From the beginning of the 20th century, right up through the 1950s or so, commercial hand colouring was relatively common.  Today, there are a few photographers who keep the spirit alive.

Being exposed to photography and art since I was five has made me fall in love with all things creative...  I've been using oil and acrylic paints, water color and pencils and yet found a number of ideas with this man that made me again truly inspired.

How can I not ask to post this? this man clearly has a great talent... Meet Bob KeeferHe allows me to  post here how he does a hand-coloured photograph from start to finished.

This 8×10-inch black and white photo of summer leaves was shot on Tri-X and developed in Rodinal, a good combination for hand coloring, and printed on Luminos Charcoal paper, which, sadly, is no longer available. Here it’s taped to a work table to be colored.

 I use regular artist acrylic paints and brushes for my work.


After quickly sealing the surface of the photo with clear matte acrylic medium and letting it dry, I begin by painting areas of transparent yellow acrylic on the leaves….

..Then I start mixing darker olive green into some of the other leaves.

At this point the image looks a little ragged.

I pick up a wash of ultramarine blue and clear medium on a brush; the color is an excellent one for darkening and deepening shadow areas.

At this point I’m just incrementally adding color, drying the paint, stepping back, taking a look, and adding some more. 

Here I’ve just painted in some burnt sienna, a good warm reddish color, in some of the leafs. This really adds some subtle sparkle.

I sign my work on the front, in paint.

The final product.

About Bob Keefer

Bob has a degree in the study of religion from Harvard University. He’s been a newspaper writer for 30 years and now writes about art for The Register-Guard in Eugene, Oregon. In 2006 he was a fellow at National Endowment for the Arts workshop on theater and musical theatre.  He crafts fine hand-colored photographs the old-fashioned way, using film. He uses a chemical darkroom, fiber-based paper and artist’s paints, without using Photoshop or any such new-fangled technology.  No PhotoShop involved. Each resulting print is a unique work of art.
  - taken from

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  1. Image is like five frames to define an action. You have succeeded!
    Image ay gaya ng limang mga frames upang tukuyin ang isang aksyon. Ikaw ay nagtagumpay!

  1. Flory says:

    Thanks Catalin, you're right, I also love this feature...inspiring isn't?

    Ai dreptate, am si dragostea aceasta caracteristica ... i nu-i?

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