When you think of old photographs, you naturally think in terms of black and white, but as you can see from these stunning photographs from the turn of the 20th century, color photography has been around for a lot longer than you think.


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Before 1907, if you wanted a color photograph then you (well, a professional colorist) basically had to color it in using different dyes and pigments, but two French brothers called Auguste and Louis Lumière changed all that with a game-changing process that they called the Autochrome Lumière. Using dyed grains of potato starch and light-sensitive emulsion, they were able to produce vibrant photographs without the need for additional colorization. Despite being difficult to manufacture and also somewhat expensive, the process was very popular among amateur photographers and one of the world's first books of color photography was published using the Autochrome Lumière technique.

The brothers revolutionized the world of color photography until Kodak took things to a whole new level with the invention of Kodachrome film in 1935, a lighter and more convenient alternative that quickly made the Autochrome Lumière obsolete (although its popularity continued in France up until the 1950s). Kodachrome was also eventually overtaken by the rise of digital photography (Kodak stopped manufacturing Kodachrome in 2009), which is now by far the world's most popular way to take pictures, but modern advances in photographic technology wouldn't have been possible without the hard work of early pioneers like Auguste and Louis Lumière. Scroll down for a collection of stunning century-old color photographs using their groundbreaking technique.

#1 Christina In Red, 1913

Christina In Red, 1913

Mervyn O’Gorman Report

Nancy E 1 year ago

I know she is wearing a bathing suit . What a difference in mores' today !

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#2 Flower Street Vendor, Paris, 1914

Flower Street Vendor, Paris, 1914

Albert Kahn Report

varwenea 1 year ago

This is beautiful.

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#3 Heinz And Eva On The Hillside, 1925

Heinz And Eva On The Hillside, 1925

Friedrich Paneth Report

Nancy E 1 year ago

Ah, so very perfect !

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#4 Sisters Sitting In A Garden Tying Roses Together, 1911

Sisters Sitting In A Garden Tying Roses Together, 1911

Etheldreda Janet Laing Report

Audrey 1 year ago

So beautiful clothes

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#5 Moulin Rouge, Paris, 1914

Moulin Rouge, Paris, 1914

Albert Kahn Report

John L 1 year ago

Its just too bad that those wonderful buildings on left and right are no longer standing. :(

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#6 Daydreams, 1909

Daydreams, 1909

John Cimon Warburg Report

CultOfBambi 1 year ago

She could almost be an Alphonse Mucha model.

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#7 Musing (Mrs. A. Van Besten), C. 1910

Musing (Mrs. A. Van Besten), C. 1910

Alfonse Van Besten Report

xpurinx 1 year ago

Wow, stunning! You'd think it's a painting.

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#8 The Eiffel Tower, Paris, 1914

The Eiffel Tower, Paris, 1914

Albert Kahn Report

Ani Asnever 1 year ago

Wow! This photo is most remarkable for the shot of the old Trocadero palace, seen through the tower's arch! It hasn't been there for 80 years.

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