How would you like to see a photo of the 1937 Hindenburg disaster in color? Rather than experiencing the destruction in black and white, how much more powerful would that image be if we could see the intensity of the flames against the night sky ? Well, thanks to the work of an increasingly popular online trend, now you can. And it’s not limited to the Hindenburg. Photographic colorizing is illuminating portraits of long-past world leaders, scenes from 1930’s US Great Depression, and the ever heart-breaking Thich Quang Duc’s self-immolation.
A number of photographers have taken to this challenge, and one company, Dynamichrome, explains the appeal of this change. They write:
Black and white photography can be an artistic choice, but with images taken before the advent of mainstream colour photography, it was usually the only option. As a result, historical photographs are a far less vivid depiction of the past. Skilfully restored and authentically colourised photos allow the viewer to connect with a past era and see details they never noticed before, bringing history to life and drawing attention to images previously unseen in full colour.
The colorizing of popular historical photographs isn’t something that is just for the professionals. There is a whole subreddit, History in Color, that features this practice. Obviously, some attempts are better than others. Regardless, when done well, it’s a powerful way to revisit history.
English photographer Carl Warner creates realistic landscapes that are made out of food. As an experienced landscape photographer, Warner puts his talents to work in order to reinvent the conventional type. The ‘Foodscapes’ are created in Carl’s London studio where he crafts out each and every little detail (all components completely made out of food) through intricate and laborious steps. The scenes are photographed in layers from foreground to background. The food products used tend to wither quite quickly under the beaming lights, this might take each landscape even more time to get finished.
He first starts off with a set of drawings; he lines up the model-drawings that he would like to work with, and from those he picks the one that will be worked on.
Warner has a team of food stylists and other artists that help him with the process.
“ Although I’m very hands on with my work, I do use model makers and food stylists to help me create the sets. I tend to start with a drawing which I sketch out in order to get the composition worked out, this acts as a blue print for the team to work to.”
Daddy Bunny (7 ½) Height 14” -Belongs to: Zoe Bracken
Flopsie (6) Height 14″ Belongs to: Lua Spencer
Photographer Mark Nixon creates portraits of worn-out vintage teddy bears in the series Much Loved Bears. These nostalgic portraits immortalize the innocence of youth; better yet, the goodness and appreciation of a child, as they hold on to the old with no remorse. The photographs are paired with text provided by the owner and they are part of a book called Much Loved.
The funny looking portraits project a sense of irony, as seeing the teddy bear, a signifier of early age, and their ‘wear’ and ‘tear’, a signifier of old age, together generate an interesting tension between the two. The battered teddy bears are a symbol of love, respect and friendship- moreover an undenying preservation of a friend that was important, and therefore hard to replace.
“When you see these teddy bears and bunnies with missing noses and undone stuffing, you can’t help but think back to childhood and its earliest companions who asked for nothing and gave a lot back.”
It feels as if these photographs also expound on a critical string of thoughts regarding the journey of becoming older, and what it means to be an owner of something today. The fact that we so easily get rid of ‘damaged’ material things with the eagerness of wanting more and ‘better’ is something that contrasts Nixon’s attention to the teddy bear’s ‘battlescars’; for a kid,however, the damaged but useful and loved, is not something to easily get rid of. (Via My Modern Met)
Since living in Baltimore, I’ve had the chance to attend several burlesque shows and enjoyed them all. I’ve seen performers of all ages, including a few older women, which is often my favorite part of the show; I love seeing these women confident about their bodies, especially in a society that values youth. A photography series by Stephanie Diani captures this same idea. She photographed The Legends of Burlesque, an older group of women burlesque dancers. Diani found these women when she visited the Miss Exotic World pageant many years ago. They made an impression on the photographer, and years later she sought these woman for her project.
All the women photographed are septuagenarians, and performed in burlesque shows well after turning 50, 60, or 70. Even at this age, they still exude a mature sexuality and eroticism. In each portrait, Diani had the women pose for pictures in their favorite Burlesque ensembles or meaningful garment. The resulting images portray glitzy, over-the-top outfits, complete with feathers, fur, beading, and jewels. This is an amusing juxtaposition with their homes, which, not surprisingly, are reminiscent of your grandmother’s home. Each woman looks self-assured and strong, and it isn’t an act. Diani remarks about the women on the Slate photo blog, Behold:
I loved spending time with the women: they were wry and smart and playful. In June 2009, I photographed Hall of Fame legend Big Fannie Annie, by her own account 450 pounds of sizzling sex, in a hotel room in Vegas where she and Satan’s Angel were getting ready to perform during over Hall of Fame weekend. Angel asked Fannie: ‘Do you have any of that cum-in-a-can I can use?’ — a reference to the industrial strength hairspray that is an essential tool of their trade. Another, Toni Elling, took her name from Duke Ellington, whom she used to know. (via Huffington Post)
Have you ever thought about how people will remember you when you are gone? Do you wish to be remembered in a particular way? Perhaps with a specific outfit, or at a specific age? Why would you have someone else choose the picture? You have a choice while you are alive.
