Louis Lumière – A Leading Light

Day 151 of Colourisation Project – October 5

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.

With a surname like Lumière, (‘light’ in French) it seems fitting that Louis Lumière, would earn his reputation from something to do with light.

Born this day, October 5, 1864, in Besançon, France, Louis and his brother, Auguste are credited as the very first filmmakers in history. They invented the Cinematograph motion picture camera, the first device that combined the functions of camera and projector, making it possible to project films onto a screen to an audience. Their invention gave birth to the world’s first public screening.

Louis Lumière Bef & Aft

Photo: Most likely an autochrome by Frères Lumière – Louis Lumière c 1910 – Coloured by Loredana Crupi

Their first film, shot in 1894, Sortie de L’Usine Lumière de Lyon, a film of them leaving their factory is considered the first real motion picture in history. The Cinematographe was an instant success.  Within just two years, the Lumière catalogue included well over a thousand films, all of them single-shot efforts running under a minute.

Among the most celebrated is Arrivée d’un Train à la Ciotat, which features a train  advancing toward the viewers. Legend has it that men screamed, women fainted, and much of the audience rushed toward the back of the auditorium.

Louis Lumière also invented the ‘Autochrome Lumière’ a color photography process in 1903 and launched it on the market in 1907.   Though the process had its limitations, the Lumières’ autochrome process paved the way for the commercial success of color photography and remained the principal color photography process in use before the advent of subtractive color film in the mid-1930s. Today’s photo of Louis Lumière is a fine example of an autochrome and technically what I have done is colourised what is already a colour photo. Some better examples of autochromes can be found here.

The Lumière brand remained a stalwart of European photography throughout much of the 20th century, until it was was acquired by Ciba-Geigy in 1962, eventually relinquishing its corporate name and becoming known as Ilford France in 1982.

Louis Lumière died in 1948, in Bandol, France at the age of 84.


“The motion picture entertains the whole world. What could we do better and that would make us more proud?”  –  Louis Lumière

This entry was posted in Colorization, Colourisation, Film, France, Photography and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Louis Lumière – A Leading Light

  1. Never knew the genesis of the word lumière, though in my family it is a favored one. My oldest son grew up loving light, so much so that he trained as a theatrical lighting designer and then as an architectural lighting designer. The license plate on his car was, in fact, lumière 🙂 I should send him the link to your post!


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