The art of hand-coloring photographs

The art of hand-coloring black and white prints has been around almost as long as photography itself. Its humble beginnings date back to the early days of daguerreotypes when portrait artists worked alongside portrait photographers applying their colorful oils to monochrome prints. The art of hand-coloring photographs was born!

My hand-colored prints are on silver gelatin matte photo paper or fine art watercolor paper both of which have a surface with enough texture or ‘tooth’ to grab and hold color. I use Marshall oil paints and pencils, which are made specifically for hand-coloring photographs, and the colors are semi-transparent to allow the original image to show through. These prints are highly archival with proper storage conditions, and can last even longer than traditional color photographs. These photo oils will not interfere with the archival stability of the photographs.


I enjoy the hands-on process of adding my own colors to the black and white prints. It allows creative freedom and interpretation and makes each image unique. The colors chosen for each print create a particular mood. The entire print can be covered with color, or certain areas can be selectively colored for effect.


Digital photography is now being used to re-create similar effects, but it all started with hand-painting onto the original black and white photograph. It is my passion to keep this historical process alive.