Belgian photographer Frieke Janssens is offering her services in order to create the ultimate headshot, the one that you would like on your grave and everyone’s minds once you’ve past away.
The eerie yet beautiful and polished headshots are Janssens’ way to change people’s mindsets when it comes to ideas of death and memory. The series of ‘Your Last Shot’ reflects a combination of the sitter’s wishes and the photographer’s style. With make up assistance, styling and post-production, Jenssen creates master portraits that defy the ugliness that death brings about. In a sense, having a say on what you’ll look like to those alive when you are dead is a way to take control. This will perhaps leave us a bit more at ease about the whole death process.
The ‘last portrait’ will be finished in porcelain so that it can actually be used when the time comes.
“My personal preference goes to static portraits as they were taken at the occasion of weddings at the beginning of the 20th century. My aim is to make an iconic portrait that is beautiful, serene and fearless, preferably with a gentle smile, indicating that the model is clearly aware of the fact that this portrait will be used for a very long time to come.”
You can check the project’s website to find out more on how you can participate- it is a limited time thing,so if you want in, go check it out now!
African-Mexican-American photographer Hannah Price reverses the power of the male gaze through capturing spontaneous photographs of men that catcall her. Through them, Price transforms these men’s taunts into an exercise of reflection and observation.
“This project is a work in progress documenting a part of my life as an African-Mexican-American, transitioning from suburban Colorado to consistently being harassed on the streets of Philadelphia. These images are a response to my subjects looking at me, and myself as an artist looking back.”
The bold project is neither a judgment on men nor a comment on race, but it is certainly a way for her to take control of a situation that she would not be able to control otherwise. Through her camera, she captures the actions of her ‘suitors’ in a precise and spontaneous way, and although she is taking control, she does not intend for her actions to cause these men to reconsider their actions. In a sense, she wants them to be themselves; this is the only way for her to further understand their behavior and find the humanity that lies within their actions…if there is any. (via feature shoot)
As we wave goodbye to Halloween, let’s take a minute to mediate on the innately striking work of Diane Arbus and her unbiased approach to documenting not just the spookier side of humanity, but even more so, the masks or costumes we present to the world as a species, as human beings, as ourselves . . . year-round.
Now, when I use the word “unbiased” here I am not suggesting Arbus’s eye is roaming and invisible. Quite the contrary. Her eye is always distinctly there: focused, from one frame to the next. This “unbiased” quality has more to do with her indiscriminate examination of each subject in the same oddly intimate and unflinching way– regardless of class, age, gender, sexual preference, or race. In other words, a child with a toy hand grenade in the park looks equally as strange as the a woman lounging next to a toy poodle or a handful of residents dressed up on Halloween at a home for the mentally retarded. No one person, group, or act is more privileged. No one is all the more beautiful. We are all playing dress-up as far as identity and image is concerned.
By seeking out each individual’s innate desire to present him or herself and critically or creatively twisting that into her own perception of costume in each person’s presentation, Arbus became not just a photographer, but an alchemist, shifting our ideas of self, reality, and personal intention. Whether you are a part of celebrity culture or a more marginalized society spread out along the fringe, Arbus’s certain way of looking did not glorify one way of living over the other.
The exact color of that Ginger Ale can is important to artist Sara Cwynar. Her work revolves around the careful curation of both fantastic and banal objects. She arranges and later photographs these assemblages, which range from color studies to chaotic interpretations of old works of art.
You might be familiar with 16th and 17th century Dutch Flower paintings. If not, then they are exactly as they sound; Still life paintings of flower arrangements. They are colorful and realistically rendered pictures. Their realism is almost boring, until you find out that these paintings were meant to brighten up the interior of homes during the winter months when real flowers were dead. In her Flat Death series, Cwynar took old reproduced pictures of these flowers and overtop placed it with the likes of cheap plastic toys, fake leaves, rolls of tape, and dish gloves. A sophisticated painting is recreated out of junk, creating a cognitive dissonance.
Color Studies is another still life series. Instead of parodying of an already existing work, Cwynar gathers objects of a similar color. They include old marching band uniforms, encyclopedias, lemons, old slide film, cigarettes, and so much more. Photographs feel really dated, like a teenager’s room in the 1970’s. This is Cwynar’s intention. In an interview with Lavalette, she states:
I thought a lot about the aesthetic patterns you see in these pictures – a particular lighting, a slickness, a high level of detail. I’m also trying to recycle and subvert conventions of product and commercial photography by using elements that aren’t normally associated with these genres – objects that are now discarded or forgotten, intentional scuffing, not glossy at all.
It’s easy to be intrigued by Cwynar’s work. She utilizes conventional objects and through assemblage, allows us to experience them in a new way.