The Incredible Lost Art of Hand-Tinted Photography

Sunday February 11, 2018 Written by suzi

In Smith Journal volume 25, we profile Grace Rawson (pictured below), a colourist who used to team up with pilots and photographers to recreate New Zealand landscapes from the air. Rawson's job was to paint colour over the black and white photographs – some of which were blown up to the size of giant murals. She used high-quality oil paint diluted with turpentine so it could be smeared across the surface of the photographs. “Sometimes the turpentine was a bit nasty. We’d get rashes from using too much,” she recalls. Rawson would paint using canes with a point at one end, rather than brushes. She tells Smith, “We’d roll cotton wool really tightly around the point, almost like a cotton wool bud. Brushes would have made the paint too thick.”

You can watch a short documentary film about Rawson above, or read the full article in Smith volume 25. Subscribe, buy a copy from our online shop, or find your local stockist.
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Image and film: Loading Docs, Directors: Greg Wood, Peter Alsop