Colour Photography


All of the books listed are in my personal library.

The Reproduction of Colour (6th Edition), R.W.G. Hunt, 2004

Completely revised and updated, this book has become a standard work in this area and is widely used as a basis for lectures in universities and specialist institutions. Includes information on the latest digital and printing technologies and is illustrated with many new photographs and diagrams.

L’autochrome Lumière, Secrets D’Atelier et Défis Industriels, Lavédrine/Gandolfo, 2009

In English, The Lumiere Autochrome : Secret Workshop and Industrial Challenges. This book, although entirely in French is the last word on the history of Lumière’s autochrome process, including formulas, manufacturing processes, well, everything. Limited availability.

The Illustrated History of Colour Photography, Coote, 1993

A detailed historical and technical telling of color photography from the hand tinted Daguerreotype to the birth of the digital camera. However, its continuity is often harmed by frequent breakouts describing a single process, such as “The Dufaycolor Story”, but nonetheless a book worth the price.

The Art of Autochrome: The Birth of Color Photography, Wood, 1993

The history of the autochrome is the subject of this book told by Wood somewhat in the narrative style of a novel. The story is autochrome and Wood doesn’t deviate one iota. There are two parts to this book, the first being the historical narrative and the second half entirely of images.

A History of Motion Picture Color Technology, Ryan, 1977

Although published in 1977 and stated as being oriented to technology developed in the US it nonetheless details all color systems and history beginning with Tinting and Toning and ending with Polacolor, the last additive color motion picture system. Hard to find and expensive.

Color: Life Library of Photography, 1972, 1976

Color is one volume from the Life Library of Photography. The book is typical of Time Life mixing history, technology and “how to do it” sections. Long out of print this book is nonetheless worth pursuing.

Photographs of the Past: Process and Preservation, Lavedrine, 2007

A comprehensive, clearly written, beautifully illustrated compendium of virtually all photographic processes. Geared to the conservator with comprehensive preservation guidelines and occurrences in collections from very rare to very common.

The Book of Photography, Hoy, 2005

This is a National Geographic book that comprises the history, technique, and art of photography. Although not specifically about color photography there are excellent sidebars on color such as, Autochrome – Painting With Light, and Kodachrome – Vibrant, Lasting Color.

The Dawn of the Color Photograph: Albert Kahn’s Archives of the Planet, Okuefuna, 2008

This book thoroughly covers the Kahn collection and the telling of the gathering of the collection. It contains 100’s of autochrome images either taken by Kahn or his contemporaries.

A Century of Colour Photography, Roberts, 2007

More a cultural history of photography rather than technical. Extensively covers the impact and uses of color photography and photographers from hand coloring to contemporary, with chapters such as, Documentary in Colour, and We Are All Colour Photographers Now.

Anton Bruehl: In the Spotlight, Newton, 2010

This a catalog of an exhibition of the same name curated by Gael Newton at the National Gallery of Australia in December 2010-February 2011. Thoroughly covers the images from the exhibition, the technical aspects of Bruehl’s work and his biography.

History of Color Photography, Freidman, 1945

Published in 1945 a hard to find original book. Now available electronically via download on the Internet. Mostly technical, it is a window to the processes leading up to the end of WW II.

History of Three-Color Photography, Wall, 1925

The single most comprehensive reference on color processes to its publication date; still the most comprehensive. Hundreds of patent references and very clear discussions of technical and commercial issues.

Photographs for the Tsar: The Pioneering Color Photography of Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii,Prokudin-Gorskii/Allshouse, 1980

This is a book of photographs of Russia from the decade before World War I. The photographer, S. M. Prokudin-Gorskii, showed the images in the form of a slide show to Tsar Nikolai II, in hopes of having similar exhibitions in Russian schools. The images are an excellent example of three-color photography. Other information available on the Internet.

Captured in Colour, Catalogue – AWM, 2003

From an exhibition of the same name presented at the Australian War Memorial in 2003-2004. No longer available in print but still available in electronic form on the AWM’s website.

Color Photography: The First 100 Years, Coe, 1978

An early summary devoted to color only. Good text though.

The History of Photography. Museum of Modern Art, Newhall, 1988.

The chapter on color is brief but excellent. Well illustrated and well written throughout.

A New History of Photography, Frizot (ed.), 1999.

Huge and well illustrated new history of photography with a good chapter on color which considers images as much as processes.

A Half Century of Color, Sipley, 1951.

Considers color photography, its applications and its relation to printing.

A Handbook of Photography in Colours, Bolas/Tallent/Senior, 1900

A facsimile reprint of the original book. Important because of its historical context.

A History of Motion Picture Colour Photography, Ryan, 1977

First and only edition of this very hard-to-find book, the author was awarded an Oscar.

An Experimental Study of the Lippmann Color Photograph, Ives.

This is an OCR edition without illustrations or index. Original Published by: John Hopkins University in 1908.

The Painted Photograph 1839-1914: Origins, Techniques, Aspirations, Henisch, 1996

Since the invention of photography in 1839, still images have been carefully colored or tinted utilizing a variety of techniques. This stunning example of social and cultural history traces the history of the painted photograph from daguerreotypes and tintypes to the advent of color photography. Distinguished photohistorians with an eye for detail, the Henischs write knowledgeably yet in an engaging style brightened with a touch of humor.

Photographing in Color, Outerbridge, 1940

This book, when you can find it is a treasure. Not for everyone. But for those who know Outerbridge and love to collect the history on photo workings. There are attached color plates images and even though the book is 1940’s technology, you see the compositions and technical teachings can be easily used today. Just a historical gem for those of us into photos as an avid hobby


  • Focal Encyclopedia of Photography, 4th Ed., Peres (Ed), 2007
  • Encyclopedia of 19th Century Photography, Hannavy (Ed), 2008
  • Cassells Cyclopaedia of Photography, Jones (Ed), 1911
  • History of Photography (Quarterly Journal since 1977)

Other Excellent Sources

  • Bellone, R., and Fellot, L. Histoire Mondiale de la Photographie en Couleurs. Hachette Realities. 1981. Excellent review of the history of technology and of images. Superbly illustrated. In French.
  • Hofel, K., and Gohr, S. Farbe im Photo. Josef-Haubrich-Kunsthalle. 1981. Superb exhibition catalog with great coverage of old and new processes, beautifully illustrated. In German.
  • Boulouch, N. Les Autochromes Lumiere: La Couleur Inventee. Scheibli Editions. 1995. A coffee table book that adds excellent commentary to carefully selected, largely unpublished, and beautifully reproduced images made by the inventors of the autochrome. In English and French.
  • Alschuler, W.R. On the Physical and Visual State of 100-Year-Old Lippmann Color Photographs. Proceedings of the 6th International SPIE Symposium on Display Holography at Lake Forest, IL. 1997. A brief summary of the results of a world survey of images by one of the first and least known color processes. Bibliography, no illustrations.