Long after most tourists swapped 35mm film for the selfie stick, the red and yellow of the Kodak logo remains stubbornly visible across the tourist traps of Europe. From shop facades, to windows; umbrellas to awnings, the red and yellow – most recently defined as Pantones 485 and 123 respectively – are the most visible remnants of one of the most dominant, now forgotten, brands in history.
As an enthusiastic film photographer, my eye is immediately drawn to the Kodak signage, although I’ve long since given up finding any film in the stores the signs are affixed to. Where a range of colour and black & white films (Kodacolor Gold, T-Max, Tri-X etc) used to sit neatly in their yellow boxes, one finds miscellaneous batteries and overpriced memory cards for the unprepared photographer.
Even the erstwhile universal photographic backup, the humble disposable camera, has disappeared from view, relegated to inappropriate toilet shots at milestone birthdays and weddings.
But some shops continue on. Amidst Kodak’s faded reds and yellows (and the ever-so-slightly-less faded greens and reds of Fujifilm), there remain some excellent shops that continue to sell film photographic wares.
Châtelet-Nation Photo is one such example in Paris, a small store that sells all the major emulsions and features a lovely Kodachrome suitcase in the window. Yes, I did enquire about it; no, it’s not for sale. I did, however, pick up a roll of Fujifilm Neopan 400. I’ve never really liked the stuff, but all the kids rave about. And it’s discontinued now.
The predicament of other erstwhile Kodak stores was not entirely clear. While some clearly do not continue to sell Kodak products and likely can’t be bothered removing their signages, others retain them and a semblance of selling the advertised products.
One store in Venice offered a smattering of a sun-bleached 35mm and APS film boxes in their window, along with a couple of *massive* 512mb CF cards. Alas, the store appeared like it had not opened its doors for a decade or more. This would be consistent with its product range.
So, what’s my point? Nothing, really. Other than to state the obvious that the digital revolution came and hit Kodak and its resellers hard. In turn, the smartphone has hit the dedicated camera harder, potentially undermining the brands and technology of the past century of photography, and…(dramatic pause)
…even photography itself (???).
It’s almost a certainty that future travellers will look upon the Canon and Nikon branding in much the same way Kodak’s visible remnants are viewed today. And I’m not too sure what I think of that.