Who Is Known For Inventing Color Photography?

By | 05/12/2022

Read Time:
10 mins


The Birth of Colour Photography

When photography was invented in 1839, it was a black-and-white medium, and information technology remained that way for near one hundred years. Photography and so was a fragile, cumbersome, and expensive process. In club to practice, photographers needed a lot of extra money and time, or a sponsor.

In that early on menstruum, the people advancing photographic technology tended to focus not on achieving colour photographs but on making improvements in the optical, chemical, and practical aspects of photography. For many, the goal was to make photography more suitable for portraiture—its most desired application. For that, photographic applied science needed to exist more stable, portable, and affordable, not more than colorful.

But people wanted colour photos. (Portraits before photography were paintings—in total, glorious colour.) By 1880, once the early technical hurdles had been overcome, portrait photographers began experimenting with color. They employed artists to tint photographers’ daguerreotypes and calotypes by paw.

British photographers introduced mitt coloring photographs to Japan, where the exercise became widespread and Japanese artists farther perfected the technique. The refined, frail hand coloring became a defining characteristic of Japanese tourist photography, the results of which were carried back to the W, influencing the art of hand coloring at that place.

This wildly pop technique persisted in Europe and the Americas until twenty years afterward when Autochrome plates arrived. In Japan, hand coloring lasted nevertheless some other twenty years beyond.

Hand colored photograph of a Japanese boat on the water
Hand colored photograph of a Japanese boat on the water
Hand colored photograph of a Japanese boat on the water
Fishermen on a gunkhole. Hand colored albumin print by Felice Beato, Kusakabe Kimbei, or Raimund baron von Stillfried, Japan, ca. 1870-1890. Paradigm courtesy of Spaarnestad Photo, Nationaal Archief, The Netherlands.


Debuted in France in 1907 by Auguste and Louis Lumière, Autochrome was the kickoff mostly practical colour photographic process. Autochromes were beautiful, but the procedure was tricky. Autochromes required longer exposure times than their gimmicky black-and-white processes. The process was too additive: the result was a positive color transparency that could but be viewed confronting a backlight or every bit a projected image. Color photography had become a possible alternative, but better color technologies were needed.

Autochrome of a man and woman sitting on a bench in a garden
Autochrome of a man and woman sitting on a bench in a garden
Autochrome of a man and woman sitting on a bench in a garden
Alfred Stieglitz, founder of the Photo-Secession, and his daughter Emmy. Autochrome by Frank Eugene, 1907. Epitome courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum, Alfred Stieglitz Collection.

Colour Positive, Color Negative Films

Enter Kodachrome film. In 1935, while working at the Kodak Research Laboratories, Leopold Godowsky Jr. and Leopold Mannes ushered in the modern era of color photography by inventing Kodachrome, a colour positive (or “slide”) film produced with a subtractive color photography procedure. The dye couplers were added during processing, requiring that the moving-picture show be processed by specially equipped labs, just the absence of dye couplers in the emulsion meant that the picture captured fine details. Kodachrome became well known for its rich warm tones and sharpness, making it a pop and preferred pic for over lxx years, despite its demand for complicated processing.

In 1936, just one twelvemonth after the invention of Kodachrome, the Agfa Company in Frg created the Agfacolor negative-positive procedure. However, World State of war II prevented release of the process until 1949. In the meantime, in 1942, Kodak released their negative-positive color flick, Kodacolor. Within twenty years, later improvements in quality, speed, and price, Kodacolor became the nigh pop motion picture amongst apprentice photographers.

1950s woman dressed in skirt sweater and jewellery sitting on a cot in a prison cell playing cards
1950s woman dressed in skirt sweater and jewellery sitting on a cot in a prison cell playing cards
1950s woman dressed in skirt sweater and jewellery sitting on a cot in a prison cell playing cards
Woman in cell, playing solitaire. Kodachrome epitome by Nickolas Muray, ca. 1950. Prototype courtesy of George Eastman Museum.

Color Photography Inspires New Creative Opportunities

With the advent of color film, the creative possibilities of photography blossomed. American lensman Eliot Porter made photographs of birds and nature with unprecedented color dash; his pictures were championed for both their scientific and aesthetic achievement. Austrian photographer Ernst Haas was the first to bring color photography to photojournalism: published byLife magazine, his series,
New York, portrayed everyday life with unrivaled vibrancy. Yet, despite these exciting developments, it would be decades earlier color photography prevailed and daily newspapers incorporated it.

