For my most recent colourising piece I chose this photo by the Danish American photographer and social reformer Jacob Riis. Riis moved to the USA in 1870 and after a very hard start where he was destitut he started work as a carpenter before finally working for a newspaper. At the time photography was very much in its infancy with both lenses and emulsions being very slow and therefore not suitable to photograph in the dark slums. In 1887 however Riis discovered that flash photography had been invented via the use of flash powder.
Riis instantly realised the potential for flash photography and he with friends and colleagues Dr. John Nagle, Henry Piffard and Richard Hoe Lawrence set about photographing the slums and their inhabitants with the first photo being published in 1888.
This photo is from around that time and shows one of four pedlars who lived in the cellar of 11 Ludlow Street, rear, in New York.
You can view the original and my coloured version below.
I'm currently working on a couple of other colourised photos which are proving to be be quite complex. To take a break from them I decided to colour this famous photo of a Navajo boy taken in 1906. The original black and white image is creased and a little faded but the addition of colour really adds impact to this striking young man. Whereas the original photo does look to be over 100 years old the colour version does make it feel like it was taken just the other day and makes the loss of whole Native American nations, culture and land all the more striking.
The photos can be viewed below