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December 3, 2022

Rare Color Photos Bring to Life the Front Lines in World War I

Although color photography has existed since at least 1879, it didn’t become popular until many decades later. The overwhelming majority of photos taken during World War I were black and white, lending the conflict a stark aesthetic which dominates our visual memory of the war.

Hans Hildenbrand, one of nineteen photographers employed by the Kaiser to document the war, was the only German to take photos of the war in color.

His scenes are all posed, not for reasons of propaganda, but rather because the film he was working with wasn't sensitive enough to capture movement. 

One of the most striking things about Hildenbrand’s oeuvre is how freely he recorded scenes of destruction. During World War II, both sides became much pickier about what kinds of scenes they would let photographers document. While in World War I, images of destroyed churches were a persistent motif.

(via Der Spiegel)

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