Steve McCurry Shoots the Last Roll of Kodachrome Film

"All good things must come to an end." It's a common theme throughout this special by National Geographic in which we follow Steve McCurry on his quest of shooting the last roll of Kodak Kodachrome film ever made. It's a pretty daunting and heavy assignment to be sure - one McCurry is no stranger to. That fact is even more apparent when we learn that it was McCurry who asked for the final roll.

McCurry's career, for all intents and purposes, began on rolls of Kodachrome - when he left his small newspaper job for India with his camera and a few rolls of that very film. Those images put him on the pages of National Geographic, ultimately giving him the recognition of being one of the greatest photographers in the world. It seems fitting that McCurry would be the one to lay Kodachrome to rest with this proper sendoff.

Chris Knight's picture

Residing in New York City, Chris is an internationally published photographer whose work has appeared in Vogue, People, MSNBC, ABC, Ocean Drive, GQ and others. He is an instructor of Photography and Imaging at Pratt Institute and the New York Film Academy.

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Great piece, only wish they would have shown it in 720 or 1080p.... :-(

I agree. It's a shame this wasn't shown in high def.

Although I worked with multiple films, Kodachrome 25 was my primary film of choice. It's fine grain, color and contrast were unparallelled. I even shot a Fleetwood Mac concert in 1980 with it, which most people wouldn't think would be possible due to it's low ISO speed. Nothing decent shooting skills and a 135mm f/2 Nikkor could help along however. ;-)

Steve McCurry came and spoke at the Eastman House a few years back in Rochester (was anyone else there?) and he went through the entire roll with us. I wish he wasn't under such a tight deadline with the last roll of such an iconic film. He spoke of the difficulties he had shooting around an already tight assignment list and working within a film crew's schedule that was following him for the assignment. The images towards the beginning of the roll were fantastic, but as the time wound down you could tell he was grasping for subjects to photograph. With one day remaining on the deadline, he still had two or three frames left and he took one of them of his feet in a hotel room. For me that was a bummer, but it was still a fantastic experience to hear him speak and he was a great choice to shoot the last roll!

Thanks for sharing that story. It's really interesting to me because the better photographers usually have a hard time filling up a whole roll of film. From what I understand, Helmut Newton was known to only use a handful of frames to get the shot right and then he let the rest of the roll to go waste. Anyhow, thanks again for sharing...

This is over a year old.

Thanks for the helpful input.

This is a cover up I had done a couple years ago, started a "Photography" arm. Same artist did a camera he had drawn up when I shot his wife for a magazine. I miss my Kodachrome!

What an incredible honor, for an equally incredible shooter.