A Collection Of Amazing, Iconic Colorized Photos You Won’t Believe Were Black And White

Technology may progress in leaps and bounds but it often has trouble keeping up with itself.

Take photography, for example.

Originally a monochrome medium, it has evolved to include the color spectrum and then jump to a digital medium, even allowing for 3-dimensional imagery, all within a relatively short time frame. But, with these advances, those early, pioneering images fell by the wayside, not forgotten yet still left behind in the face of the newer, bigger and better (?) state of the art.

These days, however, technology has caught up with itself and we can retroactively add color to all these images that got left behind, from the earliest daguerreotypes to those black and white images taken just prior to the dawn of color processing in wide availability. While some photographers in the digital age like to take the color out of their photos for artistic purposes, it’s much more exciting (and less pretentious) to see the dedicated work of those who put color into old black and white photos.

Anyone not familiar with the Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling frescoes may not know that this great assembly of Italian Renaissance art was restored, controversially so, within the last 40 years. Modern art scholars and aficionados were shocked at the amazing color of Michelangelo’s original work after being degraded with centuries’ worth of age and exposure to candle smoke and other potential harm.

Just something to take to the table next time the color vs. black & white debate comes up.

Weeki Wachee

RMS Mauretania, with Chief Engineer John Currie, 1909

RMS Mauretania
RMS Mauretania

Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe

The original is a part of the collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The colorized version, done by Mads Madsen, adds the frailty and warmth of humanity that the stark and monochromatic original takes away. The subject becomes a person again, done to particular effect with her hair.

The Buddhist Crisis

The Buddhist Crisis
The Buddhist Crisis

Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn
Audrey Hepburn

Hoover Dam Construction

Hoover Dam Construction
Hoover Dam Construction

Gas Mask Training

Gas Mask Training
Gas Mask Training

James Dean

James Dean
dean bw

The Battle of Iwo Jima

The Battle Of Iwo Jima
The Battle of Iwo Jima

Of the six men portrayed—Franklin Sousley, Harlon Block, Michael Strank, John Bradley, Rene Gagnon, and Ira Hayes—only three survived the battle. The photo was used as the basis for the Marine Corps War Memorial, sculpted by Felix de Weldon, adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery.

Salvador Dalí

Salvador Dalí
Salvador Dalí

Dalí is quoted as saying “Don’t bother about being modern. Unfortunately it is the one thing that, whatever you do, you cannot avoid.”

In this case, Sal, it’s a good thing to show you in all your mad glory. (Madsen)

Che Guevara

Che Guevara
Che Guevara

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein

Trailer Park Guest

Trailer Park Guest
Trailer Park guest

Mark Twain

Mark Twain
Mark Twain

“Of the demonstrably wise there are but two: those who commit suicide, and those who keep their reasoning faculties atrophied by drink.” – Mark Twain

(Madsen)

Nuclear Bomb Test

Nuclear Bomb Test
nuke bw

Jim Henson

Jim Henson
Jim Henson

“The most sophisticated people I know – inside they are all children.” – Jim Henson

Migrant Mother

Migrant Mother
Migrant mother

John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck
John Steinbeck

In East of Eden, he captures his native Salinas Valley—the sights, sounds, smells and, of course, the colors— for his two sons, Thom and John, to whom the novel was originally addressed.

Beer Drinking Farmers

Beer Drinking Farmers
Farmers Drinking Beer

Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash

What was your favorite colorized, formerly black & white photo?