Teaching and doing digital history.

Colored Photographs: Not Just For Photoshop

I dug out an old box of family photos that I figured would hold a treasure of options for this project. I was right! (I have a ton of photos to deal with for my project, but none that need to be restored or colored, and certainly no engravings.. so I’ll have a bit of a mix for next week.)

And I came across a hand (machine?) colored image of my maternal grandmother when she was a toddler. But it struck me that this was a b&w photo that had been painted. It was her favorite photo of her as a child. I remember the b&w from my great grandmother’s house, but I never noticed before that this was colored after it was taken. And here I thought colorizing photos was just something that was done with Photoshop. I’m now very curious how they did it. On the original, you can even see the pink of her coat in the white margins of the photo.

I’m still working on my image assignment. I have one photo of my father’s parents that was taken when they were dating sometime in the 30s, that is badly faded. I want to see if I can get some of the image back, so I’ll restore that one. I have another of my mom’s mother that clearly had been folded or smooshed and now needs to have the folds removed. For my engraving, I found one from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated depicting a “doll charity,” which I plan to matte and colorize. (I also want to find out what they mean by a “doll charity” as I have never heard of this before..if I have time for a bit of research.. any body know?) So it should keep me quite busy this week.

Happy Spring “Break” all!


  1. I read your blog after struggling all night with a few of the images I need for my final project. Why was I struggling? Well…this is hard work. But also, I found myself wishing I was working on family photos, like I was last weekend when I was “practicing.” So I am following your lead, my friend! I think I am going to use the family photos for my image assignment and work on the project photos when I’ve narrowed down what I need a bit more.

    The hand-colored image of your grandmother is interesting. Dr. Petrik mentioned older practices of hand coloring, but I have truly yet to see any examples. As for my family, we have a lot of damaged images (I fear my grandparents did not take great care of some of the earlier images of my dad), so THAT is what will keep me busy!


  1. […] work of love and I suppose this puts me behind in planning my final project. But I was inspired by Erin, and was having way too much fun with the family photos. As for the site’s design, I was […]

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