Kodachrome 64: Remembering This Iconic 35mm Colour Film

In photography, some names evoke nostalgia and reverence, conjuring memories of an era when taking pictures meant loading a roll of film into a camera and waiting for the perfect shot. Among these names, few evoke as much emotion as Kodachrome. I had the privilege of shooting this iconic colour film, capturing many happy memories across the UK with its vibrancy and clarity. In this blog post, I look back at some photos I’ve captured with Kodachrome 64 film, the positive experience of having Dwayne’s Photo develop it, and the portrayal of its final days in the movie “Kodachrome”—a testament to its enduring legacy.

Kodachrome 64: Remembering This Iconic 35mm Colour Film
Figure 1

What Is Kodachrome?

Kodachrome was a renowned colour reversal film introduced by Kodak in 1935. It enjoyed widespread popularity among photographers for its vibrant colours (see Figures 1 & 2), fine grain, and archival stability. This iconic film reigned as the gold standard in colour photography for decades. However, with the advent of digital photography and dwindling sales, Kodak ceased production of Kodachrome in 2009. With this announcement, there was a rush among photographers to get their last rolls developed before the processing services ended the following year, marking the end of an era in colour photography.

Kodachrome 64
Figure 2

How I Got My Kodachrome 64 Film Developed

Back in the day, the price of Kodachrome covered film processing. In Europe, you put the exposed film in a pre-paid envelope and posted it to a Kodak processing facility in Lausanne, Switzerland. However, when the Swiss facility closed, they sent it to a film processing facility called Dwayne’s Photo in the US. After processing the film, Dwayne’s Photo shipped the developed film as mounted slides to the sender. Receiving them took about four to six weeks. Pretty impressive, considering how they’d travelled halfway across the world and back again! Waiting this long to see your photos is inconceivable today! Especially when you thought you’d captured some good shots (see Figure 3)!

Kodachrome 64: Sheffield Park Train Spotters
Figure 3

Dwayne’s Photo: The World’s Last Kodak-Certified Kodachrome Processing Facility

In December 2010, Dwayne’s Photo—the world’s last Kodak-certified Kodachrome processing facility, processed the last roll of Kodachrome. They donated it to the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York, to ensure its preservation for future generations. Today, the lab’s dedication to keeping Kodachrome’s legacy alive for as long as possible has earned them a special place in the hearts of many photographers. The lab also became a beacon of hope for those eager to develop their last rolls of this iconic film before processing came to a close. To no surprise, the promise of getting your film processed before time runs out is the plot for the Hollywood movie “Kodachrome.”

“Kodachrome”: A Movie About a Photographer’s Wish to Develop His Last Rolls of This Iconic Film

In 2017, the movie “Kodachrome” captured the hearts of photographers and moviegoers with its poignant story. Starring Jason Sudeikis, Ed Harris, and Elizabeth Olsen, the film follows a dying photographer’s road trip with his estranged son to Dwayne’s Photo to develop his final rolls of Kodachrome before they shut down. Along the way, they confront their past, reconcile their differences, and ultimately find a renewed appreciation for life. The film ends with the son (played by Jason Sudeikis) loading the slides into a projector and being surprised to see pictures of himself as a boy, many with his deceased mother and some with his father (played by Ed Harris). It’s a poignant ending to the film because the son always thought his father (a well-known photographer) was not close to him growing up.

As in the movie, I also rushed to get my last rolls of Kodachrome developed by Dwayne’s Photo. But via mail rather than by car! As I look back on the legacy of Kodachrome, I think of all the countless happy memories (see Figures 4 & 5) I captured with this iconic film.

Figure 4
Figure 5

Kodachrome’s Legacy

Though the era of Kodachrome may have ended, its legacy lives on in the images it helped create and the memories it preserved. The movie “Kodachrome” is a poignant tribute to this iconic film. It captures the essence of its impact on photography and the emotions associated with its final days. Likewise, nearly forty-five years earlier, so did Paul Simon’s song “Kodachrome”, celebrating its ability to capture life’s moments in vivid colour. It “makes you think all the world’s a sunny day.”

Looking at the photos of Blackpool (see Figure 6) and Tenby (see Figure 7) I’ve taken with Kodachrome fills me with nostalgia. Their bright colours evoke a sense of familiarity and warmth, transporting me back to happy days spent by the sea. Overall, I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be part of Kodachrome’s enduring legacy.

Kodachrome 64: Blackpool Tower
Figure 6
Kodachrome 64: Tenby
Figure 7

Remembering Kodachrome 64 – Photos

I shot the photos below, captured with Kodachrome 64, in October 2010, posting them to Dwayne’s Photo a few days later. The lab processed them in November—a few weeks before they developed the last-ever roll of Kodachrome! I have the T-shirt to prove it!

Where

Tenbury, Wales.

When

October 2010.

What

Contax G2 35mm film rangefinder camera and Kodachrome 64 colour reversal 35mm film.

How

I scanned the slides using the Minolta DiMAGE Scan Elite 5400 scanner and VueScan software.

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