Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Vivid images from a Lost Empire

Bellow, you'll find the work of Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863-1944), Russian photographer. In the early 1900's he began an ambitious project supported by Tsar Nicholas II where he traveled around Russian taking photographs and documenting the empire: from architecture, to landscape, advances in technology, to ethnicity, daily living and everything in between.

he was an amazing photographer, capturing the essence of the simplest moments. One of the things that makes his work most peculiar though, is that he was a pioneer in color photography and he developed a technique that consisted in taken three photographs in a rapid sequence using different filters for each image (red, green and blue) then layer the negatives to obtain a color photography. This technique allows us to enjoy his photographs of a Russia on the verge of revolution in full color.

I go head over heels for photography and nostalgia, so you can imagine my awe when I saw this images for the first time (got there thanks to Fine Little Day blog). I still spend time during the day just wandering on those images, I swear. These may be some of the most inspiring photos I've seen in my life and the fact that they are in color and were taken 100 years ago has a lot to do with me falling in love with them. There is something so nostalgic about looking into the technicolor life of someone who lived 100 years ago in a world that was about to change dramatically.

All images from The Empire That Was Russia a collection from the (US) Library of Congress.

There are a bunch of beautiful cropped images of this collection around the web, but when I got to the source in the library of congress web site, I fell in love with this un-cropped, original versions from the negative; the little defects and the way you can see the filters it's amazing. I amply recommend you to visit the entire collection and read the titles of the photos you like the most, the stories of the people/places in the photos are as compelling as the images themselves.


  1. Wow, Iveth, thanx for sharing.
    The pics are so lively and colorfull it's hard to believe the people i'm looking at lives 100 years ago.
    They really are inspiring, thank you!

  2. Oh my, these photos are so incredible and inspiring and compelling and beautiful. I can definitely understand why you would spend wandering on those images. Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. Hi Selma and Clemence! I'm so glad you liked the post and that you also feel compelled by the images!! Thanks for your comments :D