By Grace Hetfield
Color photography has existed since 1861, but it took many years for the process of creating color photos to be perfected and popularized. Thus, we tend to view the past through a lens of black and white. It’s hard to believe that following series of photographs, with its vibrant hues and contemporary look, is over a century old.
In 1913, Mervyn O Gorman, an aeronautical engineer and amateur photographer, took these photos of 16-year-old Christina at Lulworth’s Cove in Dorset, England. Christina’s full identity was originally a mystery when the photographs were rediscovered. She was misidentified as Gorman’s daughter until it was revealed that her full name was Christina Bevan and she was the daughter of one of his friends. Gorman used a color process called the autochrome which had only been patented a decade prior. Invented by the Lumiére brothers, the autochrome was the first commercially viable color photography process. It worked through glass plates coated in potato starch and dyes that acted as a color filter. The process required a lengthy exposure period even in bright sunlight. This is why the sea looks dreamy and glass-like in the photos.