Sergey Mikhaylovich Prokudin-Gorky was a Russian pioneer in color photography who flourished in the early decades of the 20th century. He received permission from Czar Nicholas II to document the Russian Empire, traveling in a special darkroom mounted on a railroad car.
My friend Jack Clontz called my attention to 30 Rare Color Photographs of the Russian Empire from 100+ Years Ago, which is a sample of Prokudin-Gorky’s work. The photos give an idea of the size and diversity of old Russia. Not every subject of the Russian Empire was Russian.
When I look at old pictures, I try to imagine myself living the lives of the people in them. They would have lived in a narrower world, with harder labor and more material deprivation than I would have liked. But maybe they had satisfactions that I and my friends lack.
I wonder what they would have thought of the lives of people today—whether our life would be better or worse from their standpoint.