Tag Archives: Kodak

Photographer Paul Markow on Kodak

Paul

It’s always sad when a grand old company like Eastman Kodak fails. I spent the first 25 years of my career using the unquestionably best photographic products in the world. Kodak film and papers were the best products money could buy, and Nikon had no rivals. Unfortunately, Kodak, like some other venerable companies (U.S. car companies GM, Ford etc.) and a Japanese company called Nikon, forgot how to compete. They believed they could rest on their well-earned laurels and that no one would ever use their rivals. Kodak in particular disregarded the power of the professional user, saying that we only accounted for 5 percent of sales. That’s like Nike saying that the NBA only accounts for 1 percent of their sales, so they can ignore Michael Jordan. People do follow the pros, even if they are buying an amateur version of the product. My father always said, “all you have in business is lead time.” All of these companies gave up their lead time and let their rivals close in and then eventually pass them. General Motors and Ford, after 30 years, are finally starting to compete with Japan again, and Nikon has only recently started making worthy professional cameras to close the gap that they had given Canon. As for Kodak, it gave its innovative leadership away to Fuji and that, combined with the company’s inability to transition to digital, created the death spiral that culminated into last week’s bankruptcy.

It saddens me that this has come to pass. I loved Kodak and was proud to use their products. I believe, and this is only my opinion, that the arrogance of “Too Big to Fail” is what leads to this conclusion.

 ~Paul Markow

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Kodak Files Chapter 11

It’s a sad day for many photographers today — the company that gave us the first hand-held camera has filed for bankruptcy. You can read about their Chapter 11 filing from Reuters below……… and don’t forget to check out our blog post about Steve McCurry and the Last Roll of KODACHROME.

Eastman Kodak Co, the photography icon that invented the hand-held camera and helped bring the world the first pictures from the moon, has filed for bankruptcy protection, capping a prolonged plunge for one of America’s best-known companies.

The Chapter 11 filing may give Kodak, which traces its roots to 1880, the ability to find buyers for some of its 1,100 digital patents, a major portion of its value.

It may also help Kodak continue to shrink a business that still employs 17,000 people, down from 63,900 just nine years ago.

Kodak also obtained a $950 million, 18-month credit line from Citigroup so it can keep operating during the bankruptcy process, which it expects to complete in 2013.

“This is a necessary step and the right thing to do for the future of Kodak,” Chairman and Chief Executive Antonio Perez said in a statement on Thursday. Continue reading

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Steve McCurry and the Last Roll of Kodachrome

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.

At the light table

Jackson and fellow photographer checking out the slides

Dazzled by McCurry's work

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