Tuesday, 19 April 2011


I need to do some more research into this, but it is beginning to dawn on me that Autochrome Lumiere (an early colour photography process using glass plates and dyed potato starch) may have everything that film photography strives for. The above picture was taken on Christmas Day 1913 by Mervyn O'Gorman, an enigmatic aviator and balloonist. The fact this is a young woman, a skyline, a beach, a lovely red parka, a breath, and a moment nearly 100 years behind us (and yet so sumptuously present) astounds me. It makes me, myself, breath more heavily, feel myself here looking at this faraway world as if through a telescope, across galaxies. 
The two plates above and below are examples of the wonderful Heinrich Kuhn's work circa 1910. It is said he was desperate to make photography as respectable as painting. Personally, I think he went a step further and unraveled a kind of impressionism out of everyday life. It offers almost instant nostalgia to see the way the lawns and meadows always blur in his photographs.  
O'Gorman's model was named Catherine and she may have been his daughter, or his niece, no one is certain. Recently she appeared on the early UK editions of Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go.


  1. Lovely process...thanks for posting.

  2. Most web sites list the model as Christina O'Gorman you list this as Catherine. There is no record in the correct time period for a Christina O'Gorman and a lot of people have looked. Can you give me any info to why you think the name of the model is Catherine ...REGARDS

  3. I was wondering what your source was for the top image being on Christmas Day ? And I, like Colin, was only aware of the girl being 'Christina' not Catherine.....hope you get to see these comments, and reply :) Many thanks