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  Rolls of film in their tidy little canisters have been replaced by flat little electronic cards that hold hundreds of photos.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.

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