Bromide (photography)

Bromide, in photography, refers to a type of photographic printing paper coated in an emulsion of silver bromide, or a photograph made thereof. Images are imprinted on the bromide paper via the gelatin-silver process.

It was invented in the 19th Century by British inventor Joseph Swann.

In Japan, "bromide" (ブロマイド), or "promide" (プロマイド) refers to a category of commercial photo portraits of celebrities—including geisha, singers, actors and actresses of both stage and film, and sports stars—regardless of whether bromide paper was used for the photo. While bromide photos have been a part of the Japanese popular consciousness for decades, the term seems to be falling out of use.

History of the Japanese bromide

In 1921 the Marubell Company (マルベル堂) started marketing their celebrity photographs under the name "Promide". Marubell sold the photo paper itself as "bromide", and its finished photo products as "Promide". The first Promide photo was a portrait of the film actress Sumiko Kurishima. However, in such reference guides as the Kōjien Dictionary and NHK's Broadcasting Glossary, a photographic portrait of an actor or celebrity is termed as a bromide. Because of this, the terms are used interchangeably.

From the World War II post-war period until the latter years of the Showa period (ended 1989), bromide sales were used as a barometer to the popularity of idols. Sales records were released on a monthly basis for the following categories: "Male Singers", "Female Singers", "Actors", and "Actresses".

Bromide photos in media

As a long-time household name, bromide photos are sometimes referred to in Japanese media such as manga, TV shows and video games.

  • An item named "Naga-ette Bromide" appears in the Super Nintendo game Chrono Trigger. A certain non-player character is dying to get his hands on it.
  • Bromides are a popular feature of some titles in the Lunar series of video games. The player can find bromides, which take the form of large images that are reminicient of pin-up photos, usually focusing on female characters.


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