Charles Phoenix's Slide of the Week: THE END in Kodachrome, Somewhere, USA, 1969


Broken twigs cleverly placed on a lawn spell out what happened to our beloved Kodachrome this week. Yes, the fine folks at Kodak, in Rochester, NY, announced that the granddaddy and gold standard of all color film has been discontinued. The last roll of Kodachrome film has left the building.

It is the end of yet another Americana icon.

Kodachrome first hit the shelves in 1935 in the form of 16mm movie film. 35mm slide film and 8mm “home” movie film came a year later. Ironically it was two musicians, not photographers that invented the miracle medium. Both had the first name of Leopold. After world war two masses of mom and pop photogs embraced Kodachrome and generously documented the colorful cultural explosion of Americana.

Kodachrome is a very luxurious medium to be documented in. When used correctly it lavishes its subjects with depth of light and shadow, clarity and a color spectrum unlike anything known to mankind. But processing the worlds most famous film is no easy task. It takes chemists working with cantankerous machinery to do the job. And, by the way, if you have Kodachrome film that needs to be developed now is the time because there is only one place left that can do it, Dwayne’s Photo in Parsons, Kansas. It’s probably going to take more than an hour.

Kodachrome slides changed my life. It was 1992; I was meandering through a thrift shop, which at the time wasn’t unusual for me, when a blue shoebox marked “Trip across the United States 1957″ caught my eye. I opened it up and it was full of slides. I held a few up to the light and knew immediately these orphaned Kodachromes were a treasure with my name on it. I haven’t stopped collecting slides since. I find slides to be little time traveler vehicles providing a quick and easy ride-a-long to another place and time. They are without a doubt my medium of choice when it comes to studying mid-20th century American life and style.

Kodachrome film may be gone but may the slide shows never end.

Have you been documented in Kodachrome?

Here’s to both Leopolds, Kodak, Kodachrome and YOU!

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