A number of years ago, my husband brought this website to my attention. These are the photographs of a man named Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii, a photographer who lived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and whose photographic method allowed him to win the funding of Tsar Nicholas II. He travelled the Russian Empire, documenting in full, vibrant and gorgeous colour, a sampling of the vast and diverse scope of the Russian Tsarist regime short years before war and revolution caused it to disappear forever.
I was absolutely fascinated. Here were villages that had, in many cases, been untouched by electricity and the modernity of industrialization, but were documented in photographs so vivid and intense that they might have been taken yesterday. I kept coming back to them again and again. I couldn’t get over the colours–I always assume that somehow life was duller and less colourful in those old black and white photos (I know otherwise intellectually, but with no information to interpolate colour, my mind tends to infer drab shades). Not so. Continue reading