Steve McCurry – who is most recognizable for his image of the Afghan Girl that appeared on the cover of National Geographic in 1985 – took on the challenge of shooting the last roll of Kodak’s Kodachrome Film. Last August, after a 74-year run, the final master sheet, nearly a mile long, was cut up into more than 20,000 rolls in the final production run.
McCurry requested the final 36-exposure strip and after nine months of planning, and with a TV crew from the National Geographic Channel in tow, he embarked on a six-week trek around the world to expose each frame.
It’s definitely the end of an era, but the writing was on the wall for quite some time now. McCurry focused on such icons as the Brooklyn Bridge, Grand Central Terminal and Robert De Niro. He also returned to western India and ended his journey in Parsons, Kan., at Dwayne’s Photo – the last photo lab in the world that processes the film. Dwayne’s will stop developing the film in December so if you have some of the film locked away in the freezer shoot it now.
I’ve been trying to develop a list of what I would shoot (realistically within my budget) with my own last 36 frames. My list vacillates daily. In our area it would be hard not to turn a frame or two toward fly fishing, Glacier National Park, farming or even the Northwest Montana Fair with its rich colors and stark contrasting shadows and highlights. But without the pressure of actually having the last roll, it’s virtually impossible for me to formulate a list.
So while I leave you with the question, “What would you shoot?” I’ll also leave you with the Paul Simon lyrics:
They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world’s a sunny day, Oh yeah
I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So mama don’t take my Kodachrome away
Sorry Paul, innovation has done what our mothers never would have had the heart to do.
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