Episode 71: Colorizing the Past with The Photo Alchemist

Way back when colorizing photographs was a controversial topic. Should they or shouldn’t they be colorized?  Now there is wide public support for the process. It’s done digitally, not like our ancestors adding color with artist materials.  You can find whole collections of images of historical events looking like they were taken yesterday in eye-popping full color. The techniques and tints used today or nothing like what was used a decade or more ago.  Photo colorists match the authenticity of the shades they used with actual examples of clothing dyes from the period in which the image dates. My guest, Claudia D’Souza is a U.K. based photo restoration professional. 

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About My Guest:

In 2009, Claudia d’Souza started researching her family history. Soon she was diving into the fortunes and misfortunes of my ancestors.

Claudia marveled at the explorer life of her German great grandfather Frederick, whose father was a founding member of the now-extinct German Club in Burma, and who was forced to flee to India, and leave all his wealth behind, following the invasion of the Japanese;  She unraveled the tragic life of British great-grandma Jayne who, by the age of 23, had already buried three husbands. She’s trying to discover the mysterious origins of her Portuguese Grandfather Candido, who was abandoned on the doorstep of a rich doctor, on a cold Christmas Eve.

Photographs became a huge part of her newly found obsession. However, she was saddened to find that photos were scarce, and often in very bad condition. I searched for restoration services, but they all required her to part with the originals. 

So, combining her advanced IT skills with a passion for fashion history and art, she started exploring and developing ways of not only restoring and retouching old photos but also adding carefully researched color, enabling us to see our ancestors, just like they saw themselves and each other.

About Maureen Taylor:

Maureen is a frequent keynote speaker on photo identification, photograph preservation, and family history at historical and genealogical societies, museums, conferences, libraries, and other organizations across the U.S., London, and Canada.  She’s the author of several books and hundreds of articles and her television appearances include The View and The Today Show (where she researched and presented a complete family tree for host Meredith Vieira).  She’s been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Better Homes and Gardens, The Boston Globe, Martha Stewart Living, Germany’s top newspaper Der Spiegel, American Spirit, and The New York Times. Maureen was recently a spokesperson and photograph expert for MyHeritage.com, an internationally known family history website and also writes guidebooks, scholarly articles and online columns for such media as Smithsonian.com. Learn more at Maureentaylor.com

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