There is an amazing phenomenon happening in the world of graphic design that many might not know about.

You might be of a certain age, to remember when the art of colorizing old cartoons and movies came into being. Classic, black and white features were given a new life with their colorized versions, a practice that was sometimes unnatural, leading to a backlash by many in the movie industry.

Albert Einstein on Long Island, 1939 (See: Einstein on the Beach
Albert Einstein on Long Island, 1939 (See also: Einstein on the Beach)

Nowadays, fans of classic movies are probably more content to view them in their original incarnations, while color movies have been around for long enough that the novelty of colorizing film is pretty much gone.

Not so for a newer trend, the colorization of old, black and white photographs.

Washington D.C. auto accident, 1921
Washington D.C. auto accident, 1921

Colorizing old photographs takes an extreme amount of skill, particularly to do it well, and judging by some of the better ones that have been circulating through the internet, great pride is taken in order to update these photos as accurately and realistically as possible.


Shading, lighting and a near-endless range of skin tones are among the many nuances that a crafty graphic artists needs to contend with to visually update a dated photo in this manner. While the end result is often as accurate as one might find from a modern-day Hollywood period film, knowing that the photograph was actually taken decades before the advent of color film is still striking.

Audrey Hepburn
Audrey Hepburn

The result is often a remarkable transformation, a chance to view a variety of photographs from days of yore, from iconic images to everyday snapshots, in an way that the subjects, photographers and viewers throughout the years never could.

In (almost) living color.

For a great assortment of these and other colorized photographs, visit

See also: The Civil War in Color For The First Time

See also: A Vibrant Past: Colorizing the Archives of History



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