Digitizing Rare Edwardian Images That Are Too Fragile to Display

In 1903, the Lumière brothers, Auguste and Louis, patented the first widely available color photography process, called autochrome. Their method—which involves dusting a plate with dyed potato starch particles before loading it into a camera—revolutionized photography and cinema, yet autochrome photos are rarely seen today. Extremely sensitive, with a single transparency, these images are ruined when exposed to light and thus hardly displayed—even at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum where there are over 2,500 autochrome photos, which have been taken by celebrated photographers as well as amateurs. A new book, Colour Mania: Photographing the World In Autochrome, by curator Catlin Langford, offers the world a glimpse of these images. Published by Thames & Hudson, the book presents the carefully digitized photographs while exploring autochrome’s impact and subsequent abandonment within an increasingly visual society. Learn more at The Times.

Image by engineer Mervyn O’Gorman (1913) courtesy of the artist and Victoria and Albert Museum