Established in the heyday of collotype printing over a century ago, the Benrido Atelier is one of only a handful of remaining collotype studios.
Established in Kyoto in 1887, Benrido brings over a century of experience to image-making. Specialising in the preservation of Cultural works through Publishing, Printing & Photography for Cultural and Heritage Imaging, Benrido began producing collotypes in 1905, inaugurating what was to become a distinctive legacy in printmaking. Along with local papermakers and bookbinders, the Benrido craftsmen have upheld a tradition of superior Kyoto artisanship for more than a century, creating and preserving thousands of Japanese national treasures and cultural artefacts. As one of the world’s few remaining producers of collotypes, Benrido offers rare access to this lost craft, providing opportunities for today’s photographers to collaborate with master artisan printers in making singularly beautiful museum-quality prints for exhibition and display.
Collotypes originated in France in the early decades of photography. In 1855 the Frenchman Alphonse- Louis Poitevin discovered the hardening effect of light on metallic salts suspended in gelatin. On the basis of this discovery, he developed a process of printing continuous-tone photographs using pigment ink. In the decades that followed, collotype technology was modified and improved as various innovators experimented with chemical formulas and developed hybrid processes and multi-colour variants. The advent of collotypes made possible the distribution of photographs in books, and the process quickly became the European standard for commercial photo reproduction.