Vintage cyanotype photos


Over at House of Mirth, esteemed vernacular photo collector Robert E. Jackson posts about the allure of collecting cyanotypes with some wonderful examples. The ghostly image above is from the collection of Erin Waters. Jackson posted this fascinating bit from the cyanotype Wikipedia entry:

The English scientist and astronomer Sir John Herschel discovered this procedure in 1842. Though the process was developed by Herschel, he considered it as mainly a means of reproducing notes and diagrams, as in blueprints. It was Anna Atkins who brought this to photography. She created a limited series of cyanotype books that documented ferns and other plant life from her extensive seaweed collection. Atkins placed specimens directly onto coated paper, allowing the action of light to create a silhouette effect. By using this photogram process, Anna Atkins is regarded as the first female photographer.
"Collecting Cyanotypes"


  1. Wonderful!  Modern artists are using different techniques to make photographs; one is… instant coffee!
    Btw the Wikipedia Cyanotype article is excellent, I’m going to study it — thanks.

  2. I thought Anna Atkins rocked (still do) and I did a painting in her photography style in art school. The @$$holes there thought I was mimicking Picasso’s ”Blue Period”. Le sigh.

    1. I am totally bummed and embarrassed to say that this exhibit appears to be right up my alley and even though I live just across the bridge from BAM/PFA, I totally missed hearing about it until now.

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