iconic black and white photos photoshopped in colour iconic black and white photos photoshopped in colour
jan 18, 2012

iconic black and white photos photoshopped in colour


sanna dullaway uses photoshop to bring colour to some of the most iconic historical black-and-white photographs, as in this portrait of anne frank

swedish artist sanna dullaway renders iconic black-and-white photographs in colour, utilizing primarily photoshop CS 5. dullaway, who offers a recolouring and restoration service for old photographs, undertook the works– alongside processing old family photos– as a personal project.

already controversial, raising questions of the reappropriation of culturally significant imagery, as well as the boundaries of what classifies something as art, the recoloured photographs are also technically striking, generally achieving a colour and climate that is not only realistic but also largely consistent with the tonalities achievable or popular at the time. each piece takes approximately two to three hours to finish.

editor’s note: designboom has removed many of the photographs included in the original post, some of which are referenced  in the comments below, at the request of the artist as a result of copyright claims by the rightsholders of the original photographs.

portrait of abraham lincoln

portrait of august strindberg

original photo: ‘a harvest of death’ at the battle of gettysburg, by timothy o’sullivan

photograph from liverpool’s canada dock, 1909, featuring first chieef engineer of mauretania john currie

via petapixel, via mashkulture

  • awesone!

    lorry says:
  • amazing work

    EA Berlin says:
  • rebirth.
    The V-J is just too amazing.
    Thanks

    tak says:
  • wow

    globalporco says:
  • Incredible!!

    Sebastian says:
  • Totally fucked them. These kids with too much time on their hands would do something useful.

    Tony Blair says:
  • blasphemy

    dbkii says:
  • this is so surreal.
    unexpectedly i think most of these images are just as striking in color, which is maybe testament to just being great photos. now when i see the V-J one i feel like i have always seen it in color.

    what an amazing series. it seems like it should be the opposite but there is something about being in color that brings you much more back to that moment.

    rina g. says:
  • A terrible idea. The images aren\’t toys, they have potent historical contexts and meanings. By earnestly adding color arbitrarily chosen, you pervert and diminish the image, and risk confusing the historical record for those who don\’t know the difference — which apparently includes Dullaway. Pure poshlust.

    Mort D'Urban says:
  • I hate this. what’s wrong with the fucking black and white?
    Find art some place else, and stop piggy-backing on real photographers.

    Lizzy says:
  • stunning

    david says:
  • Hahaa, good work, worse comments. You ppl who hate this, try doing it yourself. Exactly.

    fin says:
  • Please understand that these are digital copies of the original photos. These copies were then edited to show an interesting personal project. The original images are still stored safely somewhere and have not been harmed in any way. As a purist, you are free to track them down and peruse them. However, you should cease to use the Internets immediately, since viewing a digital copy of the photo is also blasphemy.

    AdamZ says:
  • I completely disagree with Lizzy. Sometimes art is about stretching techniques and the limits of what is possible. These are technically-speaking incredible. But also they bring up for me some really interesitng questions about the nature of photography, this question of B+W versus colour, the idea of the real, the importance of an image, of historical attachments.

    Good quality. That makes me think.
    That already puts this way above almost anything else I’ve seen in the “art” world recently.

    Lolita says:
  • history didn’t happen in black and white,
    who is to say that making color versions of historical photos
    doesn’t take away the fetish aspect of B&W photography,
    instead returning the images to their rightful place in the canon
    of the historical and the real?

    the thinker. says:
  • Great work! What about History colors photographs in old black and white, what will we see? History always repeats itself…

    virginie says:
  • coollll colllloooorrr

    titosup says:
  • Christ you guys that are hating on these pictures a complete and utter wankers. Take your fingers out of your arse and appreciate them for what they are

    Gavinator says:
  • p.s. Awesome stuff

    Gavinator says:
  • this is soo cool!

    siji says:
  • It\’s not a matter of history, it is a matter of perception: most of the time, color dilutes the information of an image.
    Many contemporary photographers have included this: they work in B&W.

    iBouc says:
  • Adding color to these images brings them back to our attention and encourages their reappraisal. They are not sacred they are just images…

    H says:
  • genious!

    Manuel says:
  • Abraham seems tired !

    antuand says:
  • The Abraham Lincoln photo is stunning. Really brings it back to life!

    Jay
    [url=http://www.sewingmachinediscount.co.uk/] Cooper Sewing [/url]

    Jay Cooper says:
  • I really love it, nice work. Why people complain so about… this is a proposition and a personal project, in fact a great one!

    mariamontiel says:
  • Great Work!

    @ibouc

    “Most of the time color, dilutes the information of and image” How so? Black and white is surely a diluted version on color as it contains less infomation, I can see what your getting at i.e certain infomation will become clearer without the distraction of color, but your statment sounds abit silly.

    keith says:
  • Whatever your feelings about the morals of the project (I have no problem with it, it’s not like the origanal prints have been destroyed) there’s no doubting the skill and patience that have gone into it. Fascinating.

    Play Learning Life says:
  • The color brings a new life to these photos. This is like the work of the Frenchman, Albert Kahn ,who created an archive of vanishing cultures in the beginning of the 20th century withe the use of Autochrome. “The Wonderful World of Albert Kahn”. Color Photographs of a lost age.

    andrea says:
  • Great!

    aekkasit says:

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.

comments policy
LOG IN
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.

design news