Color Photography

About

From snapshots to fashion photography, photojournalism to art, color photography has become so ubiquitous that it is perhaps the defining visual language of today. However, this is a relatively recent development; although early experiments with various photosensitive chemicals began in the 1840s shortly after photography’s birth, it was not until the 1890s that such chemical processes were successfully applied to the production of color film, and only a few early experimenters—mostly amateur scientists or intrepid travelers—used the medium to capture nature, cultural sites, or the occasional sitter. And it wasn't until Kodak’s breakthroughs in the mass manufacture of color film in 1935 that color photography became widely accessible, and commercial photographers swiftly adopted the new “Kodachrome” brand. In art, the delay took even longer; the watershed moment was William Eggleston’s exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art in 1976—the first major museum exhibition of color photography. The invention of digital photography and advances in printing technologies have further expanded its scope—from digital manipulation to the monumental printing techniques often associated with the Dusseldorf School of Photography—and contemporary artists continue to explore new paths for color photography, such as through the use of photograms, diaristic works, or even approaching the photographic print as a sculptural material.