It was with much sadness that I read the obit for Michael Chovanes, who died on January 1st. Walk through the main entrance to Bright's Department Store during the 1950's or 1960's and take an immediate left to the front corner. That was the world of Michael Chovanes...jewelry and photography.
For Christmas in 1958, my parents decided to get me a "real" camera. Previous cameras I had were point, shoot, and pray you get something better than the usual fuzzy black and white print. Micheal talked my folks into buying a Kodak Pony IV camera. It had adjustable shutter, aperture, and focus...something totally foreign to me. The camera also used a new type of film for me; 35mm Kodachrome color slide film. .He told them to send me up to see him if I had any questions or problems. I had lots of both and he always took the time to explain what I had done wrong or praise me when I got it just right.
Pictures I took from those early days are still as sharp and colorful as the day they were taken.
I spent 30 years as a high school math teacher and for many years also taught evening adult education classes on photographic technique and darkroom methods. Michael was my inspiration and I enjoyed working with my students as much as he did with me. I have a collection of 35mm SLR cameras which cover the gamut from simple to quite complex, but I still have that Kodak Pony from Michael, and it still works perfectly after over 50 years.
Michael's date of death has a connection with Kodachrome that must be more than just coincidence. Over a year ago Eastman Kodak announced that they have stopped production of Kodachrome after a 75 year lifespan. Digital photography has left little demand for the flagship Kodak film. December 31, 2010 was the absolute final day that Kodachrome would be processed by the only remaining photo lab in the world equipped to do so.
Michael left this world and took his Kodachrome with him. I will miss them both.