Russian peasant girls offer berries to visitors to their izba, a traditional wooden house, in a rural area along the Sheksna River near the small town of Kirillov, Russia, 1909. (Photo by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky/Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)

Russia in Color: Photos of Life Before the Revolution

Photographer Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky's fascinating study of an Empire from 1909 to 1915.

The photographer road trip is still a rite of passage today. But more than a century ago, Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky hit the road — or more accurately, the rails — to create a visual study of the Russian Empire that remains startling in its scope, depth, and sense of immediacy. A pioneering chemist and photographer who created an early method for developing pictures in color, Prokundin-Grosky got assistance from Tsar Nicholas II himself to take a groundbreaking trip across Russia from 1909 to 1915 in a railcar with a specially designed dark room. His mission was to document the far reaches of the Empire. Now, his photographs offer an invaluable glimpse of everyday life teetering on the edge of the Great War and the Russian Revolution. Prokundin-Grosky would've turned 155 on August 30 and is being celebrated in parts of the world today with a special Google Doodle. Here, a closer look at the images he captured. (Above: Peasant girls offering berries to visitors near the town of Kirillov, 1909.)

A family iron-mining operation in the Bakaly hills outside Ekaterinburg, Russian Empire, 1910. (Photo by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky/Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images) Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images MADE OF IRON A family iron-mining operation near Ekaterinburg, 1910. A group of Jewish boys, in traditional dress, studying with their teacher in Samarkand, Uzbekistan (then part of the Russian Empire), 1910. (Photo by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky/Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images) Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images TEACHER AND PUPILS A group of Jewish boys in traditional dress with their teacher in what is now Uzbekistan, 1910.

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Russian pioneer of colour photography Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky (1863 - 1944, seated, right), an official and four railway workers riding on a railway handcar on the Murmansk Railway outside Petrozavodsk, Karelia, in the Russian Empire, 1915. Under the sponsorship of Tsar Nicholas II, Prokudin-Gorsky toured the Russian Empire by rail between 1905 and 1915, documenting its culture and landscape in colour. (Photo by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky/Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images) Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images HANDCAR Railway workers on the tracks in the Karelia region, 1915. Russian pioneer of colour photography Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky (1863 - 1944, right) with two men in Cossack dress on the Murmansk Railway, Russian Empire, 1915. Under the sponsorship of Tsar Nicholas II, Prokudin-Gorsky toured the Russian Empire by rail between 1905 and 1915, documenting its culture and landscape in a collection of colour photographs. (Photo by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky/Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images) Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images SIDE OF THE TRACKS Two men in Cossack dress and one in more modern clothes on the Murmansk Railway, 1915. A Dagestani man and woman in traditional dress, Caucasus Mountains, Russian Empire, circa 1910. (Photo by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky/Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images) Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images TRADITIONAL CLOTHES A Dagestani man and woman in the Caucasus Mountains, 1910. Sart men and boys in traditional dress, Samarkand, Uzbekistan (formerly part of the Russian Empire), circa 1910. (Photo by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky/Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images) Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images BOYS IN RED Two men and two boys from an ethnic group known as the Sarts, in what is now Uzekistan, 1910. A Bashkir switch operator by the Transsiberian Railway line near the town of Ust-Katavin Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia, 1910. (Photo by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky/Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images) Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images AT WORK A Bashkir switch operator near his post on the Transsiberian Railway near the town of Ust-Katav, 1910. Alim Khan (1880-1944), Emir of Bukhara, Uzbekistan (formerly part of the Russian Empire), 1911. (Photo by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky/Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images) Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images MAIN MAN A portrait of Alim Khan, the last Emir of Bukhara (what is now Uzbekistan) in 1911. He was later deposed by the Red Army during the Revolution. Ethnic Russian settlers in Grafovka in the Mugan Steppe region in present-day Azerbaijan, circa 1910. (Photo by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky/Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images) Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images FAMILY LIFE Russian settlers in what is now Azerbaijan, 1910. Five inmates look out from a zindan, a traditional Central Asian prison, Central Asia, Russian Empire, circa 1910. Their guard is wearing a Russian-style uniform, and is armed with a Russian rifle and bayonet. (Photo by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky/Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images) Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images PRISON Inmates look out from a jail in Central Asia as a uniformed, armed guard stands over them, 1910. A Dagestani Sunni Muslim man in traditional dress and headgear, Dagestan, Russian Empire, circa 1910. (Photo by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky/Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images) Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images DIGNIFIED POSE A Sunni Muslim man in traditional dress in Dagestan, in the North Caucasus region, 1910. Two prisoners in shackles, Russian Empire, circa 1910. (Photo by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky/Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images) Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images CHAIN GANG Two prisoners in shackles, 1910. A bureaucrat wearing a traditional full-length coat, Bukhara, Uzbekistan (formerly in the Russian Empire), circa 1910. (Photo by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky/Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images) Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images COAT OF MANY COLORS A bureaucrat in Bukhara, 1910. Greek women harvesting tea at a plantation near Chakva, Georgia (formerly part of the Russian Empire), circa 1910. (Photo by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky/Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images) Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images TEA TIME Greek women harvesting on a tea plantation in Georgia, 1910. A Bashkir woman in traditional dress, Ural Mountains, Russian Empire, 1910. (Photo by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky/Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images) Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images STEPS A Bashkir woman in the Ural Mountains, 1910. UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1754: Melon seller in a fruit stall at a market in Samarkand (Uzbekistan). By Sergey Mikhaylovich Prokudin-Gorsky 1863 - 1944, Russian photographer. He is known for his pioneering work in colour photography of early 20th-century Russia (Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images) UniversalImagesGroup/Getty Images FRUIT VENDOR A melon seller in a market in what is now Uzbekistan.



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