A collection of the last images captured on Kodak’s Kodachrome film spanned the walls of the May Gallery last Friday to commemorate the film stock’s retirement. Webster University students and faculty showcased their now-rare photographs using historical film.
Ashley Armburster, a senior photography major, had her work on display. She was one of the students who traveled to Dwayne’s Photography in Parsons, Kansas at the end of December for the processing of the final rolls. Armburster had been a part of May Gallery shows before, but this one stood out to her.
“This (show) feels different to me because it’s (of) a bigger importance,” Armburster said. “I’m getting to share an event in history with several of my classmates, fellow photographers, faculty – it’s bigger than just a class.”
Dwayne and Grant Steinle of Dwayne’s Photography, father and son, and special guests to the show, traveled from Parsons, Kansas to be present for the opening. Dwayne Steinle, who said he had slides taken in Kodachrome dating back to the 1940s, explained the historical importance of the film.
“It’s the Cadillac of film,” Dwayne Steinle said. “Kodachrome has always been the best there is, and we really hate to see it go. People who really desire quality are going to miss it.”
Along with the gallery displays, copies of the Webster University Press book, “End of the Run: Photographs from the Final Batches,” were being sold. The book is a collection of the Kodachrome images Webster students and faculty produced.
The project began in a photography class last spring. After photography professor Susan Hacker Stang introduced Kodachrome rolls to her class, the idea arose to have the used rolls developed on the last day, scheduled for Dec. 30, 2011. After getting permission from the dean and Dwayne’s Photography, the project was under way.
“It was a student inspired project that grew into the show and then the book,” Stang said. “It really ascended in a really nice way.”
Thirty-six students and nine faculty members took the film and over the summer and captured some of the world’s last Kodachrome pictures.
“Kodachrome is known for its brilliant colors – it’s a really special film,” Kate McDonald said. “I wanted to find the right images and waited for the perfect lighting, get the most out of it since it’s the last time we’ll be able to do it.”
Stang credits the Kodachrome for its quality and the students for their hard work to produce the prints.
“The first level of quality comes from the Kodachrome itself. I think the students took this project extremely seriously,” Stang said. “The pictures are stunning… everything (here) is worthy of the book and worthy of the show.”
Dwayne Steinle said he’ll not only miss the business the Kodachrome brought his company, but the historical film he has grown fond of.
“I think (the pictures) are absolutely gorgeous,” Dwayne Steinle said. “You’ve got a great bunch of pictures and a great bunch of students and faculty who teach them. It’s very impressive.”