Tag Archives: Ap Photographer

A Vibrant Past: Colorizing the Archives of History

Technology has given us an incredibly wide-ranging view of modern presidents; chief White House photographer Pete Souza’s images of Barack Obama show him in countless locations and situations, from meetings in the Oval Office to candid shots of the president eating ice cream with his daughters on vacation.

The photo archive of Abraham Lincoln, the subject of this week’s cover story, is a much smaller set due to the technological limitations of the time; most of the existing photographs of the 16th president are posed portraits, the majority of which only show Lincoln from the chest up—and all are black-and-white.

But TIME commissioned Sanna Dullaway to create a more vibrant document of Lincoln through a series of colorized photographs produced in Photoshop. After removing spots, dust and scratches from archival Lincoln photographs, Dullaway digitally colorizes the files to produce realistic and modern versions of the portraits, which look like they could have been made today.

The 22-year-old Swedish artist began colorizing images in January 2011, when she was listening to the debut album by rock band Rage Against the Machine. The self-titled album’s cover art is a black-and-white picture of a self-immolating monk taken by AP photographer Malcolm Browne. “I thought the normally fiery flames looked so dull in black and white, so I…looked for a way to make them come alive,” she says. Dullaway colorized the flames, and eventually, the entire picture. She then posted the image on Reddit, and it instantly went viral.

Since that first experiment, Dullaway has continued to colorize a wide range of historical figures, including Albert Einstein, Che Guevara and Teddy Roosevelt, each of which has generated viral buzz online. She’s also used the approach on a number of iconic photographs, such as Eddie Adams’ harrowing image of a Vietnam police officer the moment before he’s about to execute a Vietcong prisoner. In each of these renderings, Dullaway’s use of color is subtle and sophisticated—yielding images that maintain the photographic integrity of their originals, while presenting a look at how these photographs may have come out had color photography existed at the time. That nuanced ability to handle color runs in the family; Dullaway’s father is painter.

The images take anywhere from 40 minutes to three hours to produce, and for the young artist, it’s a way of bringing a contemporary perspective to older works. “History has always been black and white to me, from the World War I soldiers to the 1800s, when ladies wore grand but colorless dresses,” Dullaway says. “By colorizing, I watch the photos come alive, and suddenly the people feel more real and history becomes more tangible.”

Lincoln is at the heart of her next project, a book of Civil War images rendered in color. “I felt like it was a good place to start because the war is well documented in the Library of Congress and started roughly around the same time the camera was first used commercially,” Dullaway says. “And a war offers to chance to cover many subjects at once, and present the events of that time as our eyes would see it today—in color.”

Sanna Dullaway is a photo editor based in Sweden. See more of her work here.

apertureWEEK: Online Photography Reading Shortlist

Aperture aggregates the best posts from this past week in the photography blogosphere.

  • Forty years after AP photographer Nick Ut took the iconic ‘napalm girl‘ photograph in Vietnam, photographer David Burnett writing for the Washington Post reflects on an exposure that could have been his. He was standing mere feet away from the scene, surrounded by journalists, re-loading film into his Leica when he missed what became a most emblematic moment. The entry seems like it might have been a good fit for Will Steacy’s collection Photographs Not Taken, which features similar essays from photographers on moments that never became their pictures.
  • “Radical change in the photography industry during the past five years has ignited an explosion of photo collectives,” writes James Estrin for the New York Times’ LENS Blog. He explores this recent trend after witnessing an impressive presentation by the newly formed Grain collective at the Look3 Festival in  Charlottesville, VA last month. The post offers a good bit of context for this May, 2012 Wired piece: “7 Budding Photo Collectives You Need To Know.”
  • New Yorker’s PhotoBooth profiles Underage, an exhibition of work from six emerging photographers in their late teens and early twenties on view at Photoville, an exciting, week-and-a-half-long photography happening which kicks off in Brooklyn this Friday, June 22,  and features 60,000 square feet of exhibitions, hands-on workshops, nighttime projections, a “photo dog run,” and a “camera garden.” Find daily programming here.
  • Time‘s LightBox goes “Behind the Cover: Capturing the American Dream,” exploring the process of the photo shoot for the birds-eye-view cover image by Jeff Minton that illustrates Jon Meacham’s article, “The History of the American Dream,” for this week’s magazine. They also profile Mike Sinclair, whose photographs accompany the same article inside the magazine. His current exhibition, Public Assembly, is on view at Jen Bekman Projects in New York City until June 23, 2012.
  • A few things on street photography this week. Blogger and photographer Blake Andrews, who is interviewed by LPV Magazine here, reviews Cedar Pasori’s recently published “50 Greatest Street Photographers Right Now,” with an extensive selection of images. PetaPixel posts the highly informative video by Portland-based photographer Jimmy Hickey, “How to Photograph Complete Strangers” and the free 31-day “program” and e-book by street photographer Eric Kim, “Overcoming Your Fear of Street Photography in 31 Days.” This fall, we’re very excited to be publishing a monograph by Doug Rickard, “A New American Picture,” which offers a radical rethinking of street photography–photographs re-taken in Google’s Street View.
  • Fototazo does another Book Discussion Group Recap on Gerry Badger’s collection of essays, The Pleasure of Good Photographs, this time focusing on “Without Author or Art: The Quiet Photograph,” exploring the restrained work of Stephen Shore, among others.
  • The Fotojatka festival that traveled to cinemas around the Czech Republic last week screening audiovisual photography slideshows is now offering them free on their website featuring work by Kristoffer Axén, Nikos Economopoulos, Erwin Olaf, and Reiner Riedler.