Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Kodak Kodachrome Film Retired at 74

It wasn't so long ago that people waited two days to a week before they saw their vacation photographs. If you wanted to take more than 30 shots, you carried extra rolls of film. If you wanted to send them to friends, you kept the negatives and ordered copies (or made them yourself if you had access to a darkroom). My toddler nephew will no doubt be flabbergasted to learn people actually went to the supermarket to develop pictures into prints or that we even bothered doing so.

Before the days of digital photography, when people still stored their photographs in big heavy albums on bookshelves instead of servers and hard drives, Eastman-Kodak was an enormous company, even considered a 'tech' company at one time. The relentless onslaught of digital photography technologies have slowy pecked away at the company, which is now a hollow shell of its former self after a reorganization, and struggles to survive in the digital age.

First, companies stopped developing new 35mm cameras around the turn of the century. Now they hardly manufacture them anymore, as most everyone buys a digital camera. With the exception of a few 35 mm SLR and medium format size cameras that still have tiny niche markets, one might be hard pressed to find a simple point and shoot.

Now, Kodak has retired what was once their flagship product responsible for building their brand name. Kodachrome film, once the bread and butter of Eastman-Kodak, has slowly declined over time, and as of this year, the company will no longer manufacture the product.

I took a black and white photography class in university, and learned to develop black and white film in the dark-room. Although I only shot on black and white film, and usually used Ilford B&W film instead of Kodak (I found it often easier to work with and more forgiving of my beginner mistakes), I know many professional and amateur photographers will sorely miss using Kodachrome, as they've no doubt grown accustomed to using it over time.

Many famous images from around the world were shot on Kodachrome film, including photographer Steve McCurry's haunting 1985 National Geographic cover of an Afghani refugee girl. So for the sake of sentimentality and nostalgia, I'm linking up this slideshow of famous Kodachrome images. How many of them can you recognize? How many of the locations can you identify? How many have you visited?

KodaChrome Slideshow

Tribute to Kodachrome: A Photography Icon

National Geographic


Ilford Photo

Image © Steve McCurry

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