The period before colour film was invented was a time of happy collaboration between photographers and artists. Photography brought a measure of verisimilitude to portraits of kings and commoners, and painting infused life into these monochromatic canvases. READ MORE
Painted Vs Tinted
A closer look at the ways in which 19th-century colourists worked on black-and-white photographs
The photographs above demonstrate two different techniques of adding colour to a photograph. The one on the right, a portrait of the Maharani of Pratapgarh, has been finished by lightly tinting the glass-plate negatives, possibly with a water colour. Notice the skill with which the photographer has processed her sari, maintaining the translucent nature of the fabric. The portrait on the left represents the more popular technique, which involved covering the surface of the photo with paint. This picture of Maharani Chinku Bai Raje Scindia of Gwalior is credited to the photographic studio Vernon & Co.
Paint & Shoot
Meet some modern artists of hand-painted photography
Contemporary photographers are finding new inspiration in the painter’s studio. Some, like American-born Udaipur-based Waswo X Waswo, collaborate with miniature artists to create minutely detailed frames. Others travel fluidly between the roles of photographer and artist, like Paul Rousteau and Lisa Roze. The former, who has shot for Vogue Paris and Harper’s Bazaar, brings some of his fashion sensibility to bear to create moody landscapes, whose colours bleed outside the frame. Wendi Schneider is a fine art photographer who applies paint on archival photographs to deepen hues or bring a subtle flush of colour to the work.
Photo colourists were good at obscuring the line between real and fake. We put this portrait of an unidentified nobleman from our archives under the magnifying lens to find examples of hidden artistry—hit play and take the tour
Blurred Lines: Painting or Photograph?
Click on the jumping +s to find out!
WATCH: Artist Uses Paint to Turn Photos Into Paintings
It takes mastery over light and shadow—and lots of paint
Alexa Meade is an installation artist and a master of illusion. Unlike the photo-colourists of yore, she paints not a photograph but the subjects themselves! With the strategic placement of brush strokes on her models and backgrounds, she collapses 3-D spaces into 2-D works of art. Watch the video above to see how she does it. Alexa was recently in the news for working her magic paint-brush on pop star Ariana Grande for the video of 'God Is A Woman'. See more of her work here