In case you missed it with all the New Year hoopla and CES coverage, the photography industry has seen an era come to an end. Kodachrome, the first commercially successful color film which was created by Kodak all the way back in 1935, will no longer be processed. A lab, Dwayne’s Photo, in of all places, Parsons, Kansas was the only lab still willing to process the film that needed developing.
Back in 2009, Kodak announced that it would cease production of the film as a decline in sales no longer made the line economically feasible. Ending production of the film also meant Kodak would stop producing the chemical needed to develop it. In recent years photographers have moved to digital forms of media or newer films, and who can really blame them. With digital media, photographers can take as many photos, good or bad, with little if any additional cost and don’t have to engage in the time consuming development process.
This is an interesting story in itself, but the story about what happened to the last two rolls of Kodachrome film almost brings tears to your eyes, as a great American era comes to a close. Steve McCurry has taken some of the most famous photos with Kodachrome film, including the infamous 1985 National Geographic cover of a young Afghan girl. Kodak gave McCurry the last roll, and the photographer hand delivered that very roll to Dwayne Parson after he was finished shooting. He has posted some of the last 36 photos on his blog.
According to The New York Times, the very last roll to be processed belongs to Dwayne Parsons himself, and he has said the final frame will feature all his employees in front of the store in commemoration of the film’s retirement.
These are great photos for sure, but knowing they are the last photos ever taken with Kodachrome film make them that much more riveting. It’s kind of sad knowing that digital has taken over the photography world. Our very own Sean Aune posted a very moving piece on his own blog about the nostalgia of actual printed photographs. No more will we be cleaning out the attic only to find a box of old photos we haven’t seen in years. Those nostalgic and emotional times will be behind us.
What are your feelings on the end of Kodachrome? Do you think other physical films will will see the same demise? Will our grandchildren look at photographs the same way our kids look at vinyl records?