The Last Picture Show


Kodachrome is dead! Long live Kodachrome!
I wasn’t alive the first
time it was sold to the public, but I own a set of slides taken at the
1939 World’s Fair, where Kodak made its stunningly crisp film available
to one and all.

Kodak announced last year that it would retire Kodachrome, the
popular color-reversal film it had manufactured since 1935. Last week,
the last roll of Kodachrome came out of a laboratory in Parsons,
Kansas. Kodachrome requires complex processing that cannot be done by
mere amateurs and the one processor still in business will close its
lab this December.

Although others may have unexposed rolls, Steve McCurry, well-known
for his 1984 photograph of Sharbat Gula, or the “Afghan Girl,”
published on the cover of National Geographic magazine, asked Kodak to
be allowed to shoot the last roll of 36 frames it manufactured. (Listen
to McCurry on NPR here.)

According to The Vancouver Sun:

“National Geographic has closely documented the journey
of that last roll, down to its being processed. Dwayne’s is the only
photo lab left in the world to handle Kodachrome processing, so
National Geographic Television producer Yvonne Russo and National
Geographic magazine senior video producer Hans Weise found themselves
in Parsons earlier this month, along with McCurry, with the final roll
of the iconic film of the 20th century. As a professional freelance
photographer, McCurry has used Kodachrome film for 35 years.”

The Huffington Post notes in an “Elegy for Kodachrome;”

“Kodachrome is part of our history, part of the fabric
of our culture, still vividly coloring the dreams of our collective
memory. But it is gone from our life.”

Kodachrome is dead! Long live digital photography!
Still, I wonder what will be the next revolution?
[Extra: If you missed Saturday’s Daily Heller on Bert and Harry Piels go here. And if you were at the beach on Sunday, go here for “Music for the Eye“]


Daily Heller, Imprint: Print Magazine's Design Blog

About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.