Color Photography Gains Acceptance

Afterward the war, color flick photography hitting a cultural, technological, and commercial sweet spot, and there it flourished for several decades. Color film had improved and became a mature medium: photographic emulsions were more than stable and authentic, a reliable worldwide network of labs and sellers was established, and international standards were successful. For professionals, very high-quality results were possible with mod color film.

Colour motion picture, especially color negative film, was also a forgiving medium for amateurs and casual photographers (a new category of photographers). Colour images became not just something for scientists, technicians, artists, and advertisers, merely, increasingly, something like shooting fish in a barrel and affordable plenty for many people to pursue. Every kind of camera, from drug store disposables to those with the most high-functioning specialty optics and bodies, were available. People in this menses plant all kinds of uses for color film, recording everything from hazy embankment vacations to the first color images of World taken from infinite.

Astronaut on the moon beside the American flag and space vehicles
Astronaut on the moon beside the American flag and space vehicles
Astronaut on the moon beside the American flag and space vehicles
Astronaut James Irwin gives salute abreast U.S. flag during lunar surface extravehicular activity (EVA). Ektacolor epitome past NASA ,1971. Paradigm courtesy of George Eastman Museum.

Color Photography as Fine Art

Every bit a fine art medium, color photography was slowly brought into the fold. Notable advances were made by Ernst Haas, who was bridging the gap betwixt pure photojournalism and photography by using colour photography as a creative, expressive medium. As mentioned,Life (and
Vogue) had already published Haas’s color photojournalism, and in 1962, the Museum of Modern Art profiled Haas in its get-go single-artist exhibition of color photography.

It was more than than a decade later when the Museum of Modern Art exhibited William Eggleston’s color photographs. Eggleston had been introduced to color photography by American photographer, painter, and sculptor William Christenberry—yet another photographer deliberately using colour photography every bit an expressive medium. Eggleston’s particular interest was in using dye-transfer press, a method widely used for advertising materials. Eggleston was fatigued to the rich, deep colors he could create with the dye-transfer technique. Although the Eggleston exhibit wasn’t the museum’southward first color photography show, information technology did signal color photography’s inflow and is credited with legitimizing color photography in the fine art world.

Other significant bodies of fine art color photography followed soon after: German photographer Candida Höfer’s pictures of interiors and Richard Misrach’s
Desert Cantos,
both begun in 1979; Mary Ellen Marking’s
Falkland Road: Prostitutes of Mumbai
(1981); Brazilian photographer Miguel Rio Branco’s
Dulce Sudor Amargo
and Nan Goldin’s
Ballad of Sexual Dependency
(both in 1985); Bruce Davidson’s
and Alex Webb’s
Hot Light/One-half-Made Worlds: Photographs from the Torrid zone
(both in 1986); and the works of Barbara Norfleet, Joel Meyerowitz, Stephen Shore, Barbara Kasten, and Franco Fontana, all of whom also used color photography with extraordinary expression during this period.

From and then on, aesthetic appreciation for colour photography was solidified in the fine art community, opening the door to an unforeseeable number of fine fine art photographers preferring to work in color.

Photographer Candida Hfer stands beside one of her winning color photographs
Photographer Candida Hfer stands beside one of her winning color photographs
Photographer Candida Hfer stands beside one of her winning color photographs
Candida Höfer was an early on aspirant in the field of color fine fine art photography and a symbol of success in that genre. Photograph courtesy of Koelnmesse via Wikimedia Commons, CC By-SA four.0.

Newspapers Embrace Color

Newspapers had a similarly deadening only eventual acquiescence to color photography.

Technically speaking, the
Illustrated London News
was the commencement to introduce color in a paper when information technology printed color pictures in its Christmas Day edition in 1855. American readers were introduced to color in newspapers in 1891, when the
Milwaukee Journal
commemorated a new governor’s inauguration with a blue-and-red bar on its forepart page.

Magazines began using color photography for advertising in the 1890s, but the printing was expensive and unreliable. By the 1920s, the techniques had improved and colour advertising became standard in magazines.

