Kodachrome 64 is dead. It changed my photography career.

Collected images.
June 26 2009 7:20 AM

Homage to Kodachrome 64

They just discontinued the film that changed my photography career.

Click here to see a slide show of photographs shot in Kodachrome.

Kodachrome 64 and I go back to 1976. This faster variety of Kodachrome was then two years old. The first time I used it, I loved it.

Until then I had used High Speed Ektachrome and pushed it to higher speeds so that I could shoot with low light. I believed that I would get to know the world by photographing the lives of residents of urban ghettos.

Advertisement

But with Kodachrome 64, I went from being mainly a photographer of poor people to an urban photographer. The buildings I captured changed so rapidly that I decided to rephotograph them as often as I could. What had until then been background for my images became my main interest. Soon I was photographing from different vantage points to better show the urban fabric. (I became a photographer of public housing, since the poorest urban communities are often those with the tallest projects. ) In my photography, people became smaller and smaller. I was often asked: Why don't you photograph people?

The small barbecue place at 5134 W. Madison St. in Chicago first attracted my attention in 1981 with its stone veneer. Since then it has been one of the first places I visit whenever I'm in the city. It has been a vegetable market, a fish market, a variety of barbecue outlets, and an empty shell. In 1989, 5134 W. Madison got a larger entrance, and in 1994, a window with bars. The same year razor wire was placed on the roof. Ten years later, a picture window was added, and the razor wire was taken down. In 2009, the building added a video camera.

These images of 5134 W. Madison St. in Chicago survive in Kodachrome 64, a slow and long-lasting film. It was discontinued on June 22.

Click here to see a slide show of photographs shot in Kodachrome.

Camilo José Vergara is a 2002 MacArthur fellow whose books include American Ruins and How the Other Half Worships. You can see more of his photos on his Web site and can contact him at camilojosev@gmail.com.

TODAY IN SLATE

History

Slate Plus Early Read: The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.

Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Transparent Is the Fall’s Only Great New Show

The XX Factor

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada

Now, journalists can't even say her name.

Doublex

Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

What a Juicy New Book About Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric Fails to Tell Us About the TV News Business

Does Your Child Have Sluggish Cognitive Tempo? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

  News & Politics
History
Sept. 29 2014 11:45 PM The Self-Made Man The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 29 2014 7:01 PM We May Never Know If Larry Ellison Flew a Fighter Jet Under the Golden Gate Bridge
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 29 2014 3:10 PM The Lonely Teetotaler Prudie counsels a letter writer who doesn’t drink alcohol—and is constantly harassed by others for it.
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 29 2014 11:43 PM Lena Dunham, the Book More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 29 2014 8:45 AM Slate Isn’t Too Liberal, but … What readers said about the magazine’s bias and balance.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 29 2014 9:06 PM Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice Looks Like a Comic Masterpiece
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 29 2014 11:56 PM Innovation Starvation, the Next Generation Humankind has lots of great ideas for the future. We need people to carry them out.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 29 2014 11:32 PM The Daydream Disorder Is sluggish cognitive tempo a disease or disease mongering?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.