Luthuli Museum

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Thursday, 24 Jun 2021
Sunday, 16 October 2011 21:31

Dr Albertinah Luthuli: baby photograph

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Dr Albertinah Luthuli, eldest daughter of Chief Luthuli, born 15 March 1932. 

From Gerhard De Bruin, Silverzone Photography:

One of our virtual visitors asked for more information about how these prints were produced since they look like paintings. Professional photographer, Gerhard De Bruin offers the following explanation:

"The chances are very probable that the baby photos (LutMus2004.01.001 and LutMus2004.01.002) were taken with a vintage studio camera using either the “wet” or the “dry” Collodian  process. These cameras produced a fairly big glass plate negative, and only one photo at a time could be taken.

Subjects had to keep extremely still during exposure to avoid “blurring” the photo. In some instances neck and body clamps were put behind them (out of sight to the eye) to keep people still, thereby explaining a lot of rigid and stiff looking people in the old photographs.There was a long and difficult process of preparing the “negative” with chemicals beforehand, then slotting it into the camera in pitch darkness, take the photo and then later developing it and finally making a print. This process, because of the excellent quality pictures it produced, was used in some cases for many years post 1900 in photographic studios.

After the (in those days only black and white) prints were made, the picture was later sent to an artist (or some photographers did it themselves) to be coloured in by hand with special brushes or pencils to give it the look of colour. Thus a lot of the pictures in the end did actually have the look of a painting. This colouring process of black and white prints was used right up the 60's and 70's, especially with wedding and studio portrait photos as not a lot of people could yet afford colour photos, and also the technology for it was not really all that good yet."

Additional Info

  • Object Name: Print, Photographic
  • Object ID: LutMus2004.01.001
  • Creator: -
  • Date: Early 1930s
  • Description: Dr Albertinah Luthuli, eldest daughter of Chief Luthuli, born 15 March 1932.
  • People: Luthuli, Albertinah
Last modified on Wednesday, 26 October 2011 10:59


Laura Gibson currently manages the digitisation and collections management project at Luthuli Museum, Groutville, KwaZulu-Natal.

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