Death of Kodachrome by Adam Bunch

Today, at a small photo shop in Parsons, Kansas, a roll of Kodachrome film will be processed for the very last time. Like ever. In the history of the world.

The story of Kodachrome goes all the way back to the 1930s, when a couple of friends went to see an early colour movie and thought it was total crap. They were, weirdly, musicians with scientific training and the two of them—violinist/chemist Leopold Godowsky Jr. and pianist/physicist Leopold Mannes—set to work inventing their own colour film. That is, in their spare time, when tone or the other of them weren't busy doing stuff like playing in orchestras, failing to live up to the reputation of their super-famous concert pianist father or marrying George and Ira Gershwin's little sister.

By 1935, they'd done it. And before long, Kodak would be selling Kodachrome as the first mass-marketed colour film in the world. Over the next seven and a half decades, the film's rich colours produced some of the most famous images in history. The shot of Earthrise taken on Christmas Eve by the first men to ever orbit the moon. National Geographic's iconic "Afghan Girl". The Queen's coronation. Paul Simon wrote a song about Kodachrome. There's a state park in Utah named after it.

But in recent years, photographers have pretty much stopped using it. Kodak quit making new rolls. And  now, there is only one store in the world who will process it: Dwayne's Photo in Parsons, Kansas, population 11,000. And today, they officially throw in the towel and process their very last roll.

Here, briefly, are some of our favourite Kodachrome photos. Kodak has also put together a flash gallery of Kodachrome photos, which you can check out here.

"Afghan Girl" by Steve McCurry

"Earthrise", Christmas Eve, 1968

Queen Elizabeth II

London, 1949

Steve McCurry

New Mexico, 1954

 Glacier National Park, Montana, 1963

"Kodachrome" by Paul Simon

Adam Bunch is the Editor-in-Chief of The Little Red Umbrella and the creator of The Toronto Dreams Project. You can read the rest of his posts here or follow him on Twitter here.


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