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Americans in Kodachrome  
By Guy Stricherz
Illustrated. 90 pp.
Twin Palms Publishers. US$60.00
ISBN-10: 1931885087 / ISBN-13: 9781931885089

Inspiration for Americans in Kodachrome came to author and editor Guy Stricherz in the form of a 1952 Kodachrome slide sent to his family by a friend in 1985. The perfectly preserved tiny square of color showed Stricherz's family on the lawn of their Emunclaw, Washington home and amazed Stricherz with its sharpness, clarity, and vividness of color. It opened his eyes to the possibilities of portraits of nostalgia that were captured by Americans in the first great wave of color photography. Slides made from early Kodachrome color film did not fade the way the film negatives and photos of later photography technology do. Stricherz realized this meant there is a great trove of slides in the attics, closets, and shoeboxes of ordinary Americans who participated in our fond tendency to take snapshots of families, friends, pets, events...all the ordinary moments of our lives.

That moment of inspiration provided by the 1952 family slide led to 17 years of searching for and collecting Kodachromes taken by amateur photographers between 1945 and 1965. The result is an extraordinary book of photography that portrays an earlier and simpler time in our modern history. The quality of these reproductions is so high that it is hard to believe the originals are up to 60 years old. Stricherz used a technique called “Dye Transfer” to print each of the slides he included in Americans in Kodachrome. Dye Transfer is a rarely-used technology that is similar to the Technicolor process that was used for the first color features, such as The Wizard of Oz. Stricherz is an expert in this printing process, a qualification to which the pages in Americans in Kodachrome silently but colorfully attest.

The prints in Americans in Kodachrome are nothing special, and everything special. They are simple snapshots of everyday people doing everyday things...catching a fish, having a picnic, drinking beer on the back of a pickup, or just standing and squinting into the sunshine. In these anonymous particulars, however, there is a sense of a sort of American universalism brought forth in the photos that is extremely appealing. There is no sentimentality here, no touch-ups or professional posing. In one photo, a "lady hunter" crouches with her rifle over her prey. On the facing page, a woman in a red skirt slouches in a chair, grinning impishly at the camera. There is no commentary, no text to interpret or distract. There is simply page after evocative page of shots of life in America.

This is another of the uniformly high quality works readers have come to expect from Twin Palms Publishers.

Thomas Eddings, for Notable Book Reviews
Notable Book Reviews received one or more copies of this book in exchange for this review.
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