Remembering Kodachrome

Launched in 1935 by Eastman Kodak, Kodachrome would soon become a very successful product for its maker. Kodachrome is a type of film that is called “color reversal film,” which is a photographic film that would produce a positive image on a transparent base. The end product of this process gave us transparencies which came packaged in the form of 35mm slides. The film was also produced in film camera (movie) formats for cameras of the 8mm, 16mm, 35mm, 120mm and large format varieties.

Many of the print images appearing in magazines over the years were shot on Kodachrome. Magazines and other printed materials back then had a special colorful and memorable look to them because of Kodachrome. Some of the most memorable and important photographs of the 20th century were shot on Kodachrome. If you’ve ever seen a 35mm slide show projected onto a screen, then you know what we’re going to miss here. The early years of many people’s lives were recorded on the colorfully saturated and vibrant medium that is Kodachrome.

Kodachrome was appreciated for professional and archival usage because of its extremely good color accuracy and you could store the film for long periods of time. Because Kodachrome was a color reversal film, it required professional processing and thus excluded the amateur photographer from developing the film personally. Originally, in the United States, the processing cost was included in the price of the film until that practice was disallowed in 1954.

Although Kodachrome was the first commercially successful film produced by Kodak, its use (and sales) have fallen over the years. The digital camera has now replaced film almost entirely these days. So, probably with a tear in its eye, Kodak retired our  old friend Kodachrome on June 22, 2009 – saying goodbye after a glorious 74 year run. We’re going to take a look at our old slides tonight and also say goodbye to everybody’s favorite color film – Kodachrome – but not the memories.

Mama don’t take my Kodachrome away.

Author: The Artist

Artist, Designer & Photographer