The Last Roll of Kodachrome

In my early 20s I walked into a pawn shop and bought my first camera. It was a Canon SLR with two lenses and a bag for a couple hundred bucks. I loaded it with film and started shooting. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing but, on occasion, took a really nice shot.

After a few years of getting non-repeatable results I decided to up my game and took a class at the local community college. I had an incredible teacher. We ended up becoming friends and until he moved east we’d take pictures together. By that time I’d updated to a newer Canon SLR, learned to use a tripod, learned what f-stops were, learned the importance of 18% grey, and started shooting Velvia and Sensia slide film. The colors were incredible and my pictures kept getting better.

Then the digital revolution happened and the first DSLRs became reasonably priced. I bought one. I shot photos off and on after that, never really feeling the same way about it. Eventually I stopped using my SLR — it sits in a bag in the closet. Instead my daughter’s lives have been captured with point-and-shoot or an iPhone. Every once in a while I think of getting back into photography but frankly I never really liked digital photography and, even if I could get past the part of doing more work in front of the computer than behind the lens, I don’t have the time. I’m now in the process of reviewing all these old pictures, negatives and slides, ready to digitize the entire lot.

As you may know, slide film (maybe all film) is pretty much dead and gone. Fuji discontinued my favorite Velvia and Sensia film years ago. Kodak, whose demise is well documented, did the same with the historic Kodachrome film.

And that leads me to photographer Steve McCurry, who took what is probably the most iconic photo in National Geographic history. The last roll of Kodachrome went to him. Not only did he shoot the roll, he also recorded a half hour video on the process. After all, what do you take with the last 36 frames of the most iconic film in history? Watch the video here to find out:

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