Artist Colorizes Old Photos, And They Might Change The Way You Perceive History (70 New Pics)

Looking at old black-and-white photos, have you ever wondered what people and things were really like back then? Well, of course, nowadays we have a lot of easily accessible sources providing us with all the information we need. However, it is probably impossible to fully understand a period in which we didn’t exist yet.

To give you a better idea of the reality back in the day, we want to show you some works of Sebastien de Oliveira. He is an illustrator and a photographer who can resurrect the past in new colors. Literally. With the help of Photoshop, the artist colorizes old photos, giving them more life.

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For more of Sebastien’s colorized pictures, check out our previous post here.

More info: Instagram

#1 Hal And Betty Takier, Jitterbug Dancing 1938

Image credits: sebcolorisation

Bored Panda got in touch with Sebastien again to get to know more about him and his creative process. The artist shared that he is nearly at a thousand images colorized by now! That’s an impressive number, so we got curious about whether his colorizing technique has changed over time. The artist replied that after the first three years where he was experimenting, he needed to crystallize the process in order to be liberated from the “how to do it” and to concentrate on the choices of colors or the general atmospheres he wanted to show.

“My technique is polished now so basically I don’t need to think about it. It doesn’t mean I don’t make efforts to improve it but the more technical parts are completely automatic for me now, so I really only think about the artistic choices and the ways to go further on the time machine effect.”

#2 James Dean Signs Autographs In His Car In Marfa, Texas, Photographed By Richard C. Miller, In July 1955

Image credits: sebcolorisation

#3 Central Park Lake On A Sunday, New York, Photographed By Marjory Collins In September 1942

Image credits: sebcolorisation

Sebastien colorizes images that depict people, actions, or feelings and when they tell a little story: “I see the possibilities in the original image, also with basic elements like trees, sea, or sand, to already imagine what color it will be and try to figure out a way to equilibrate the future colorization. I always go to see the Library of Congress and the FSA collection, of course, but I can be inspired by other Instagram accounts that give me ideas, like @classy_badasssery for instance, that have lots of cool images. Otherwise, it is just during random surfing on the internet. It is rare that people give me an image to colorize but it has happened, and it’s always a joy to see people seeing their ancestors in color for the first time!”

#4 Parisians On A Bus, Photographed In 1951

Image credits: sebcolorisation

#5 Amelia Earhart, Photographed In 1932

Image credits: sebcolorisation

Sebastien revealed that until now, colorizing was only a hobby that he was taking “way too seriously”. “My real job is a retoucher for the fashion industry in Paris. I can take some commissions if the subjects and the images are interesting. I just began a collaboration with the magazine France-Amérique in New York for illustrating an article. Recently colorization took a bigger place in my occupations.”

#6 Actress Cathy O’donnell, 1945. Photographed By Martha Holmes For Life And Time Pictures

Image credits: sebcolorisation

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#7 Couple Kissing In The Front Seat Of A Convertible Car At A Drive-In Movie. Photographed In 1945

Image credits: sebcolorisation

Sebastien makes everything on Photoshop. Here’s how he describes his process: “the process is quite simple and complex at the same time, first restoring the original monochrome image, cleaning the dust and scratches and preparing it to receive the color layer. Second, creating paths to be able to select all the different elements in the image means spending time on clipping. After that, the moment arrives to choose the colors to put on top of the black and white image. The fourth step will be my special treatment, I take a scale of five grey and I color it in a way to give every tone of color a different orientation. For making it simple, the same color will be more blue in the dark and more yellow in the light, it gives a natural tone to the image. Other settings are required for giving the color a more saturated and solid aspect. I finish with a color grain in the overall surface of the image to give another argentic aspect.”

