When I first looked through the Prokudin-Gorskii collection, right away I started thinking “how am I ever going to choose one of these for the blog?!” So instead of choosing just one, I chose a few – and I’m going to analyze Prokudin-Gorskii himself!
As we discussed in class, something all of these images have in common is that they are in color, and the ones I chose have particularly vibrant colors. For the time period, this was highly uncommon. While Prokudin-Gorskii was not the creator of this method of color photography (called the three color principle), he did effectively use it to record and document the Russian Empire.
As a photographer myself, I find his work extremely interesting and enjoyed looking at it through the social and economic perspective of late Imperial Russia. After doing a little research on him, I found that he was born into the Russian nobility. He graduated from the Institute of Applied Sciences in St. Petersburg, where he studied chemistry, and then traveled to Paris. He wrote books, taught school, and helped perfect camera designs.
Prokudin-Gorskii’s images of the vast Russian Empire reveal just how vast the social structure of Russia was during this time. I find it ironic that as a noble, he basically took photographs of those who were exact opposites of him. While people like Prokudin-Gorskii had access to things like college, the resources to build a camera, money, etc., the people we see in his photographs are the ones who we most often associate with Imperial Russia: the poor peasants.
It will be interesting to see how this social gap changes and evolves through the course of Russian/Soviet history. I have an idea on what is going to happen thanks to Dr. Nelson’s Soviet Culture class, but I can’t wait to learn even more about it in this one!
These images are titled (in order): Melon Vendor (1911), Fabric Merchant (1911), A Group of Workers Harvesting Tea (1907-1915), and On the Karolitskhali River (1907-1915)
They were created by: Prokudin-Gorskiĭ, Sergeĭ Mikhaĭlovich, 1863-1944, photographer
The permanent record here: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/prk2000000564/
Biographical information on Prokudin-Gorskii: http://www.oxfordartonline.com.ezproxy.lib.vt.edu:8080/subscriber/article/grove/art/T069807