The Death of Film Is Felt Hardest In the City Built on Kodak's Reign

Illustration for article titled The Death of Film Is Felt Hardest In the City Built on Kodaks Reign

Rochester, New York is the city where George Eastman founded the company responsible for making photography an everyday part of American life. Although Kodak is still a household name, the digital age has gutted what was once a thriving industry. Traces of the film giant can be seen echoing throughout Rochester in the photography of Catherine Leutenegger.

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Leutenegger's book, Kodak City, is a tour through the sleepy upstate New York city that Eastman set up shop in circa 1880. The images provide a sober look at the Kodak facilities and the surrounding people and places that live in their shadows. Throughout the series are melancholic collisions of a dilapidated corporate culture and the grandeur of industry. Even when Leutenegger takes her camera away from the Kodak buildings, you can feel its ghost lingering.

Illustration for article titled The Death of Film Is Felt Hardest In the City Built on Kodaks Reign
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Illustration for article titled The Death of Film Is Felt Hardest In the City Built on Kodaks Reign
Illustration for article titled The Death of Film Is Felt Hardest In the City Built on Kodaks Reign
Illustration for article titled The Death of Film Is Felt Hardest In the City Built on Kodaks Reign
Illustration for article titled The Death of Film Is Felt Hardest In the City Built on Kodaks Reign
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Illustration for article titled The Death of Film Is Felt Hardest In the City Built on Kodaks Reign
Illustration for article titled The Death of Film Is Felt Hardest In the City Built on Kodaks Reign
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Anyone familiar with the recent history of photography is aware of the tragic fall of Kodak—how despite being at the forefront of early digital technology, they failed to capitalize and were eventually swallowed by more forward-thinking competitors. Just as tragic is the loss that photographers who still shoot film feel as the precious materials necessary for the craft are in danger of disappearing all together.

The problems of cities like Rochester go deeper than the plight of a single company, of course. It is not alone among neighbors like Buffalo and Syracuse whose manufacturing-dominated economies have taken hard hits in recent decades. Through the example of a giant like Kodak, a company universally recognized and even beloved, the consequences of technological shifts are brought sharply into focus.

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You can purchase the book Kodak City, published by Kehrer, on Amazon.

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[Lenscratch]

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DISCUSSION

wellpunchmeinthefaceandcallmesally2
wellpunchmeinthefaceandcallmesally

I live in that city and am also a working photographer. Much of my family have worked for Kodak and have been subsequently laid off over the recent decade. I'd like to point out that Kodak's tanking was not entirely due to the "failed to go digital" excuse we all hear over and over and over. Do some research and pull up local D&C articles about how that despite the demising profits the top execs continued to ramp up their personal bonuses each year each year to a point where they had "laid off people" practically days before they where due for retirement, just so they could avoid paying out well earned pensions.

There's plenty of stories of shit like this happening here; Execs gutting every dime out of the company to ensure that they come out just as rich rather than using that money to recover from the damage they suffered. They had even taken government money which in turn went right into fat pockets, and we all sat back and watched!!! Like it was obvious that they where just running with thousands of dollars at the worse times imaginable!! This is the kind of shit that really killed kodak.

Dumping loyal employees and stuffing cash into their pockets, it's fucking sickening, but did anyone seem to care? But hey Let's go watch find out what Kim kardashian wore at her "secret" wedding! Right PEOPLE?!!??!