Peter Eavis on Kodachrome
One of the last photographers shooting Kodachrome in Manhattan, Peter Eavis’ work is part of a long history of color photography on the island’s streets. His best frames are crafted with late afternoon and early morning light, especially in winter.
Eavis has documented the transformation of Manhattan over the past decade, from the Wall Street meltdown to the rebuilding at the World Trade Center. The photographs show these larger events reflected in the faces of people working in the area. Eavis also used Kodachrome for perhaps its greatest purpose: making family photos.
Watching your photography over the last few years, it’s clear you not only study the great street photographers, but you studied this particular film stock. It’s best known as the colors of Americana in the post-war years, what did Kodachrome offer to street photographers?
It sees light like the human eye. It’s quite possible that, when exposed properly, Kodachrome can competently and attractively render bright light and shadows in the same frame. Black and white films manage that, but color ones rarely do. Also, Kodachrome’s color palate was 95% authentic. And the extra 5% added an inauthentic luster, but in a way that nearly always helped the photo.
What aspects of color or light unique to Kodachrome were you looking to capture in your work?
In real life, color and light combine to reveal the soul of a scene or a person, at a particular point in time. That’s what photographers are often after, no? These two photos were taken of my children at different times, in the same complex – a converted pier on the south of Manhattan. Kodachrome captured them just how I wanted to.
You’ve experimented with the digital Leica, did you find that to be a good replacement, or are you still waiting for digital to ‘catch up’ to Kodachrome?
Gear is usually inconsequential, but I still think film images are usually superior. People feel this, even people with no film-consciousness. My daughter posted some film shots I took of her soccer team on her Facebook page, and her peers commented on the image’s quality, without any prompting. Here was a totally non-film generation responding to the punch and liveliness of film. Here’s the photo in question:
I am waiting for the Kodachrome app for the iPhone, of course.