Painted B&W Photos Make A Big Comeback in China


Lots of Chinese people will be familiar with artificially coloured images, with many people owning family photos like these from generations past. The technique was deemed outdated. But now, with the likes of Instagram and other filtering or post-produced photos on trend, it.s back with a bang.

Forget technicolor, black and white is back. Customers at the Dabei Photoshop in Beijing are mainly young people looking to revert back to an old way of doing things:

“Black and white pictures feel more three-dimensional.”

“It.s more fashionable.”

“I still have pictures that were manually coloured from my childhood. So I want to give my child one too.”

It seems there.s always a need to be different in a manufacturing age. Painted black & white pictures have got it covered.

“I want to make it feel like an oil painting – an oil painting with you in it!” said photo painter Sun Yan.

Sun Yan is the only photo painter here at the Dabei Photoshop. In 1980, she took over the job from her father and started her career painting black and white photos. Back in the 70s and early 80s , Dabei had some 30 photo painters, more than photographers. However, everything changed quickly when color photos exploded.

“In those difficult times, only one person was doing it. It couldn.t make anyone a living,” Sun said.

The Beijing Municipality wants to save this old craft and have subsequently made it an intangible culture heritage. They also plan to invite retired experts to coach young apprentices.

“Based on people’s tastes today, I think we can develop it into something customized,” Sun said.