Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The last roll of Kodachrome

Award-winning National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry shot this photo of an Afghan girl for the magazines cover in 1984. The photograph is one of the magazine's most recognized pictures. What isn't as widely known is that the medium the photograph was shot with is perhaps more iconic than the photograph itself: Kodachrome slide film.

Immortalized in a Paul Simon song, Kodachrome has been used by professional photographers for decades for its color saturation and archival qualities, until now. Last year Kodak discontinued the film in favor of concentrating on its digital offerings. There is only one photo lab in the world processing the last rolls of Kodacrome in circulation, Dwayne's Photo Service in Parsons, Kan.

McCurry was given the last roll of Kodachrome ever to come off of the production line. The roll was recently processed at Dwayne's, but it's contents are a closely guarded secret until next year, when it will be the subject of a National Geographic documentary.

National Public Radio did an interview with McCurry last week after completing his shoot. Take a few minutes to read or listen to it. It provides some great insights into McCurry's thought process. What got my attention was how nervous he was shooting assignment. I guess it's good to know that even very accomplished and successful photographers like McCurry still get nervous once in a while.