#8 A Woman Driving A Sports Car Around Hollywood With Thor The Great Dane Riding Shotgun, 1961. Photographed By Ralph Crane

Image credits: sebcolorisation

#9 Diane Keaton And Al Pacino On The Set Of The Godfather By Francis Ford Coppola In 1972

Image credits: sebcolorisation

“With all the different aspects of the process, it can take quite some time to colorize a picture but it really depends on the subject. If it is only a portrait with no complicated background it can be only an hour and if it is a street with cars and people it can be several hours. My job as a retoucher gave me the dexterity of working quite fast, it is what happened when you work on the same program for 8 hours a day for the last 18 years.”

#10 Marilyn Monroe In The Henry Hathaway’s Film “Niagara”, 1953

Image credits: sebcolorisation

#11 Manis The Orangutan And Clint Eastwood, Behind The Scenes Of The Film “Every Which Way But Loose ” By James Fargo (1978)

Image credits: sebcolorisation

The artist also shared that his book “Back to America!” has just been released in France! “I worked on it from the beginning of the year and it compiles 180 colorized images from the ’40s. It is such a great accomplishment for me that now I have difficulties imagining what will happen after that, another book maybe, other collaborations for articles, it seems to be only the beginning of the adventure.”

If you’re interested, you can order the book here.

#12 Man Changing A Tire, New York, Photographed In 1946 By Stanley Kubrick

Image credits: sebcolorisation

#13 Brigitte Bardot In A Boat, 1959

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#14 Frida Kahlo On A Small Boat At Xochimilco, Mexico, Photographed In 1936

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#15 Drought Refugees, California, Photographed By Dorothea Lange In February 1936

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#16 Lauren Bacall, Photographed In 1942

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#17 Robert De Niro Photographed On The Set Of The Film “Taxi Driver” By Martin Scorcese, 1976

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#18 Soldier And His Girlfriend Waiting For A Train At Chicago Union Station, Photographed By Jack Delano In February 1943

Image credits: sebcolorisation

#19 Soldiers And A Girl At The Fun Fair, Paris, 1960, Photographed By Paul Almasy

Image credits: sebcolorisation

#20 Photographed By Pierre Jamet In 1936

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#21 A Norwegian Sailor And An Oswego Girl On A Hayride During Unites Nations Week, Oswego, New York. Photographed By Marjory Collins In June 1943

Image credits: sebcolorisation

#22 Couple Kissing At The Cinema, Photographed By Weegee In 1943

Image credits: sebcolorisation

#23 Little Fisherman, Gloucester, Massachusetts, Photographed By Howard Liberman In September 1942

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#24 Photographer Harry Adams Stands With A Young Woman In Front Of His Barbershop. Los Angeles, 1956

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#25 Marlon Brando Photographed By Ed Clark In 1949

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#26 Bathing Beauties From Revere Beach, USA, 1937

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#27 February 1940. Basketball Players, Eufaula, Oklahoma. Photo By Russell Lee

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#28 Fort Worth, Texas. Meacham Field. Students And Instructor. Control Tower In The Background. Photographed By Arthur Rothstein In January 1942

Image credits: sebcolorisation

#29 8th Of October 1963: British Actor Sean Connery Lounges On A Sofa With A Cigarette

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#30 College Boys Trying To “Thumb” A Ride Home Over The Weekend, Near Natchitoches, Louisiana. Photographed By Marion Post Wolcott In June 1940

Image credits: sebcolorisation

#31 Richmond, Virginia, Circa 1908

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#32 August 4, 1938. Washington, D.c. Miss Dorothy Parker Has Been Selected As Miss Washington And Will Compete For The Title Of Miss America At The Atlantic City Beauty Pageant

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#33 Civilians And Soldiers Of The Royal Army. Medical Corps Distributing Refreshments The Wounded British In France, 1916

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#34 Lauren Bacall 1924-2014

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#35 Miss Lenora Rivero With Anthony Jannus In Rex Smith Aeroplane, 1911

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#36 Actress Katharine Hepburn, 1907-2003. Photographed By Alfred Eisenstaedt In 1937

