Kodak has announed the end of production of Kodachrome film. Those who still use film will know Kodachrome film for the quality of the colour and indeed I suspect many of us used Kodachrome as our reference film for documenting the world around us.
Film tracked the industrial revolution, documenting virtually all of the past 150-odd years of history. The information revolution we are now in is less sentimental, images are chopped and cropped mercilessly in computers all over the world, and for many film is in the too-difficult box, while digital is almost trivial.
Is digital an art form? Who knows, but film certainly produced enduring images over the years.
A worthy history lesson is to look at the photography books produced in 1920s-30s for sheer tour-de-force black and while images, and the discovery of colour itself producing excitement and experimentation — kids with new toys — look for books published by Kodak, in particular a short-lived series on applied photography in the early 1930s, with images that while dated still resonate. Think of O Winston Links trains from the 1950s, and then look at product photographs of farm machinery taken at night. Makes some advertising today look positively primitive. Browse back copies of Vogue for the cutting edge of fashion photography, and then marvel at the Magnum’s photojournalism — still going strong.
End of an era, and perhaps an end of a way of seeing, too.
And on the way out, let us remember Paul Simon’s song Kodachrome.