5 min read

Walking with #Kodachrome

Walking with #Kodachrome

Photography: I developed an interest in film photography while living in Los Angeles in the late 2000s. At some point, I was convinced that in order to learn photography, you should use film for a few years.

Waiting a few weeks or months to see the photographs allowed me to simply go out and photograph and not have anxiety over the results. Then when you did finally see the negatives, you’d often be surprised with the results. I particularly enjoyed finding frames that I’d completely forgotten about. That became one of my mantras, make photographs that I’d forget. Surprise myself, as best I can.

Soon I found myself obsessed with film, and that led to all sorts of conversations around Kodachrome. It doesn’t take much to fall into the Kodachrome nostalgia rabbit hole. Then at one point around 2007, I learned that its days were numbered as it was too expensive and nobody was using it anymore. So I decided I better order some rolls before I no longer had the chance, if for nothing more than nostalgia.

Scanning: Dwayne’s in Kansas was the last lab that processed Kodachrome. I mailed my rolls to them, and when they returned I used a cheap, small viewfinder to review them. I looked at them for days.

Back then, I was using a Nikon CoolScan but scanning the slides was difficult because I didn’t have the patience or maybe the knowledge to do it correctly. I ended with a handful of photos that I shared on Flickr, but for the most part, I didn’t show many because I couldn’t get them to look right.

Archive: For years the slides sat in my closet. I would periodically look at them and started to make an edit, separating the keepers into their own slide box. The edit started to hold up after time but the photos were an after thought while I was making new work in New York City.

Over the years, I started to enjoy knowing they were stuck in my closet, in the archive. It felt appropriate and as if that was the plan all along.

“Oh, I have some old rolls of Kodachrome gathering dust in the closet. Some day I’ll pull them out of the archive.”

There are many that believe photographs get better over time. I tend to agree but really we’re changing so our perception of the photographs changes as we grow and have new experiences. As a photographer, it’s virtually impossible to escape viewing the photographs apart from the experience in making them, but over time, it does become easier as our memory starts to fail us.

Editing: When I moved to Saint Cloud a month ago, and unpacked my negatives I looked at the slides again. This time I felt I could figure out how to scan them to be satisfaocroritly presentable.

My new strategy was to scan the keepers, and then make test prints (not done yet!) From there I would select the best ten, and then have those slides scanned at the lab so I can make final prints.

Along the way, I figured it would be a nice interlude to share here as I keep working through my New York backlog and new work from Saint Cloud.

Walking: I do not remember these walks as any different than my other walks in California, which at this point is such a distant memory that I barely remember more than the warm electric sunshine. All along I knew my memories would be contained in the photographs.

But something has changed. Looking at these photos doesn’t trigger the usual flashbacks. I cannot look at a single frame and recall the moment. It’s somewhat disturbing, and unusual, and makes me wonder if I actually made these photographs.

Fiction: In 2067, an individual in Singapore obsessed with tracking down the last remaining known Kodachrome slides found a reference to some slides from the mid 2000s in an archive dedicated to obscure roaring 20s digital publishing on things called newsletters.

The individual was able to track down relatives of the photographer and discovered the slides were still in possession of the family, some of the last remaining physical photographers from the photographer who they said tossed most of his negatives and prints in the river after he vowed to give up on photography. They donated the slides to the collector as they didn’t see any value in such an archaic media format.

Ideas

  • Create a collage out of the slides and call it Kodachrome [Los Angeles 2006-2007]
  • Sell the slides at a flea market and embed a secret message to see if anyone will track me down
  • Incorporate the keepers into a final series of color work from California and close that chapter for good with a limited edition book.
  • Let this newsletter be the last mention of the slides…
  • Throw all of my negatives in the river and pivot to painting.

Kodachrome Links


I’m a photographer, writer and strategist from Saint Cloud, Minnesota. This is my newsletter on art, walking, and mindfulness. Each issue, I share new work from my projects and try to make connections between ideas, articles and people that fascinate me. You can email me at info@bryanformhals.com or follow me on Instagram & Twitter