05 January 2012

Kodak Teeters on the Brink of Bankruptcy. 5•Jan.•12

I made this image of the rice farmer near Pohang, South Korea back in the mid-1980's on Kodachrome Professional 64 with an old Nikon FM2 or similar body with a fast Nikon telephoto zoom. (I was an active duty US Marine, training in the field at the time. You know, "Back in the day...") The image was previously posted HERE on the blog when Eastman Kodak discontinued Kodachrome film in 2009. I have re-posted that original piece below after the WSJ article and link. "Wow, Just Wow..." ~cg.

Copy image of a rice farmer in Pohang, South Korea, photographed in 1985 by photographer Chet Gordon of New York on 35mm Kodachrome transparency film. The Eastman Kodak Company announced on Monday June 22, 2009 that it will discontinue production of it's popular slide film favored by professional still photographers and the motion picture industry. The company said declining customer demand and the proliferation of digital photography brought an end to its oldest and most iconic film which was available for the last 74 years. © Chet Gordon / THE IMAGE WORKS

This from today's Wall Street Journal:

Eastman Kodak Co. is preparing to seek bankruptcy protection in the coming weeks, people familiar with the matter said, a move that would cap a stunning comedown for a company that once ranked among America's corporate titans.The 131-year-old company is still making last-ditch efforts to sell off some of its patent portfolio and could avoid Chapter 11 if it succeeds, one of the people said. But the company has started making preparations for a filing in case those efforts fail, including talking to banks about some $1 billion in financing to keep it afloat during bankruptcy proceedings, the people said.

A Kodak spokesman said the company "does not comment on market rumor or speculation." A filing could come as soon as this month or early February, one of the people familiar with the matter said. Kodak would continue to pay its bills and operate normally while under bankruptcy protection, the people said. But the company's focus would then be the sale of some 1,100 patents through a court-supervised auction, the people said.

That Kodak is even contemplating a bankruptcy filing represents a final reversal of fortune for a company that once dominated its industry, drawing engineering talent from around the country to its Rochester, N.Y., headquarters and plowing money into research that produced thousands of breakthroughs in imaging and other technologies.

The company, for instance, invented the digital camera—in 1975—but never managed to capitalize on the new technology. Should it seek bankruptcy protection, Kodak would follow other well-known companies that have failed to adapt to rapidly changing business models. They included Polaroid Corp., which filed for bankruptcy protection a second time in December 2008; Borders Group Inc., which liquidated itself last year; and Blockbuster Inc., which filed for bankruptcy protection in 2010 and was later bought by Dish Network Corp. A bankruptcy filing would kick off what is expected to be a busier year in restructuring circles, as economic growth continues to drag and fears about European sovereign debt woes threaten to make credit markets less inviting for companies that need to refinance their debts.

Kodak's founder, Mr. Eastman, took his life at the age of 77 in what is now a museum celebrating the founder and Kodak's impact on photography. His suicide note read: "To my friends, my work is done. Why wait?"


"Goodbye, Old friend..." (June 2009)

Ever since I can remember, I've wanted to take pictures. Like the pros. Used to cut out images from the major magazines, and literally tape them to my bedroom wall as a teenager growing up on the NJ Shore. I'd also collect these clippings in binders and committed to memory the name photographers of the day. When I began seriously shooting slide film back in the early 80's, Kodachrome was an automatic requirement, just like the big boys. I've run a lot of transparency films through my Nikons and Leica through the years, and nothing matched the consistency, tonal range, contrast and of course flesh tones that Kodachrome film stock provided. For me, Kodachrome Professional 64 (PKR-64) was the standard when I traveled internationally. With Kodak's announcement yesterday that they're discontinuing the film, it surely marks the end of an era for those of us that know.
Yea, like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, "I've always wanted to "take" pictures. Kodachrome "made" me a photographer... -cg.

Read about it here and here.

10:45PM: More on my Kodachrome images:

After quickly producing the images of my mounted & unmounted archived Kodachrome slides earlier this morning, I was quite pleased to see that my editorial stock agency, THE IMAGE WORKS posted the files within the hour on their main search page. Nice work, guys. Now let's hope for a few "bites" from their clients on any of these images. -cg.


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