Tinted by hand 5


Photo booth portraits are always fascinating, and this one has been lovingly hand tinted at some time. It is also larger than the passport size, measuring around 2″ by 4″. You can still specify one large print rather than four small ones in booths today. The photo came from America, which suggests it was taken there, and dates from the 1940s. It’s impossible to know if the operator did the colouring or the owner, but it is very well done and quite subtle for the most part.

Search for Tinted by hand to see previous examples.


tinted by hand 4

My last post on hand tinting showed postcard sized examples, but here are two larger examples, both approx 10″ by 8″.


Weddings photographs were something people would spend a little more on, and this formal image looks to have been done in a proper photo studio as the lighting is very good and there is a backdrop behind the group. Usually you would get a set of photographs in card folders, and then one or two for framing, in this case tinted.

The colouring is quite subtle, much of the original black and white photo is left alone, with just some pink added to the dresses and faces, and red on the bride’s shoes. A little touch of orange has been added to her shoulder decoration. Husband seems to be in a dress uniform jacket with one stripe indicates lance corporal, so it may be a war time wedding. That must be husband’s brother on the left.

There are just little hints of economising on the day itself; while the two ladies left and right seem dressed alike, clearly gloves were expensive and they don’t match – nor do the shoes.

The photographer has signed it in the corner (and missed something in the shoot leading to a white corner triangle, while he might have shoved the stool out of view as well!) but impossible to read and we don’t know who the people are or where it was taken.

Yellow shorts-Tinted-005

The little lad on the foot stool looks like a Jerome studio photo, but there is nothing on the back to confirm. Here the studio have gone for a yellow theme, and just added a little pink to the mouth and face. As before this subtle approach works quite well. Today you can get your digital images printed out on many different surfaces, and the parents here had theirs supplied in a mirror frame to hang on the wall. I would think late 1940s.

Tinted by hand 2

Tinted by hand 1

tinted by hand 3

Hand tinting was very popular in the pre-and immediate post-War years, and often adds an unexpected dimension to monochrome photographs as these two examples show. Photographic processors (and even walking picture firms) often offered a colouring service but you could buy small sets to do this at home.


The two women seated on a country style were out for a walk in the countryside around Lower Bourne, near Farnham in Sussex, and then Marjorie posted the card to Dorothy Walder to wish her a happy birthday on July 24th 1934.

It was processed and printed by the Jerome studio, who had branches across the country, although probably not in such a small town, and they may have tinted the card to order.


The couple posing in their garden (he has his house slippers on!) are unknown, but it looks to be from the late Thirties. It just says “Dad and Dolly” on the back in red biro, and someone has added “Alan’s” underneath the word Dad. You would expect it to say Dad and Mum if they were man and wife, so maybe the woman is another relation. Very hard to know if the tinting was done by the processors or not, as the print is a bit worn, but it is a neat job. A bit like the privet hedge!

Tinted by hand 2

Tinted by hand 1

Brigham Portrait

Gill Holtby 1929 Brigham portrait

Gillian Holtby, 1929

Having researched the history of Foster Brigham’s studios in Bridlington (particularly his Snaps walking pictures operation) , it is fascinating to discover photographs taken there of my own relatives.  This remarkable portrait is so well done, and hard to believe it’s a black and white portrait hand coloured by the studio, the work is so good.  It is nicely signed by Brigham in pencil, something most professionals did at the time.

It’s of my Aunt, Gillian Holtby, and was taken in 1929 in Bridlington at Brigham’s studio on The Promenade. As she was born in 1925, it makes her around four years old.  I have also found the original black and white photograph (also signed) from which the hand tinted version was done, so you get an idea of the work involved.

Gillian Holtby pre tinting

Gillian Holtby. Photographic portrait by Foster-Brigham, Bridlington. Gill born 1925, image taken C1928.

tinted by hand 2

I posted a brightly hand-tinted postcard on the site some time ago; this is by way of a follow-up.  The tinting here is fairly crude and as the carte de visit is of what looks like a young lad around 14 or so, it suggests to me that he might be the culprit! It’s certainly not the work of the late Victorian Middlesborough studio (The Cleveland Photo Art Company) where the original photograph was done. But I do like the idea that he got bored one afternoon and just had a dabble, perhaps with his Dad’s tinting kit.

Cleveland Photo Art company, middlesborough

Mention of tinting reminded me to show below this fascinating Kodak Soluble Crayon Outfit, sold for half a crown.  The small box held seven Ikea size pencil crayons, and a bottle of the “solution”.  I picked this up recently hoping to have a go but the product had a huge catch, it would only work on matt paper surfaces; the majority of old photographs of course have a glossy finish!  The process was to apply the solution to the area to be coloured, then use the crayons to scribble over gently, blending if necessary using cotton wool, and the colour would be permanent when it dried. It sounds quite a crude technique.  These sets were on the market in the early 1930s and judging by how many turn up, it suggests people found them difficult to master.

Tinted by hand 1

for tinting photographs, 2/6d