By Emma Taggart on My Modern Met site:
Graphic artist and history buff Frédéric Duriez digitally colorizes vintage black and white photographs, breathing new life into their subjects. Duriez started colorizing war images three years ago, and today his work ranges from old mug-shots to actors and actresses, and most recently, ghost-like portraits from the Victorian era.
The incredible images depict glum-looking children, extravagantly dressed; a sullen young couple, adorned in frilly clothing; a pair of young women, their hair perfectly pinned back; and earnest men, posing proudly. Duriez explains he chose the images because he “was attracted by the beauty of the clothes and especially the dresses of this period.” He adds, “I was fascinated by these portraits without expression because all the looks are frozen in time.”
From monochrome hues, Duriez uses the open-source software GIMP to transform the portraits, presenting brightly colored clothing, blushed cheeks, and in some, beautiful red hair. However, the artist explains that the process was challenging, as the images he works with “are without relief and contrast.”
During the early days of photography, the daguerreotype method required exposures lasting at least fifteen minutes. This could possibly explain why the subjects in Victorian portraits are rarely seen smiling and why images of the era were more focused on capturing a person’s essence, rather than a brief moment in time.
You might be thinking that a fifteen-minute exposure time is a long wait. However, this was actually a huge improvement from the first ever photograph taken by Joseph Niepce in 1826, which took an astounding eight hours to produce.