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#37 Marilyn Monroe And Jane Russell Photographed On The Set Of “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”, Around 1953

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#38 Actress Louise Brooks Lounging On A Large Armchair. Photographed By Eugene Robert Richee In 1928

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#39 Massachusetts Bathing Girls, Revere Beach 1946

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#40 Photographed In 1936 By The French Photographer Pierre Jamet

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#41 February 9, 1927. Washington, D.c. Miss Grace Wagner, Central High School

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#42 Elegant Thérèse Bonney, Taking The Train, With Vuitton Luggage, 1928

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#43 Writer Rose Lee, Working At Her Desk, Photographed In 1941

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#44 Fort Worth, Texas. View Of Main Street Photographed By Arthur Rothstein In January 1942

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#45 Street View Of New York, Photographed By Pierre Chapo In 1956

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#46 French Actor Jean-Paul Belmondo, Having A Break During The Filming Of “Breathless ” From Jean-Luc Godard, Paris, 1960

Image credits: sebcolorisation

#47 Girls Listening To Music, Circa 1960

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#48 Mrs. Bliven In Auto, Washington, D.c., 1908

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#49 Meet The “World’s Strongest Seventh Grader” April Atkins 12 Years, Photographed By Loomis Dean In 1954

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#50 April 17, 1935. Pontiac Convertible Coupe At Tanforan Racetrack, San Bruno

Image credits: sebcolorisation

#51 Taxi Driver, Place Pigalle, 1958. Photographed By Paul Almasy

Image credits: sebcolorisation

#52 Simon Mayer, Commander Of The Place Vendôme Under The Commune, Photographed By Bruno Braquehais In 1871

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#53 Christmas Shopping Crowds, Gadsden, Alabama, Photographed By John Vachon In December 1940

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#54 Saint Mary’s Count, Maryland. People Going To All Faith Church. Photographed By Marjory Collins In July 1942

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#55 Construction Workers On The Porch Of A Local Boarding House Near Fort Benning, Columbus, Georgia. Photographed By Marion Post Wolcott In December 1940

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#56 Veteran Soldier Of Napoleon With His Old Uniform On The Anniversary Of Napoleon’s Death. Photographed In 1858

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#57 Model Wearing Suse Dannenburg ‘Jezebel’ Sweater, Photographed By Nina Leen For Life Magazine, 1947

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#58 Dr. Mccarl As A Chairman Of The American Legion Committee For The Memorial Day Ceremonies Opened The Program. Photographed By Marjory Collins In May 1942

Image credits: sebcolorisation

#59 Vicki Wood, The Fastest Woman On The Beach In The Late 1950s And Early 1960s

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#60 A General View Of A Street Leading To The Depot Of The Atchison, Topeka, And Santa Fe Railroad, Needles, California, Photographed By Jack Delano In March 1943

Image credits: sebcolorisation

#61 Cars Of Steelworkers Leaving Mill, Midland, Pennsylvania, USA, Jack Delano, January 1940

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#62 Clifford Shorts And His Family, Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, Photographed By Arthur Rothstein In July 1938

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#63 Washington, D.c., Circa 1861. Guards At The Ferry Landing On Mason’s Island Examining A Pass. Taken By George N. Barnard

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#64 Anonymous Couple Photographed In 1942

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#65 Students Of The University Of Maryland Photographed In 1923

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#66 December 1940. Grocery Store Window In Bath, Maine

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#67 American Women Workers Serving Algerian Fusiliers With Sandwiches At The American Red Cross Military Canteen At Juvisy, 1918

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#68 Two Girls Sunbathing At The Revere Beach, Massachusetts, Photographed By Leslie Jones In 1937

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#69 Sunbathers At The Swimming Pool, Greenbelt, Maryland. Photographed By Marjory Collins In June 1942

Image credits: sebcolorisation

#70 Washington, D.c., Circa 1917

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Source: boredpanda.com

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