This photograph is a hand-colored albumen print. In this paper-based technique, the image was printed with negative plate. This was the first true commercial printing process and the dominant form of photography to the turn of the 20th century. Unfortunately, these images faded easily and lost detail and the paper was so thin that many times the images had to be mounted.
After the Meiji Restoration, photographs were challenging woodblock prints in popularity. In hand-colored photographs, the artist would apply the color using water-soluble pigments that were more transparent than the oil paints used in the West. The paint was mixed with a small amount of glue. The process of coloring a photograph was so time consuming an expert could only complete two or three prints in a twelve-hour day. Soon, however, studios began to streamline the coloring process, where each colorist would specialize in a specific area of color, passing the photograph to another colorist after completing his section. By the 1890s, a successful studio regularly employed anywhere from 20 to 100 colorists.