Three Question Interview with Chris Rochelle, Photographer,

Three Question Interview with Chris Rochelle, Photographer, JL: You recently photographed a series of Christmas food images for entirely on Kodachrome film in homage to the medium which is being dealt its final death blow as the last processor of the film stock in the world, Dwayne's Photo in Parsons, Kansas, ceases to support its development on December 23rd. What was that experience like? Had you shot in Kodachrome before?

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CR: Kodachrome was the first color film I ever shot with. My father shot Kodachrome almost exclusively while I was growing up -- and the Cibachrome type prints he would make from the shots were fantastic, these super shiny prints with rich reds and deep blacks; those same prints still look great today. Though, when I was 15 I thought black and white was the only real photographic medium, and then when Ralph Gibson put out L'Histoire De France everything changed for me.

These days is your preference for Digital over Kodachrome and film? Do you think its possible to re-create the same effects digitally? Were there any surprises on the shoot?

It depends on what the project is. Using Kodachrome for the Chow Christmas shoot was a philosophical choice more than knowing for certain that it might be all that different from digital. We sent off a test roll before the shoot and also during the shoot used the Mark III to stand in as our Polaroid back to see if we were on the right track with lighting and exposure. What shooting Kodachrome did was slow down the image making process and work pace which was very refreshing -- though it also achingly brought back that old nervousness of not knowing exactly how the film would turn out. The rolls were three years expired and I wasn't sure of how they had been stored for years. I did secretly hope that some strange spectral aberrations might show up and bring life back into these magazine spreads were were emulating.

What do you think it is about Kodachrome that evokes such nostalgia? Is it a reaction to the controlled directness of digital? Is it the color, the subject matter or something more basic: that your grandma and parents have shoeboxes filled with these frozen memories that evoke a "simpler" past we all wish we could revisit just for a moment?
Consider popular apps like Hipstamatic for instance, they even recreate the effect of not being able to see the whole, final image you are going to get through the viewfinder, leaving room for those surprises. We view images with their 'look' embodied in the material make-up of each technological age. Now we use filters on our iPhones to mimic previous technologies, there is this social urge for digital images to have filmic flaws -- a technique used to locate or connect a new image to somewhere much further into the past. It is simulacrum. I'm thinking of the quote by Robert Heinecken: "Many pictures turn out to be limp translations of the known world instead of vital objects which create an intrinsic world of their own. There is a vast difference between taking a picture and making a photograph."

View's 'Last Kodachrome Christmas' story here.

View's 'Behind the Scenes of the Last Kodachrome Christmas Story' including side-by-side comparisons of the shots in Kodachrome and digital here.

Got more questions for Chris?

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Check out past Three Question Interviews
Mathew Bates, Design Director at Backpacker
George McCalman, Art Director at AFAR
Joshua Gorchov, Principal at the Loud Cloud
Tim J Luddy, CD, Mother Jones
Dan Saelinger, Photographer

Maili Holiman, DD, Pop Up Magazine

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