How photography became a hobby of the Romanovs
Tsar Nicholas II. / Getty Images
The royal family shared an interest in photography, which was popular in the early 20th century across Europe and the U.S. The progress in photo equipment made it affordable to the wider public, and the Russian Emperor himself grew fond of this activity.
Children of Tsar Nicholas II. / Getty Images
The Romanov family owned the best camera of that time – a U.S.-made Kodak – and often took pictures of their closest circle and posed for group photos.
This scary photo shows a fun-loving Anastasia, the youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II. She was just making faces with artificial teeth in front of the camera. / Getty Images
Empress Alexandra was also very fond of photography. She ordered photo equipment from Great Britain and paid for professional photography services, which made up a significant part of the royal family’s expenditures.
Tsar Nicholas II children: (left to right) Maria (born 1899), Olga (born 1895), Alexei (born 1904), unknown woman and Tatiana (born 1897). / Getty Images
As photography became the favorite hobby of the whole Romanov family, a photo workshop was created in Tsarskoye Selo, an Imperial Residence outside the capital St. Petersburg.
Olga in her bedroom. / Getty Images
Up to 2,000 photos were created every year in the workshop.
Olga, Tatiana, Alexei, Tsar Nicholas II and unknown man in 1915 in Ropsha, the royal family’s favorite hunting and fishing retreat 20 kilometers south of Peterhof. / Getty Images
Nicholas II also owned a special camera that Kodak made for him exclusively. It allowed him to take panoramic views.
The daughters of Tsar Nicholas II: Maria, Olga and Tatiana. / Getty Images
The photos taken by members of the royal family and their friends later transformed into a kind of “photo diary,” capturing their daily lives, looks and characters.
Unidentified woman and Olga. / Getty Images
According to Nicholas II’s published diaries, the family spent many evenings together working on the photo albums.
Tsar Nicholas II and his son and heir Alexei. / Getty Images
Usually, the Tsar and his daughters filed the photos themselves, putting the correct dates and places where the pictures were taken.
The family of Tsar Nicholas II. / Getty Images
Maria and Anastasia decorated the photo albums with flowers and water-colored some of the pictures.
Tatiana and unknown man. / Getty Images
The Tsar’s beloved pastime, which connected him with his people, gives a valuable insight into his character.
Anastasia and Maria visit wounded soldiers in a hospital during the First World War. / Getty Images
The royal photo albums contain pictures of the Tsar’s children, wife and only the closest people.
The royal family. / Getty Images
They rarely show official gatherings and ceremonies.
Tsar Nicholas II with daughters: Maria, Anastasia, Olga and Tatiana. / Getty Images
The Tsar’s camera captured only pleasant moments of the life of his ordinary and harmonious family.