The photochrom prints were very popular around the 1890s. Although color photography has been invented, it had not yet been commercialized at that time. The Photochrom process won a gold medal at the Paris Universal Exposition in 1889. This technique was exported to the United States via the Detroit Publishing Company in 1897 as well. The company produced up to seven million photochrom prints in some years and offered ten to thirty thousand different views. At the beginning of the 20th century, photochrom prints were sold a lot in tourist sites, particularly in the Middle East, which fascinated Europeans. The subjects were mostly grand monuments, landscapes, notable events, and exotic everyday life.
In the 19th century, following the opening of the Ottoman Empire to the Occident, Palestine aroused considerable enthusiasm among Europeans. Because, for them, the territory was a recovered paradise. The recognition of Palestine began from Bonaparte’s campaign of Egypt (1798-1801). The scientists accompanied his campaign to complete the first cartography of the province. Furthermore, the stories on the recovered paradise were established by many writers, especially, François-René de Châteaubriand (1768-1848). Many European tourists and "travel" photographers rushed naturally to Palestine. These photographers were initially empowered by scientific institutions or organizations. Their goal was not to show the reality as Palestine presented itself, but to establish the images which were very present in the imagination of the Occident on this place. They performed their work with so many passions to witness a Palestinian reality in danger of disappearing against a massive Western influence in spite of the harsh and dangerous conditions in Palestine.
Armenian photographers took a picture of all the landscapes of the Middle East from Constantinople to Cairo. They transmitted a chronicle of Middle Eastern society of the 19th century through their negatives. At the start, this practice became widespread in monasteries, for example, the monks Garabedian and Krikorian at St. James Monastery in Jerusalem, the Guiragossian or Sarafian of Beirut and Halladjian of Haifa. The most famous Armenian photographers in the 19th century were the three brothers Abdullah, Hovsep (1830-1908), Viçen (1820-1902) and Kevork (1839-1918). They managed a studio which they bought from a German chemist in 1858 under the name of Abdullah Brothers.
Other photography studios existed in Jerusalem in the Armenian town. One of the most important was the studio Elia Photo Service (Kahvedjian Family) which exists since 1924. The studio handles the photos taken by Elia Kahvedjian (1910-1999) but also those of other famous photographers. Some photographs date from 1860. All photographs of the studio serve as historical testimony about Jerusalem or its surroundings.
In Europe, thousands of photographs from Palestine amplified the admiration for the Orient by mean of a photo album or some magazines such as L’Illustration (1843-1944) or Le Tour du Monde (1860-1914). The higher the standard of quality from a new tourist clientele was, the more we wanted to have color photographs. In the 1880s, the Photochrom was finally born to satisfy these demands.