Amazingly, Laura and I had the opportunity to pay a visit to Dwayne’s Photo in Parsons, Kansas. What made the experience amazing was the fact that we visited on the last day they were accepting Kodachrome film for processing. Even more amazing than that is that Dwayne’s Photo in Parsons, Kansas was the last place on earth still developing Kodachrome. December 30, 2010 marked the day in history when Kodachrome film could no longer be processed. Kodak discontinued the film and then stopped manufacturing the processing chemicals. Kodak hand picked Dwayne’s Photo to be the last place they would continue supplying with processing chemicals.
By a random sequence of events I knew we would be driving near Dwayne’s Photo and I also knew the significance of the day. Earlier in the week Laura and I had seen a program on Sunday Morning where they discussed Kodachrome, it’s importance, and it’s upcoming retirement. Also, I had read an article in the New York Times profiling the same story. And, Parsons was just 30 minutes out of our way on our massive December road trip. So, of course, we had to visit!
Our visit was incredible. We got a full tour of the facility, had a chance to mingle with people visiting for the same reason we were (some coming from as far away as the UK), and even ran into a group of guys we had volunteered with in Nashville when we did flood recovery work. Davis Watson from Nashville was there filming for his documentary on Kodachrome (http://www.kodachromemovie.com). We also had the opportunity to meet and chat with Dwayne himself. The most memorable moment for me was when Dwayne started asking me about my photography. With my digital camera in hand, 79 year old Dwayne asked, “are you shooting film right now?” Of course I had to tell him I was shooting digital, to which he said, “do you have a film camera?” I happened to have my film camera in the car, so next he asked, “have you ever shot on Kodachrome?” I’ve scanned a ton of my family’s Kodachrome but I’ve never fired a roll myself. Dwayne finally asked, “do you want to shoot a roll?” Dwayne then handed me an unexposed roll. My first, last, and only roll of Kodachrome was given to me by the last person on earth who could process it. Dwayne told me to run around and have fun with the film but to bring it back to him before 5PM so he could process it.
Dwayne, thanks for an awesome visit and an incredibly memorable experience.
RIP Kodachrome 1935 to 2010.