The color photography establishes an important naturalistic stake for the XIX°s and makes up the main part of the amateur production of the second half of the XX°s.The color photography is part of a complex technology that the industry made accessible to the largest number.
François Arago formulates the regret that photography is not in color and envisages, thereby, a research program for its realization. Thus the first results are obtained in 1848 with Edmond Becquerel. The image is a direct positive of the solar spectrum recorded on a silver blade. The process rests on the sensibility of a single substance, a silver chloride with colored beams. The quest of a process for direct recording of colors concentrates the attention of numerous researchers in the XIX°s. Thus the color photography leaves the scientific restricted frame and takes an industrial dimension, it needed to knock down the initial objective of a direct method for an indirect procedure.
At the May 7th, 1869 Société française de photographie session, Louis Ducos Du Hauron and Charles Cros independently present a new color photography process. Although they do not know each other, they propose similar indirect methods. By means of filters, the inventors isolate each of three colors (red, yellow, blue), record them, then obtain as many colored editions according to the pigmentary method. The last stage of the process consists in stacking three editions to obtain an image which reproduces natural colors. Thus the indirect procedure rests on two stages: the analysis then the synthesis of colors. But this new process is not going to meet expected success.
The first industrial photo color process results at the same time from the direct and indirect method. In May, 1904, the Lumières brothers present at the Science Academy « a new method of obtaining color photography » that they baptize « autochrome »
This technique rests on the use of a trichrome screen coupled with a black and white plate, made sensitive to silver gelatin-bromide.
Until the middle of the 1930s, autochrome is the main color process used in France. Other processes are commercialised during the first third party of the XX°s, but autochrome is most usually used, the Lumières brothers process is the one which allows the development of color photography practice. From 1931s, industrialists propose more supple, more convenient supports, and in 1935, new processes more sensitive and better adapted to the small format of devices supplant the autochrome.
Between the wars, incited by the cinematographic industry, producers of color photographic processes turn to 35 millimeters soft celluloid support format. Leica's type devices are designed to use this new standard and in 1939, Agfa produces a negative color film, the process known as " chromogène " made up of three united layers united and colored in yellow, magenta and cyan, whose synthesis is realised thanks to a complex procedure during its development. The use of the negative film supposes the production of editions on paper which restore natural colors of the recorded view.
From the beginning of the XX°s, the practice of the color photography is considered in art circles as "vulgar", until the advent of a generation of sponsored and exposed American documentary photographers. In the 1970s, in France, color editions on paper RC (resin coated) become standard in the practice of amateur photography. Only digital photography and ink jet printers came to disturb the hegemony of the color chromogène color edition at the beginning of the XXI°s.