In this day and age of Photoshop, we were inspired to explore the lost art of altering photographs by hand with this Altered Photograph Art Project!
This altered photograph project was inspired by these photos above that we stumbled upon online. I didn’t have any luck tracing them back to the source – anyone know?? Anyone? Anyone? Buehler?
This project had me traveling down memory lane and recalling some super early influences from back in the day! I lived in Seattle for 11 years in the late 80’s/90’s and rode the #11 bus from Madison Park to downtown Seattle every. single. day. At the bus stop downtown, there was a little shop that restored and colored old photographs by hand. Every day, I’d stand in a light drizzle at my bus stop peering into the display window of this shop, fascinated by the process and fantasizing about doing this for a living! I marveled at the healing power of art, & how a talented artist could painstakingly bring old moldy torn photos literally back from the dead. It was just a little shop with one elderly man dabbling away a drafting table in the window, and his pile of old photos in his dusty inbox was a foot high. Talk about job security! I wondered about his plans to retire…
One of my first jobs was doing layouts in the “paste up” era for a little newspaper. With paste up layout, every word and image was cut with the Xacto knife that was permanently in your hand, and “glued” onto a layout board by rolling the paper through a hot wax machine. If you miscalculated your requested font size for your headline, you had to go back to the typesetters (a team of actual people! really grumpy people) and request they print it again (it was kind of a big deal to get it right the first time). Random letters, pictures and sometimes entire paragraphs were constantly falling off between the time you pasted it up and the time it went to print. Who’s fault was that? But I digress and sound like an old lady… We’ll save darkroom photography for another day. Oh but hey! I must have seen the digital age coming because at the tender age of 20 I got a bank installment loan for something like $3500 (yep, for reals) to buy an Apple Macintosh Plus. I might still be paying for that…
So as our teens were working on this project in camp, I tried to put myself in their shoes. I’m not that old, but these kids have lived their entire lives in a digital world. I’d have to double check, but I’m pretty sure Miss Katie & Miss Sonja (who both taught this project) may also know very little of a world without Photoshop.
The concept of enhancing photographs by hand was something totally foreign to this group of teens! We used a variety of materials – watercolors, watercolor pencils, fine art pens, pastels, collage papers. We were pretty impressed with the designs the kids came up with! What do you think?
If you’re interested in trying your hand at hand coloring photographs, check out this great tutorial from A Beautiful Mess.