These days, the accessibility and portability of digital cameras have made taking photos and capturing memories a part of our daily lives. However, when I consider the history of photography, I tend to think of it being a fairly selective activity. Cameras were expensive, and could only produce those old black-and-white pictures which just couldn’t compare to what we have now. I was wrong about that. In a recent article, Gabriel H. Sanchez, a photo editor for BuzzFeed news highlighted 23 of the earliest color photographs. These photos showed color images of the world as it was around 100 years ago.
It turns out that the earliest color photographs were taken in 1907 using a camera invented by the Lumiére brothers. They used layers of died potato starch and light-sensitive emulsions to provide the ability to photograph color with their autochrome Lumiére. Other subsequent improvements in photography made color photos even better and more mainstreamed, but these early pictures are a great representation of what the world would have looked like back then.
Evidently, I’m not the only one who was startled by pictures taken with the autochrome. Time.com describes seeing such early color photos as a jolt to many people who expect to encounter images in black-and-white. The photographs from World War I which they shared are yet another representation of the past that is now only available to us, visually at least, through pictures. How wonderful it is that we can see it in color!
The history of photography is fascinating. Photographs have remained a vital part of our world for centuries, and they continue to be one of the most effective means by which we capture moments and relive memories. These old pictures are an important part of our heritage and the fact that they’re available to us in color makes them even more of a treasure.