I’m at that point in my life when almost any news story makes me think about my parents. (Especially any stories about people throwing stuff at each other.) When I read my buddy Andrew Schneider’s thoughts on the end of the Kodachrome era, even that triggered a memory.
My parents were not particularly talented photographers, but both liked cameras. My mother because she’d worked for Polaroid as a “demo girl” when she was in her early 30s. (That’s her in the photo.) And my father because he liked any image-preserving media, visual and audio. He favored Kodachrome, I think because it was Kodak’s signature product and they sponsored one of the TV news hours he anchored early on in his television career.
(Early in my childhood all our bread came from the Western Massachusetts bakery that sponsored him, called Dreikorn’s. Nutritionally this stuff probably made Wonder Bread look like whole grains.)
I never used the 35mm cameras we had lying around, but I was the anointed Polaroid assistant, standing by to apply that waxy fixative on the fresh black-and-white prints. I loved the weird smell of that stuff, which came in a small cylinder and was applied with the handy roller brush that fit inside. The fumes from that, along with the rubber cement in my mother’s newspaper office–and a daily dollop of secondhand parental cigarette smoke–surely combined to give me the sharp intellect I have today.
Now there are tools that allow you to make your regular photos look like vintage Polaroids.
When they can figure out a way to bring back the smell of that fixative, I’m in.