Every time we see a photo from the distant past, we see it in black and white. Because of that colorless nostalgic feel, it makes it difficult to imagine those moments as real, true moments that happened. It just does.
That may be why the entire Internet is totally captivated by these gorgeous color photographs taken by Mervyn O’Gorman, who used potato starch to make these vivid shots pop with beautiful hues back in 1913. Mervyn’s technique is technically called “autochrome.” The photos were taken of his daughter, Christina, over 100 years ago — and they’re absolute perfection.
According to Mashable, O’Gorman was 42 when he took the photographs. He was an electrical engineer and author, but his passion and hobby was photography. Clearly, it was a hobby not well-wasted.
According to the National Media Museum, the photographs were taken on the beach at Lulworth Cove in the English county of Dorset. “The comparatively long exposure time has given the sea a glassy quality,” says the Museum, “and the large aperture setting and narrow depth of field has put Durdle Door in the background into soft focus.”
The effect is dream-like, ethereal, and with very few hints as to the time period, it almost feels as though the photographs just appeared out of thin air. Christina looks like a dream herself in a beautiful red swimsuit, one of the only things that hints to the year in which the photographs were taken. It was lucky (or perhaps planned) that Christina wore red, as it’s a color that autochrome captures exceptionally well.
O’Gorman passed away in 1958, but it’s amazing to be able to see this window into his — and Christina’s — life. These photos take our breath away, and we find ourselves falling in love with Christina and wondering what her life was like. While she remains a bit of a mystery, her pictures tell a beautiful story. Check out this rare, colorful glimpse into the past:
This close-up looks remarkably modern. Those gorgeous beachy waves are in style now, and that red hood looks like it could belong to a jacket in our closets.
The location of this photograph isn’t known, but it’s thought to be the gardens of Rempstone Hall near Corfe Castle in Dorset, according to Mashable.
O’Gorman’s family: his wife Florence is sitting in between their two daughters. Florence passed away 14 years after this photograph was taken.
We are totally floored by the gorgeous vividness of these photos and feel blessed to be able to get this look into a past that our ancestors would have known. (And it’s all thanks to potato starch.)
(Images via the National Media Museum)