Vistar Insights

What a Difference Color Can Make!

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

The website,, is displaying a collection of old black and white photographs that have been transformed by adding color. The photos come from a community of Reddit (a social news and entertainment website) users who have a passion for colorizing photos. Both amateur and professional colorizers submitted photos. As you can see, the colorizers involved are highly skilled digital artists and were able to identify the “real” colors through historical reference and their natural eye for color.

These images change the way we look at history. Often, when we look at black and white photos from the past, a sense of antiquity overcomes the subject matter and we are disconnected with what is going on in the picture. It’s almost as if we forget that vibrant color still existed way back when!

It’s even more interesting to think about interpreting color retroactively. A colorizer must first research the time period and learn about building structures, transportation, fashion, etc. to ensure accurate representation of all objects in the picture. However, one component is still up for debate: perception of color. How does colorizing a photo affect our perception of its age, identity, or scene?

Do you feel black and white detracts from or enhances the subject matter in a photo? What did you see when you saw colors added to black and white photos? The art of photography - past and present - inspires this imaginative discourse. Sit back. Relax. You are there, in history, too.