The most recognized cover of National Geographic depicts a haunted Afghan refugee with piercing eyes as she flees a Soviet invasion in 1984.

Photographer Steve McCurry captured that shot on a Nikon camera using Kodochrome, the popular Kodak film heralded for its rich colors and textures.



McCurry was one of hundreds of photographers from around the world to grab their undeveloped rolls of film and journey to Dwayne’s Photo in Parsons, Kansas — the last place on earth that still processes the film.

But not for long.

Dwayne’s Photo will stop accepting the film later this week, thus ending Kodachrome’s 75-year run. Last year, Kodak quit making the chemicals needed to process the film, and now the supplies have run out.

It’s the end of an era.

As for the Afghan girl featured on the cover, she lives on.

Fifteen years after shooting the photo, McCurry tracked her down. Sharbut Gula, who was 12 when the photo was taken, was married with children and still living in Afghanistan. She had never seen the National Geographic cover that made her a human symbol for the plight of refugees.



  1. Actually, Jeff, McCurry was in Stockholm or Oslo I think it was when she was tracked down by a group of searchers working for NGS. Therefore NGS sent a substitute journalist from D.C. to be the first male allowed to see her when the team finally found her. She was brought to Pakistan for an interview and photographs which were shown on the NGS Explorer show and in the magazine.