64 Portraits on Ektachrome: #1: Lyra

Earlier this year, the bad news was broken: Kodak had made the decision to discontinue all of its remaining slide films. Kodachrome had become a victim a couple years back, and now, Ektachrome is following it into the great stop bath in the sky.

I learned photography on black and white film and a manual camera. When I got serious about photography, it was with a digital camera, but as I look back through my collection of images, I cringe at what I have done to them with editing software. So many times, the final image is not about the image, but about the manipulation; not about the moment or the person, but about the processing. In those old images, I see a good eye and a mind that needs to grow more mature.

As I got better with my photography, I found myself gravitating toward a style that made less and less use of “creative” filters and manipulation, and that instead emphasized the capturing of pure, rich color and warm dramatic lighting. I found myself processing way less, and enjoying images more. I was shooting better, and I was seeing light better. But everything was still digital.

Then, I had to shoot a school assignment on Ektachrome. It really only took looking at that one roll of film to realize that this was the look that I had been trying to achieve with digital. Seeing that first roll of Ektachrome, as well as the next several rolls of personal work, I was instantly in love…not just in an infatuated way, but in a defining way. More than any other capturing medium I had worked with, I felt that Ektachrome most accurately conveyed what I had seen, straight off the film. It changed the way I work and see as a photographer.

So I can’t let its passing go unobserved. I mulled over in my mind for some time what I could do with the film before it became unavailable, that would honor its importance in my formation as a photographer. I finally came upon what I think is an obvious answer: on the film that helped me realize who I am as a photographer, make portraits of those who helped me realize who I am as a person. The rules of the project are simple: one roll of film–12 shots–for each person. Select one final image, but include others to show the process of the portrait and include more of the person than one frame can show. Shoot it all on Ektachrome 100G.

We’ll start with my daughter, because my wife scowls when I try to take her picture, and I’m stilling letting the inevitability of her participation sink in…I want to make sure that one is good.

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