CNN Photos

Kodachrome collection looks back at mid-century America

A couple stands in front of a National Park sign; three buddies hold up their catch of the day; a woman smiles in front of – presumably – her birthday cake.

Who are these people?

Kodachrome Color Film collector Michael Williams has no idea, but he loves that their memories are saved in his collection. Inspired by the photo-sharing site Flickr and Diane Keaton’s own collection, Williams decided to buy old Kodachrome slides, scan them and upload them to his blog, A Continuous Lean.

The decades-old images were more readily available than he anticipated, and he said he finds most of the images at estate sales in the Midwest and upstate New York.

While Williams, a hobbyist photographer, doesn’t have experience shooting with film, he appreciates the era represented by these Kodachrome slides.

“Many old Kodachromes capture a beautiful sense of adventure and optimism of life in the 1950s. People were back from WWII and had new cars and wanted to explore.”

And explore they did. Williams has noticed several themes in his collection – most notably National Park excursions and fishing expeditions.

“Either fishing was America's #1 pastime in the 1950s or there was a huge community of people that fished that were also into photography,” he said.

These Kodachrome slides reveal the spirit of Americans during the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, he added. He compares the color quality to photo filter apps used on iPhones. The film “perfectly captures colors and diffuses images in the most perfect way.” Sometimes, he said, he even thinks they look fake.

Williams began collecting slides for his blog in 2008 and guessed that he has 5,000 slides. He said that while digital photography is easier, the beauty found within Kodachrome cannot be beaten.

“Paul Simon wrote a song about it. What other film could boast that?”

- Elizabeth I. Johnson, CNN

Read about Kodak's plans for bankruptcy. Have you ever shot with Kodachrome film? Share your images through CNN iReport.