I don’t remember when I first fell in love with photography but I do know it was at a very early age.

There are a few photos that I remember fondly from my childhood.  One of them is my parents’ wedding photograph which originally hung on the lounge room wall of the family home but was later moved to the writing desk.  It is still there today, mounted in a simple white frame.  My parents make a handsome couple;  my mother  in her long, lacey wedding dress and veil and my father in a dark suit.  The two bridesmaids wore a soft pink and a baby blue, full length 1950’s style dresses.  Their bouquets were pink.  Another is an aerial photograph taken of my grandfather’s property near Walcha in NSW.  The roof of the house is quite a bright red and the paddocks are a lush green.  This photograph still hangs in the entrance hall of my Aunt and Uncle’s house.

Both of these photographs were hand coloured.  Perhaps this is why I have such fond memories of them?  I remember thinking how lovely it was that they were photos, but they were also like paintings.  The colouring of the aerial photograph is rather crude and looks a little rushed.  It is probably also likely that the paddocks were not as lush and green as represented in the photograph, but it is still a great image.

It wasn’t until I went to Uni that I really fell in love with hand coloured photographs.  One of my lecturers, Miranda Lawry, was skilled in the craft (along with book binding) and I admired artists such as Robyn Stacey, Micky Allan and Kate Breakey who took this traditional art medium and employed similar techniques in their contemporary exhibition images.   I even wrote my final year research paper on “The Art of Hand Colouring”  and created three children’s books featuring hand coloured photographs for my final year exhibition.

So, did I mention that I LOVE hand coloured photographs?

Today when I ‘hand colour’ a photograph, I use Photoshop and my ‘I can not live without’ Wacom tablet instead of my trusty Marshall’s oils and pencils which are safely stored somewhere in the garage, but the technique I use for colouring an image today is not unlike the technique I used twenty something years ago.  I apply my colour, adjust the opacity of that colour and build layers of colour to achieve the desired result.   There is no smell of oil paints or thinning solution or endless cotton buds littering my desk.  Just my computer and trusty Wacom tablet.

I recently had a client send a photo through for restoration.  It is a charming  photograph taken in 1962 of six year old Margaret, dressed for a special event at the South Bundaberg Primary School in QLD.  As soon as I saw this image I wanted to colour it.  Yes, it looks great as a black and white image, but those candy stripes were just begging to be coloured red.  Margaret agreed and this is the end result.

hand coloured image by Carol Heath, Pixel By Pixel

Thank you Margaret for allowing me to share.  I thoroughly enjoyed working on this image;  not a difficult one at all to restore but such a glorious image.

Hand colouring (otherwise known as colourisation) is just one topic taught in my Photo Restoration courses.

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