Colored Historical Photos Look Shockingly Lifelike

April 2, 2016 Updated: October 5, 2018

You’ve probably seen these pictures before. Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy. But chances are you’ve never seen them like this.

The vintage artsy feel gets obliterated, while in its place emerges an air of mundane familiarity.

Perhaps that’s the main strength of Marina Amaral‘s work. She exerts great effort to color historical photographs to give us a new perspective on great events and figures of the past.

Winston Churchill. (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)
Winston Churchill. (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)

What may be surprising, Amaral has no background in art or design. She’s an international relations student.

The coloring work turned out to be an intersection of two passions of hers.

“I’ve always been fascinated by history and Photoshop has always been my favorite thing to do on my free time. I spent all the time that I had exploring the software tools and trying to develop own techniques,” she told Epoch Times in an email interview. “One day I found some colorizations on the internet, by accident, and I was fascinated by the possibility to transform my two passions into one single thing.”

American troops on D Day. (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)
American troops on D Day. (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)

But just because it’s a hobby, doesn’t mean she skimps on it.

“It can take me hours or even days,” she said.

Abraham Lincoln. (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)
Abraham Lincoln. (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)

“The most important part is the research process. I need to dedicate a few hours to find as many information as I can before I start to work. That’s very important, in order to respect the original atmosphere of the image and to preserve all the historical details,” Amaral said. “Sometimes, however, I can’t find enough information, because some photographs are very old. Then I have to use an educated guess.”

The details are the hardest. “I can’t use green in an object that everybody knows that was red,” she said. “I do my best to keep me faithful to the original colors and to preserve as much information as I can.”

Of course, some people prefer the look of the originals.

“From time to time, I get messages from people who don’t understand the purpose of my work,” Amaral  said. “So I like to make it clear that I’m not trying to replace the original images. I’m just trying to offer a second perspective.”

The next step for her is to produce a book and set up an exhibition. “I’m just waiting for an invitation!” she said.

(Courtesy of Marina Amaral)
(Courtesy of Marina Amaral)

Jack Kerouac Naval Reserve Enlistment, 1943. (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)

Lee Harvey Oswald (October 18, 1939 – November 24, 1963) was the sniper who assassinated John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, on November 22, 1963. According to five U.S. government investigations, Oswald shot and killed Kennedy as he traveled by motorcade through Dealey Plaza in the city of Dallas, Texas. (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)

Jacqueline Lee “Jackie” Kennedy Onassis (July 28, 1929 – May 19, 1994) was the wife of the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, and First Lady of the United States during his presidency from 1961 until his assassination in 1963. Five years later, she married Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis; they remained married until his death in 1975. (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)

B-26 Marauder is a World War II twin-engined medium bomber built by the Glenn L. Martin Company from 1941 to 1945. (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)

Lee Harvey Oswald portrait. (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)

Lee Harvey Oswald portrait. (Dallas Police)

Alphonse Gabriel “Al” Capone (January 17, 1899 – January 25, 1947) was an American gangster who attained fame during the Prohibition era as the co-founder and boss of the Chicago Outfit. His seven-year reign as crime boss ended when he was 33 years old. (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)

French civilians, standing under the tri-color in their village, welcome three American soldiers, members of the Army of Liberation. The soldiers, left to right, are Private Clem Lore, Caldwell, Ohio, Sergeant Vincent De Angalis, Providence, New York, and Sergeant Robert Ryan, Schenectady, New York. St. Honorine, France. 12 June 1944. (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)

August 1911. “Arthur Chalifoux (4th boy from left), 3 Rand St. North Adams, Massachusetts. Works in Eclipse Mills.” Photograph by Lewis Wickes Hine. (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)

In this poignant photograph, people at Times Square in New York City are seen reading a news ticker about D-Day (Normandy landings), the largest seaborne invasion in history. D-Day occurred on 6 June 1944 when Allied forces targeted a 50-mile (80 km) stretch of Normandy, France to begin the invasion of German-occupied western Europe. (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)

Yang Kyoungjong (1920 – 1992) was a Korean soldier who fought during World War II in the Imperial Japanese Army, the Soviet Red Army, and later the German Wehrmacht. His story was revealed by an article of ‘Weekly Korea’ on Dec. 6th, 2002, which became a big topic in the Korean society at the time. (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)

Dwight David “Ike” Eisenhower (October 14, 1890 – March 28, 1969). (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)

Gen Dwight D. Eisenhower gives a friendly smile to three German youngsters who were watching as the SHAPE commander’s Jeep drove past their elementary school. (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)