But it wasn’t until 1954 that the first newspaper, the
Petrograd Times,
began using total color on its news pages; 4 years later, another Florida newspaper, the
Orlando Sentinel,
followed. By 1979, 12 percent of American newspapers incorporated colour, and by 1990, all just a few included color at to the lowest degree partially in their publication.

For some newspapers, reticence to embrace color photography was largely a financial issue. To print an entire newspaper in colour, new equipment was necessary and costly. For others, reluctance was well-nigh retaining the integrity of news telling. Traditionalists were of the mindset that color detracted from the news, infusing information technology with emotion and subjectivity, and depicting content in a mode that was considered frivolous or non serious.

Tradition slowed the adoption of colour in newspapers in United kingdom where a classist divide existed between high-minded newspapers and the populist tabloids. Color advertising appeared in 1936 and the Sunday Times bankrupt rank in 1962 by publishing the first color supplement. It took another twenty years or then for color to pitter-patter into daily news—led not by a newspaper but past the tabloidToday. Newspapers eventually had to follow arrange.

There was a backlash against
The states Today’due south
colour palette (considered garish to some) when information technology launched as a full-color paper in 1982, but whatsoever daze its color instigated eventually subsided or was overlooked when the advertising results rolled in. I study showed that color advertisements produced 43 percent more sales than blackness-and-white ads. At the same time, readership began to demand color (especially the younger set): in 1986, about 75 percent of all newspaper readers wanted their news in color.

In fourth dimension, newspaper editors realized that using the full spectrum of colour improved the quality of data they could communicate, offering “a wonderful new set of journalistic tools,” remarked Terry Schwadron, former deputy manager of the
Los Angeles Times
in 1993. Full colour besides immune newspapers to better compete with magazines and idiot box, both of which portrayed the world in all its colorful glory.

Newsagent shop with racks of newspaper and magazines
Newsagent shop with racks of newspaper and magazines
Newsagent shop with racks of newspaper and magazines
Colour is now an accepted and expected presence in all news publications. Newsagent shop in Paris. Photograph by Florian Plag, Bretten Daily News, 2022, CC Past two.0.

Color Photography Today

Today, of course, no 1 debates the legitimacy of portraying the news or making fine art in colour.

When digital photography arrived, information technology, too, presented technical hurdles that stopped wider adoption. And equally with colour photography, solving those problems created new opportunities for photographers and publishers. Notably, digital photography advanced color photography.

Although nosotros’ve had color images almost from the first of photography via hand tinting, for the majority of people, blackness-and-white was the default, and color was an aesthetic choice. But that changed with digital. Black-and-white digital images are shot in color first, pregnant that with digital, it’s colour past default, and black-and-white by choice.

Digital photography too made it easier to work in color past eliminating the need to bargain with multiple colour films for each lighting state of affairs. Instead, the white balance is set in camera rather than by film selection. Not having to purchase color film or pay for processing has, as well, lowered the cost of colour photography. The event is that color photography is at present more accessible and more than widely used than e’er, a almost universal human cultural experience in ways that film never was.

Interestingly, most digital cameras, even many expensive ones, produce inferior color quality. While digital color is much improved recently (especially in high-stop devices), it’s far from perfect for nigh people. For instance, digital cameras initially assign a pallid gray-salmon color to many people’s peel tones. We’re yet riding the edge of the transition to digital photography, so information technology’s very likely that people photographing with their smartphones will continue to get meliorate and better color.

Blackness-and-White or Color?

Color photography has come a long way. What’south not ever apparent, though, is how to apply color in your own photography.

Especially for burgeoning photographers, the question is when and why to cull colour or black-and-white. How does color affect our perception as a viewer? What does monochromatic imagery offer that colour photography cannot? Black-and-white technology has improved over the years, besides. Has that inverse things? What well-nigh digital blackness-and-white?

For answers to these and other questions about photography’due south divergent processes, go on by reading “Color vs. Blackness-and-White Photography: How Palette Affects What We See—and Feel”.

If yous’re set to test blackness-and-white versus colour photography yourself, have a wait through the tutorials found in the Black and White Photography learning guide and in Everything Color.

Source: https://photography.tutsplus.com/articles/the-reception-of-color-photography-a-brief-history–cms-28333

Posted by: Fusiontr.com

Originally posted 2022-02-13 00:20:01.