Seeing Things for the First Time

One of the most intriguing aspects of photography as an art form is the inherent impact of technology—there’s a fundamental conversation between the photographer, the subject, and the way in which that subject is being captured. What defines photography is not just the perspective and viewpoint of the photographer, but also the medium itself. And as we look back on generations past, it’s often hard to transcend that layer of technology and experience those images in any way other than in the monochromatic tones of the particular film technology that was available at that time.

Which is what makes images like the one above so extraordinary. While by no means the first color photograph, it is an image from an era that, in the minds of people today, is defined by shades of gray. It is part of a series that gives a fascinating insight into what lay beyond the viewfinder in the late 30s and early 40s.

The series was taken by photographers of the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information, and are reportedly some of the only color photographs taken of the effects of the Depression on America’s rural and small town populations. It is the property of the Library of Congress and was included in a 2006 exhibit “Bound for Glory: America in Color.”

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