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How Steve McCurry chose the final 36 photos taken with Kodak's legendary Kodachrome film

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McCurry kodachrome
McCurry kodachrome

Photographer Steve McCurry built a career shooting with Kodak's fabled Kodachrome film, capturing thousands of mesmerizing images during his tenure at National Geographic with "Afghan Girl" at the top of that list. So when McCurry asked Kodak for the last roll of Kodachrome that would ever come off the line in 2009, the company was quick to grant his request. Despite having shot with the film — which he describes as "the best rendition of reality" thanks to its punchy colors — for 30 years, McCurry still found choosing the final 36 images to be a tall order.

National Geographic was on hand to document, shot-by-shot, the entire roll McCurry ultimately came up with. The accomplished photographer dedicated a six-week trip to the cause, traveling wherever he pleased in pursuit of the right subjects. "I wanted this to be something from me, something from my heart," he says. McCurry carried around a DSLR for practice shots, turning to the Kodachrome-loaded camera only when they proved worthy. The entire video, now available from McCurry on YouTube, rewards viewers with tips on how to take better photos regardless of format. Still, seeing the effort Steve McCurry put into those final 36 portraits before finally taking the film off for processing in 2010 should be a treat for photography fans. And if you're impressed enough by his work, there's also a book that forever preserves those last shots.