Photos from the very last Kodachrome roll

If veteran photographer Steve McCurry’s name sounds familiar, it may be because he was the man who shot the iconic photograph of the Afghan girl that appeared on the June 1985 cover of National Geographic. That famous photograph was taken on Kodachrome film and when McCurry heard that Kodak was going to discontinue it, he convinced the Rochester based company to give him the very last Kodachrome roll off the production line. He took the roll around the world and snapped photos in “his home in Manhattan (where he is a member of the prestigious photo agency Magnum), to Bombay, Rajasthan, Bombay, Istanbul, London, and back to New York.” And what was his very last frame?

A statue in a Parsons graveyard (in the section reserved for Civil War veterans), bearing flowers of the same yellow-and-red hue as the Kodak package. (See Frame 36.) “I saw a statue of this soldier, looking off in the distance,” says McCurry, age 60, “and he’s kind of looking off into the future or the past. I figure, This is perfect. A cemetery. Kodachrome—this is the end of this sort of film—[suggesting] the transience of life. This is something that’s disappearing forever.”

Mama don’t take my Kodachrome!. You gave us those nice bright colors. You gave us the greens of summers. Made us think all the world’s a sunny day. Now I just need to find out why Maybellene can’t be so true.

View all frames here.