Friday, January 6, 2012

Mama don't take my Kodachrome

The Kodak company has been in the news again. The company, once referred to by many in the photography industry as "the big yellow god," is sliding closer and closer to the precipice of bankruptcy.

Kodak is becoming another victim in our ever-changing world. The use of film for taking photographs has all but ceased. For decades the name "Kodak" was to photography as "Kleenex" is to facial tissue.

Back in the good old days of film, when one purchased a camera, there was a constant need to purchase, develop and print film. Kodak filled that need, almost to the point of monopolizing the industry.

There is no doubt that Kodak film was among the best ever produced. Who else, after all, has had there film mentioned, by name, in a Simon & Garfunkel song?

Kodachrome slide film is one of the most recognized products in the history or photography, or retail goods.

What is sad, even depressing, is that while film use has all but ceased, and digital photography is still skyrocketing, the archivability of digital images is still in question.

I don't know if Matthew Brady and Alexander Gardner, who were plying their trade during and after the Civil War, ever gave much thought to whether, or not, their negative plates and prints would still be serviceable in the 21st century. I do know that, when cared for properly, both glass and early film negatives are as useful today as they were when first exposed to light.

The mantra with today's digital files is, "Well, back them up!"

Failed hard drives, corrupt files on computers, CDs and DVDs are among the many things that can leave today's photographers without their valuable images.

Photography has advanced so far in the past 150 years that we now have to purchase a new external hard drive every couple of years to transfer and back up our images. I know, you can use CD/DVDs, but who is to say that they will not deteriorate?

One of the best ways to store images is off-site storage but that tends to get expensive.

In spite of the many conveniences of digital photography, there are some aspects that make me wonder just how much "better" our 21st century technology really is.

Everyone knows and understands that taking photographic images for family fun or personal fun is, well … fun. We look at photographs in our newspapers and magazines and understand the significance or beauty of the images for their immediate impact. How many of us realize that many of these same images need to survive to provide the same historical significance to future generations as we get from images such as the Wright Brothers first flight at Kitty Hawk, or the Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination?

No doubt, digital photography is great.

I do wonder, though, if the person who might ultimately have the last sad laugh, is George Eastman, as he watches from heaven and sees the company he founded pushed aside by new technology , state-of-the-art technology that may not be as reliable as that used to take photographic images of man's first powered flight.

No comments:

Post a Comment