Did Steve McCurry Do Justice to the Last Roll of Kodachrome?

Courtesy of Steve McCurry/Magnum Photos, ©Steve McCurry

Magnum photographer Steve McCurry pulled strings two years ago to get his hands on the last roll of Kodachrome film that Kodak produced. Now Vanity Fair has posted a slideshow of the images McCurry shot with that film.

So how did he do with the final frames of this legendary film stock? Did he do justice to the roll? And if not, to whom should Kodak have given the film instead? (View the rest of the images here.)

10 Responses to “Did Steve McCurry Do Justice to the Last Roll of Kodachrome?”

  1. ben roberts Says:

    better than i expected.. a shame about the celebrity portraits, although the first de niro image is pretty cool.

    like any roll of 35mm there’s more filler than killer – however frames 6, 11 and 22 are standout. i like that McCurry shot some random personal images as well – we all get to that stage with 35mm where you just burn through a few exposures just to reach the end of the roll – a selfie, a hotel room interior, a picture of a friend (erwitt) larking about.

    i liked this more personal, carefree approach more than the celebrity portraits that dominated the early part of the roll. after all, thats the essence of 35mm and kodachrome, right?

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  3. Jeffrey Micheal Says:

    No, I don’t think he did. He used the last roll to shoot images that are just repeats of previous work.

    While I admire his portraits greatly, it would have been nice to see him shoot something special or new. Instead he chose to do what so many shooters, crank out the same image time after time.

  4. Susan Ayers Says:

    Loved #15 and #18…. shows Kodachrome colors at their finest.. gonna miss those..

    Frame 27 was awesome.. love the depth, the shadows, the framing of the individual….

    Frame 33 was ironic with the superman tshirt in front of Gandhi’s statue…

    Frame 36 was a interesting image… looking to the past? Developing the last of an era? I liked it…

    Other than those, he really just kind of wasted the roll… I mean really.. His feet and the TV? I saw nothing redeeming there.. Image 19 was a duplicate image of 18? Wasteful.

  5. Mikko Takkunen Says:

    I wish Steve McCurry would have given us the names some of the Indian people he took portraits of. Only the actors, writers, and photographers are named. Sure, if you take photographs of some random people in the street (i.e. frames 28,26,33, or 35), you don’t need to name them, but when you actually take the time to do a portraits of people, like boy in a tea shop in Dharavi (frame 8) and the Rabaris (frames 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21,2, 23, 24), I’d expect you to show some respect to them by also taking their names down. I know this is an old issue, and I have great appreciation of Steve McCurry as a photographer, but this was something that annoyed me with this series. The photographs themselves are pretty much superb throughout.

  6. shahn Says:

    I think it may be deceiving to call these the last kodachrome shots cos they all seem to have been ‘enhanced’ in photoshop (i’m guessing). There’s a high-pass filter look to all that dont seem natural to film.

    I do think most of the shots are quite nice though in their rich tone. Esp. love the grand terminal one.

  7. Rick M Says:

    And in keeping with another, time-honored photographic tradition, other shooters instinctively bitch and nitpick every frame from the sidelines. If this isn’t the perfect send-off for the last roll of Kodachrome I don’t know what is.

    Reminds me of the old joke:
    How many photographers does it take to change a light bulb? 50. One to change the bulb, and 49 to say, “I could have done that.”

  8. Tsu Takamto Says:

    @Shahn. You’ve obviously never shot with film, especially Kodachrome. You must be a product of the digital era. Not that it’s a bad thing, but to automatically assume the look of Kodachrome is PSD’d with a high pass filter shows your lack of experience. P.S. – because is not cos.

  9. Allan Johnston Says:

    @allanjfoto Steve McCurry has his own look and feel I dont want to bitch and nitpick every images as I see it its a body of work and you need to all at all not just one.

    What are we singing now Don’t our Fujichrome away? I just went and stocked up for a project and had to get it from England. Film slows you down and makes you think rather than being random as we see many being today.

  10. Wolfgang Says:

    Yes, Steve McCurry finished perfectly in the tradition of Ernst Haas, who started his color photography with the early Kodachrome 25. In addition, McCurry gave a glimpse into what photographers shoot in their time off and for fun. What more do you want from just 36 frames?