A century ago, before the October Revolution, Soviet Union and World War I, Russia was a different place. Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky’s photographs captured the country of Russia as it hasn’t been seen in a hundred years, and in color. They will change the way you see history: not just in black and white, but in all the colors of the real world that we see today.
Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky was commissioned by Tsar Nicholas II to travel across Russia and take color photos of the country, an unusual technology for the time. He took three photographs of the subject, one in red, green, and blue negatives, and then placed the film on top of each other to create a photo-realistic image. Where the colors are mismatched, you can tell that the subject moved between photos taken. The pictures are stunning, and offer a glimpse into history that truly brings the scenes to life.
Self portrait, 1910.
Molding a cast at Kasli Iron Works, 1910.
A woman on the Sim River, 1910.
Chapel on the site of the ancient city of Belozersk, 1909
Khan of the Russian Protectorate of Khorezm (Khiva, now Uzbekistan), named Isfandiyar Jurji Bahadur, 1910.
A woman in Georgia, 1910.
A group in Dagestan, 1910.
Svet, Artvin, 1910.
Nikolaevskii Cathedral, Mozhaisk, 1911.
Jewish children in Samarkand, 1910.
A switch operator on the Trans-Siberian Railroad, 1910.
Workers lay concrete for a dam’s sluice at the Oka River, 1912.
A woman in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, 1910.
Prokudin-Gorskii rides in a handcar, 1910.
Carrying water, 1910.
Sleeping along the shore of Lake Lindozero, 1910.
Harvesting hay, 1909.
White Lake, Russia, 1909
Emir Seyyid Mir Mohammed Alim Kha, Emir of Bukhara, 1910.
Boy leaning on a fence, 1910.
Nomadic Kirghiz, 1910.
Sukhumi, Abkhazi, 1910.
Sitting near the Tillia-Kari mosque in Samarkand, 1910.
It’s incredible to think that these photos are from so long ago and aren’t limited to black and white. Each photo has a story to tell, and the bright colors make these historical scenes feel like they just happened yesterday.