The Kennedy family. (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)

Crew of an ACS M10 (Wolverine) self-propelled gun, 703rd Tank Destroyer Battalion of the 3rd Armored Division, pose in a pit near the French town of Marigny. (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)

Broad Street, New York, 1905. (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)

Point Pleasant, West Virginia. A small child with a puppy. (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)

Grace Patricia Kelly (November 12, 1929 – September 14, 1982) was an American actress who, after marrying Prince Rainier III, became Princess of Monaco. (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)

In this photograph a small group of soldiers coming out of a trench, over the protective sandbag wall. (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)

James Byron Dean (February 8, 1931 – September 30, 1955) was an American actor. (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)

Unemployed men hanging out on the street in San Francisco, California (April 1939). (Photo by Dorothea Lange, Library of Congress/Courtesy of Marina Amaral)

At the German concentration camp at Wobbelin, many inmates were found by the U.S. Ninth Army in pitiful condition. Here one of them breaks out in tears when he finds he is not leaving with the first group to the hospital. (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)

Lyndon Johnson meeting with civil rights leaders. (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)

Priscilla and Elvis met in November 1959 at a party at Elvis’ off-base residence in Bad Nauheim in Germany. She was 14 1/2 years old. (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom took place in Washington, D.C., on August 28, 1963. Attended by some 250,000 people, it was the largest demonstration ever seen in the nation’s capital, and one of the first to have extensive television coverage. (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)

A French boy introduces himself to Indian soldiers who had just arrived in France to fight alongside French and British forces, Marseilles, 30th September 1914. (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)

Ravensbrück was the only major Nazi concentration camp for women. At the end of autumn 1938, Himmler decided to establish a concentration camp for women in Ravensbrück. (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)

British Premier Sir Neville Chamberlain, on his return from talks with Hitler in Germany, at Heston airfield, London, England, on September 24, 1938. Chamberlain brought with him a terms of the plan later to be called the Munich Agreement, which, in an act of appeasement, allowed Germany to annex Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland. (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)
British Premier Sir Neville Chamberlain, on his return from talks with Hitler in Germany, at Heston airfield, London, England, on September 24, 1938. Chamberlain brought with him a terms of the plan later to be called the Munich Agreement, which, in an act of appeasement, allowed Germany to annex Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland. (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)

A young fighter from the Danh Son Huol Cambodian ethnic group was taken to a field hospital in the forest of U Minh after being wounded in a United States air raid. The hospital stood hidden in a swamp on the Viet Cong-controlled peninsula of Ca Mau. Sept. 15, 1970. (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)

Three French boys look at a knocked-out German Panther tank in the Falaise pocket. Near Falaise, Lower Normandy, France. 25th August 1944. (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)

George Herman “Babe” Ruth, Jr. (February 6, 1895 – August 16, 1948) was an American professional baseball player whose career in Major League Baseball (MLB) spanned 22 seasons, from 1914 through 1935. (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)

An unidentified American soldier, shot dead by a German sniper, clutches his rifle and hand grenade in March of 1945 in Koblenz, Germany. (AP Photo/Byron H. Rollins/courtesy of Marina Amaral)

An unidentified American soldier, shot dead by a German sniper, clutches his rifle and hand grenade March 23, 1945 in Coblenz, Germany. (AP Photo/Byron H. Rollins)
An unidentified American soldier, shot dead by a German sniper, clutches his rifle and hand grenade March 23, 1945 in Coblenz, Germany. (AP Photo/Byron H. Rollins)

In the dark early days of the Second World War Churchill had few real weapons. He attacked with words instead. The speeches he delivered then are among the most powerful ever given in the English language. (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)

November 1939. Waco, Texas. “Proprietor of small store in market square.” Pop bottles on the cooler: Woosies, Double Line and Double Cola. 35mm nitrate negative by Russell Lee for the Farm Security Administration. (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)

Captain Thomas H. Garahan, ‘Easy’ Company, 2nd Battalion, 398th Infantry Regiment, 100th Infantry Division raises the ‘Stars and Stripes’ flag made secretly by a local French girl. The photo was taken by the owner of the photographic shop in Rue Colonel Teyssier in the town of Bitche, in the Moselle department of Lorraine in northeastern France. (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)

Corporal Aubrey of the British Special Forces sharpens his fighting knife as he prepares for combat. 1944. (Courtesy of Marina Amaral)

(Courtesy of Tal Peleg)
(Courtesy of Tal Peleg)






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