Where do I look?!

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It’s funny how quickly people get bored with the internet.  Scrolling through one site, move on to the next one until finally you decide to walk away because you’re not finding what you’re looking for.  The internet has billions of places you can go to find vintage photographs, but what if you want to take a day off from the internet?  Are there places you can still find old photographs while not hooked to your devices like a droid in Star Wars?  Yes.

The most common place?  Antique stores.  You’d be surprised how many people drop off old photographs at Antique and junk shops.  Why?  1) The person is clearing out a house for a neighbor who passed away and nobody wanted the photos 2) Family didn’t want them 3) Moving and don’t have time to deal with them 4) Got them in the custody battle and don’t want them – whatever the reason.  Take the time to look, I found two TinTypes and snagged them.  One word of advice – Take the time to look at the photos because the owner just figures all the photos they have are old, but sometimes people are able to get money out of scans.

Garage/yard sales are another place, and for the same reasons you see the photographs in Antique stores.  As weird as it sounds, when a business goes out of business and decides to sell everything – go.  You’d be surprised what you find.  Even if its a furniture store, there are times when picking around you’ll find photos from when the store first opened 50 years earlier.  Flea markets is another one to poke around at.

Another great place to go is the theater.  The world of stage holds decades of photographic history showing thousands of actors and singers who made us laugh and cry.  The catch is you won’t get to keep these photographs.  If your theater is anything like the historic theater in my city; you can copy the original but that’s it.  One thing I’d recommend is you donate a copy of the restored/colorized photograph(s) if the theater offers to give you photographs to work with – that will help you professionally.

I currently have photographs of my late grandfather when he was in the navy, as well as photographs my grandmother almost got rid of when she moved into assisted living – she has asked that I am the soul owner of these photographs.  Helping a family member, or friend with moving or even just packing could lead to receiving old photographs because sometimes they would rather you have them instead of antique stores or they end up in the trash.

You could also go to your local newspaper.  Might be the same kind of deal as with the theater, or they might let you keep the photograph.  Could depend.

Good luck on your search!

Where do you go?

I’ve talked about researching and making sure the photograph you have can be sold once you colorize it.  For instance; you find a rare photograph of Clark Gable in the military and want to sell prints.  The story of the famous Hollywood star in the military is one that will pull in customers (Hitler told his soldiers to hunt down Clark Gable, he wanted the actor and our soldiers took him into hiding), but is Clark one that will get you in trouble?

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For example, this photograph.  Where do you go to find out Clark Gable is a name that won’t get you in trouble?  It’s easy enough actually; contact Hollywood historic societies and find out what you can.  If there’s no trouble there, don’t forget to search WWII historic societies because a lot of times they are VERY strict about the actors who served in the war (John Wayne can’t be sold because of his WWII films, and other reason).

What about someone who wasn’t connected to the military?  Maybe someone like Bing Crosby

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Bing was a successful singer (known also as the Crooner), who had a wonderful friendship with Bob Hope (they did several films known as “The Road to…”, I recommend them if you’re into silly slapstick comedy).  He’s best known now for his role in White Christmas and Christmas albums….so would one just go to Hollywood historical societies to research photographs of him?  Not quite.  His years in music will mean you need to check whatever music historical societies, and he did have a career in vaudeville if I remember so you may have to look there too.  There’s still a large fanbase for him, so it’s kind of tricky if Bing is off limits or not; it could depend on what photograph you use.

Historic societies have all the information you need and people are always willing to work with you.  They are fully aware that there’s a popularity for colorizing vintage photographs and want to help make it easy on you.  Hope this helps!

Clients and Policies

Where would any business be without clients? They are the the reason any business is truly successful because without them, you’re just a one man band so to speak. Clients can range from models all the way to the customer. So how do you deal with a client that demands special requests? I mean we’ve covered things like uniforms HAVE to be a certain color or you get in trouble, and that not all photographs with stands behind the subject mean post mortem….but what if the client doesn’t care?

I worked in retail for YEARS and trust me, I know how difficult customers can be – if the item they want is out of stock they’re angry with you. If your store is small and is void of a particular department, they’re mad at you. How does this work with colorizing photographs? Well say a customer comes to you and asks if you will colorize this photograph

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However, you’re asked to remove the lion all together and just colorize the girl. The colors requested are bright neon 1980s/1990s colors instead of the subtle colors that fit the time this photograph was shot. What do you do? Risk not getting paid by saying “I can’t do that”, or just go ahead and do as requested and take the warning?  Take it from someone who was an assistant manager and dance instructor – follow policy or else your butt ends up in the fire.

Well first of all this particular image is from the very first Wizard of Oz Broadway show back in 1917, and since the franchise is still popular today anything surrounding Wizard of Oz has to have permission before any manipulation process can be done. If you make contact and get permission for the client, make sure to go the extra mile and ask about usage of color on the photograph (it may sound odd, but the franchise has the upper hand in this), and if the usage contradicts what your client wants – contact the client. The client will either scrap the idea and walk away from you, or go along with it and understand the reason because surprisingly not all clients disagree.

You’re not always going to come across this sort of scenario – where a photograph limits you and makes you go on a treasure hunt. The request could be something as simple as a family photograph or a random photo someone found at a yard sale. Just make sure to keep up with your research and history because there’s always going to be that client who will ask you to restore/colorize a photograph, and it’s the John Dillinger of photographs.

Hope this helps!

Helpful tip

When you’re restoring your photographs, and removing all those spots, what tool do you use?  I noticed a lot of tutorials tell you to use the clone stamp; at times that can be a quick fix but what if the photo is badly damaged and it’s going to take some time to fix?  Here’s a suggestion

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On your tool list, notice the one above the paintbrush and below the eyedropper?  That’s the patch tool.  When you select that tool, then select a spot in the photograph

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From there, place the cursor inside the selected area, and then move it.  The selected area will capture where you place it, and the spot will be gone.

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The clone stamp is great for seams and lines, but for this sort of thing I’d recommend the patch tool because the clone stamp tends to matte things down the more you use it on solid color.  The patch tool won’t do that.

Hope this helps!

Lily Elsie

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This lovely lady is Lily Elsie; the Merry Widow or also the most photographed woman of her day.  These days she’s known to resemble Hollywood actress Rachel Weisz.  Lily was a stage actress, and quite active for a number of years – and so I figured she would be off limits for selling.

Though a celebrity, her photographs – colorized – can be sold.  I’ll be placing mine in my gallery this weekend.  Have fun!

Fun Fact!

This isn’t Edwardian Era version of Tangled or you never know that could be what the stage production was about.  Actually her name is Mary Garden, and she was an Opera singer.  For the longest time I had her as an unknown Shakespeare actress.

Well, as it turns out I was going through my colorized photographs and found her, so I decided to look around and find out more about her – a site has a clip of her singing!

http://www.britannica.com/biography/Mary-Garden

Enjoy!  I love finding tidbits like this about the photographs I restore/colorize