A funny thing happened to me at work last week. Jeff Kida, our photo editor, extended an invitation to check out 36 images shot by famed photographer Steve McCurry on the last roll of Kodachrome ever to be produced—talk about a PR coup for Kodak! The camera company knew that by giving McCurry the roll, they would get back pure gold.
If you don’t know who Steve McCurry is you, you probably know his work—specifically his famous shot of the Afghan girl with those dramatic green eyes, which appeared on the June 1985 cover of National Geographic.
Needless to say, this was a big deal; plus, being the new kid at Arizona Highways, I took it as a sign that Jeff liked me.
We arrived at Image Craft in Phoenix where we met Richard Jackson. Jackson was tasked to take each image and scan them for McCurry—a job not for the faint of heart (or shaky of hand). Jackson had to take each slide and, with surgical precision, extract the image from its cardboard casing. “It was a true honor,” he tells me. “The man trusted me.” And Jackson trusted himself to get the job done right.
After some shop talk between Jeff and the others (chop, chop Jeff! I’m antsy to see these photos!), Jackson took out two plastic sheets containing the slides, and what we saw on that light table was pretty incredible—actually, more like jaw-dropping. I didn’t “Google” McCurry before this shoot, so I had no idea where he was going to make history.
I mean, where do you go when you have the last roll of history in your camera bag?
Turns out, New York, India, Turkey and Kansas. That’s right. Kansas.
McCurry had 36 shots and one chance to get it right. The images are spectacular, especially the shots taken in India. I was mesmerized by the vivid colors, the details, the shadows—it was magical. You could see the lines etched into each face and the eyes… in many of the images, he captured this “look,” a stare that was simply unforgettable… even using a loop to view the images, you could see the depth and soul that McCurry was somehow able to capture.
National Geographic followed McCurry on his adventure and will air the documentary later this year.
Below, are some shots Jeff took at Image Craft.