See What Steve McCurry Did With the Last Roll of Kodachrome Film Ever


Kodachrome film, one of the first successful color films in history, was discontinued in 2009, as Kodak recognized that digital cameras were making physical film obsolete. But, before it was all gone, legendary photographer Steve McCurry (who had used Kodachrome in a substantial amount of his work) asked if he could have the honor of taking the last roll.

Taking those decisive last 36 shots was an event unlike any other, so McCurry’s longtime employer National Geographic tagged along for the ride and documented him as he painstakingly chose what subjects would be worthy enough. The fascinating half-hour video captures both the precision and spontaneity of McCurry’s work, as he wanders through various parts of New York and India, reveling in simply observing the world around him. Along the way, he offers advice on taking meaningful photos and makes us a little sad to see film fade away so fast, replaced by the safety and security of digital cameras and memory cards. In years to come, we will undoubtedly miss the raw and thoughtful images produced from knowing that, like McCurry, there is only so much film left to use.

Luckily, he was kind enough to let us share a few of his actual shots, which certainly do Kodachrome the justice it deserves.

Rajasthan, India, 2010. Photo credit: Steve McCurry

Rajasthan, India; 2010; A Rabari girl. Photo credit: Steve McCurry

Rabari woman, Rajasthan, India, 2010; A woman from Rajasthan, India wearing her red garment. Photo credit: Steve McCurry

Rabari, Rajasthan, India; 2010; An elderly Rabari woman. Photo credit: Steve McCurry

Rabari, Rajasthan, India, 2010; A young boy from Rajasthan, India. Photo credit: Steve McCurry

Actor Robert De Niro in his screening room in Tribeca, Tribeca, New York, NYC, 2010, USA. Photo credit: Steve McCurry

Grand Central Terminal, NYC, New York, USA, 2010; A view of Grand Central Terminal in New York City. Photo credit: Steve McCurry

The last photographic lab in the world that develops Kodachrome is located in Parsons, Kansas, The last frame was taken in a Cemetery in that town, USA, 2010. Photo credit: Steve McCurry