsons, Kansas. Even Dayne ran out of the required chemicals soon after.

You can watch the film here, but if you want to cut to the chase, you can see (most) of the 36 photographs on Steve McCurry’s website.

Hat tip to my Teacher of the Day – Millie.

What I Learnt On 9th March in other years

9th March 2012 Training's OffTraining’s Off

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