There’s something absolutely fascinating behind the psychology of black and white versus colour photographs, especially those from history. I think the black and white nature of a photograph detaches you somewhat from the feeling of the photograph being of a real time and place event. Perhaps the exception to the rule is family photographs because you have that relationship and connection, thus being able to place roughly the subject of the photograph in time. However with general abstract historic photography, it’s hard to feel like you can imagine being there, as there is an absence of reality. I don’t see in shades of grey and as such take that photo as just that; a visual representation of something that happened a long time ago.
I first became aware of Marina Amaral through Twitter. She had posted up a colourised photo of a victim of Auschwitz. She always posts up the original and the colourised version side-by-side and it was a hair standing up moment; I could see the subtle tones of this girl’s skin; the varying shades of her uniform and the fear in her eyes. The presence of colour brought a whole new meaning to this photograph, in some way bringing life to it. It seems daft to even think it, but by adding in the realistic colour palette back into this once grey photograph, it brings the people back to life, like you were there when the photograph was taken.
At the start of the year Marina announced that she had teamed up with famed historian Dan Jones to launch a book of colourised photographs, teamed up with Dan’s writing that puts the photo in context of chronological history. We are plopped into 1850 and brought right through to 1960 via many major historical events. Each spread is laid out in glorious colour with a good page length of text, printed on heavyweight paper, all wrapped neatly in a beautiful full-colour hard-back binding. It’s a proper tome as well.
I am hoping this partnership will continue with subsequent books released – Marina is constantly updating her Twitter feed with her own threads of stories set against the latest colourised image she’s done. It’s just brilliant and I’m so pleased to have enjoyed this magnificent journey through time.