Saturday, September 26, 2020

Re-discovering Kodachrome

Many, many months ago, I decided to start writing a little blog. In hopes of sharing a bright, colorful outlook on life, I optimistically named it Kodachrome Days. I wrote a handful of posts but never shared them (you will see them some day). Not really sure how to do a blog, I never quite got it off the ground. And then life, no LIFE, interfered.

A freak injury to my husband, Norm, and I became 24/7 caregiver with all its attendant stress and constant worry. An insane deadly virus slammed shut the doors to the outside world, isolating us and making me fear for our very lives. As the number of deaths rose, the fear and isolation grew. Partisanship and virulent political campaigns spewed hate and birthed concern for the very survival of our free country. Riots and protests, mammoth widespread fires, and stifling record heat made the outside world more unwelcome My whole world was changing, and somehow, I never got back to that happy place that inspired thoughts of joy, optimism, and Kodachrome.

Instead, the Kodachrome that colored my life before faded under the unrelenting weight of negativity, anger, hate and, yes, outright fear, that poured forth everywhere I looked …

Black lives matter! No, blue lives matter! No, white lives matter! NO, ALL lives matter!!! MY life matters!!!

My opponent is a liar! No, MY opponent is a liar and a cheat AND a crook!

Wear a mask. No, masks are evil!

Stay home, hide, don’t open the doors, sanitize everything! No, it’s all a hoax! Take a chance.

Live! No, you could die! Be afraid, be VERY afraid!

A few days ago, I saw photos of the aftermath of the devastating fires that have been ravaging our west coast. All that was left of a town were layers of ash and rubble reminiscent of a nuclear holocaust. Every vestige of color had been leached from that sad landscape. And I realized that is what I had allowed my life to become … grey and hopeless. Kodachrome had morphed into stark black and white.

But with that realization came a newfound determination to re-discover the color I have always found in life. It comes shining through in small moments of gratitude. All I have to do is simply open my senses to the Kodachrome of those moments. The brilliant color has never really gone completely away. It has just been hidden behind a rather powerful filter. The color  still surrounds me if I just open my eyes and look. 

So what do I mean? What am I so grateful for? 

Think of the sturdy little boy that is my nephew as he starts school, excited, wide eyed, full of life … and cancer free after a brutal battle.

Think of a small black kitten born with only two legs yet growing strong, still tumbling and playing and doing all the things any kitten does. What disability? Think of the kind-hearted woman who rescued him and saved his life.

Think of the mute button on a tv remote than can instantaneously silence the never-ending clamor of negative political ads that dominate the airwaves. At least you do not HAVE to hear them.

Think of a friend finding the courage, after months of pandemic-fueled anxiety and fear-filled isolation, to finally step outside her home to get an all-important flu shot.

Think of the thousands and thousands of public servants who do respect all lives, who unselfishly serve their country, who save lives every day while risking their own.

Think of the kind, caring respite care worker who, with simple acts of kindness, boosts the health and spirits of a man facing the unwelcome challenges of age while giving comfort to a woman on the edge of despair.

Think of the return to a small semblance of normal that comes in a simple breakfast with a much-loved daughter.

And finally think of the Kodachrome. It IS out there. I am not meant to live in black and white. None of us are.  In coming weeks, I intend to find the color again. I will share my discoveries here with you. But what about you? Where is the Kodachrome in your life? Please share it. You might just help someone turn off the black and white filter that has crept in on them. Like Dorothy stepping into Oz, maybe we can put the hope, the optimism, the positivity, the brilliant KODACHROME back into our world!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Eulogy for Kodachrome

Why, you may ask, did I choose to name my blog after a now-obsolete film even though my focus will be on self-discovery?  Well, as a long-time photographer, I guess I have a very soft spot in my heart for Kodachrome.  To me, it symbolizes vibrancy, life, color, intensity.  It is all life should be.  It is what life can be when we are conscious and aware of what I call Kodachrome Days.

Several years ago, I read an article announcing the end of an era.  To my great sadness, I learned that there is no longer anyone in the world (yes, the entire world!) who will process Kodachrome film.  A favorite of photographers for decades, it was known worldwide as THE film for capturing colors in the warm spectrum.  But over the last few years, Kodak’s production of the iconic film gradually fell victim to the digital age of photography.  Eventually, they stopped making it altogether.  Until I read the news of its demise, however, I knew I could still have my last few rolls processed.  I clung to that possibility.  Now that option, too, is gone.  And so an era has passed.

For years, I resisted converting to digital photography, partly because I did not want to give up on my beloved Kodachrome.  In my mind, nothing else, including my then-limited experience with digital images, could replace its warmth.  For someone living in the Southwest, only Kodachrome, with its intense color saturation and sun-kissed spectrum, could capture the brilliant sunlit mysteries of our desert. In my day, I must have shot thousands of rolls.  And in mute testament to that obsession, my closets are filled with boxes and boxes of slides, home to my Kodachrome Days of the past – the Grand Canyon, Sedona, Hawaii, France, Mexico, ballooning, family milestones and holidays - all the moments that have added flavor and color to my life.  Now, they – and perhaps the new Kodachrome Days I have now set out to capture in my heart via this blog - are all I have left of my Kodachrome. 

Today, my old Minolta (another casualty of the digital age) has been replaced with a snazzy new, all-singing, all-dancing Nikon and a smart phone for spur-of-the-moment shots.  Rolls of film in their tidy little canisters have been replaced by flat little electronic cards that hold hundreds of photos.  No longer do I make regular trips to the photo shop only to return days later to eagerly retrieve and view the results of my last photography efforts.  Now I have instant gratification via USB cable, a miniature camera screen and my trusty computer.

Don’t get me wrong.  I have learned to love the convenience of photography’s new age.  My pocketbook loves it even more.  But still, in my heart of hearts, I miss my Kodachrome.  We were friends for a lot of years.  Someday, I suppose, I will find the courage to toss those last few rolls that still live in the bottom of my old camera bag … but not until it stops feeling like an ultimate betrayal of an old friend.  For today I will hold on to those old rolls of film.  They represent so much to me.  Instead, I will look for ways to transform their lost potential into a way of living as I search for Kodachrome Days.  One thing is for sure.  The film may be gone, but its impact will linger with me for the rest of my days as I choose to live each day in full color.