Keeping memories alive can be done in many ways, but photographs are probably one of the most common ones. Photos capture a moment in history, memory and serve as a reminder of how it used to be. However, really old photographs are in black and white, so it's often hard to relate to them and see yourself in that time.

That's where digital artist Sébastien de Oliveira comes in. Sébastien uses Photoshop to color old photographs and give them more life. The people in the photos look much more realistic and the pictures become so much more inviting.

Sébastien told Bored Panda: "Sébastien de Oliveira, French, father Portuguese and mother French, I live in Paris, married, two daughters. For my background, I studied in a school of fine art in Orléans, with my specialization in illustration and photography, then I moved to Milan where I lived for 7 years and worked as an illustrator for architects and as an assistant for a fashion illustrator. I moved to Paris 17 years ago to become a retoucher for the fashion industry."

More info: Instagram

#1

Happy Anonymous Couple, 1948

Happy Anonymous Couple, 1948

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Isabela Ivan
Community Member
2 months ago

Wow...bold choice of colours

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"I began 5 years ago to colorize some images and it became unstoppable. My three passions can combine themselves in colorization: painting, photography, and history. I spend lots of time finding images that tell a story. After spending some time on WW1 and WW2 images, now I am more interested in simple street views or peaceful 'tranche de vie' (pieces of everyday life) or colorizing portraits of actors from the golden age of Hollywood. I like to get into all the details that can be found in a photo and try to give my own interpretation."

#2

Circus Girls In Sarasota, Florida, By Nina Leen In 1949

Circus Girls In Sarasota, Florida, By Nina Leen In 1949

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D S
Community Member
2 months ago

It feels like sneak peeking in the everyday lifes of the past.

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#3

Blue Island, Illinois. The Senise Family Going To The Movie, By Jack Delano, Feb 1943

Blue Island, Illinois. The Senise Family Going To The Movie, By Jack Delano, Feb 1943

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Anam
Community Member
2 months ago

Edward Hopper feels. ✌️

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"I collect old color photos as references to inspire me and to avoid anachronisms, but my colorizations are more a dreamed version of the reality than a will to give the perfection of what would have been seen by a modern camera. My references are more the saturated colors of the cinema from the ’50s, or the Autochromes of the Lumière brothers, where the color is more impressionist than realistic. I recently worked for the Vuitton book Extraordinary Voyages, where 20 colorizations were published. I mounted an exhibition in Dunkirk with 40 colorizations of photos of a woman photographer from the town during the German Occupation in WW2. I began to share my work only 3 months ago on Instagram and already have encountered really good feedback."

#4

Jacqueline Cochran, (1906-1980), 1939

Jacqueline Cochran, (1906-1980), 1939

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Serial pacifist
Community Member
2 months ago

Everything's elegant in this photo, the girl, the plane...

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#5

Chicago, 1941

Chicago, 1941

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Dani R
Community Member
2 months ago

Thos is so neat! It really made the man come alive!

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Sébastien de Oliveira told us why he colorizes photos and how he got into it: "At the beginning, it was my hobby, but it is becoming a big part of my activity now, I am a photo retoucher and I work for the fashion industry in Paris. I have a background in Fine Arts studies so I paint and I take photos. My other passion was history, so I found a way to combine my three passions in one."

#6

Althea Gibson Winner Of The Wimbledon Championship With Her Compatriot Darlene Hard, 1957

Althea Gibson Winner Of The Wimbledon Championship With Her Compatriot Darlene Hard, 1957

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Mongoose Jones
Community Member
2 months ago

I THINK this is Althea Gibbs the first great female Black tennis champion.

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#7

Audrey Hepburn (1929-1993) In 1956

Audrey Hepburn (1929-1993) In 1956

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Karl Baxter
Community Member
2 months ago

The lost art of smoking and eating

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The artist shares the most difficult part of colorizing photos: "I have a method so all the different stages are under control and not really difficult by themselves but the most difficult is always to choose a color for people's clothing, because of the immensity of choice."

#8

Cars And Girls, 1942

Cars And Girls, 1942

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Marie Peckham
Community Member
2 months ago

Who needs a mirror when your car shines like this one!

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#9

Parisian Girls Enjoying The Fun Fair, Paris, 1935

Parisian Girls Enjoying The Fun Fair, Paris, 1935

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Abhinc
Community Member
2 months ago

is it me or the woman on the left kinda looks like Drew Barrymore ???

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Sébastien shared his favorite and least favorite time periods to work with: "I love the street views from the ’40s and ’50s with rounded cars and people wearing costumes, it is always so cinematographic! My favorite time period is the American ’40s and I don’t know why, but I like that era for the lack of plastic, the beauty of the cars and clothes, and the link it makes with the cinema of this period. My least favorite would be the beginning of the century 1900, you never know how to color the people's clothes!"

#10

Family Of Cherry Pickers By John Vachon, 1940

Family Of Cherry Pickers By John Vachon, 1940

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Melissa TO
Community Member
2 months ago

Lol, the red head kid reminds me of Dwight Shrute!

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#11

New York In 1942, By Marjory Collins

New York In 1942, By Marjory Collins

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Lori Meed
Community Member
2 months ago (edited)

Love this composition and perspective.

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"I started these colorizations 5 years ago and don't want to stop any time soon. I inspire myself with old color photos, autochromes, cinema pictures from the past, so my style is quite saturated, with vivid colors. My research is not realism, it is more pictural, impressionist, the subjects are often happy and peaceful. What also inspires me is the immensity of the black and white photos, great photos, beautiful photos, that are fantastic as they are but can also get rediscovered with the process of colorization."

#12

War Time Beach On An English Coast, 1941

War Time Beach On An English Coast, 1941

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Lori Meed
Community Member
2 months ago

Please give history of this piece.

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#13

Rainy Day In Pittsburgh, By John Vachon, June 1941

Rainy Day In Pittsburgh, By John Vachon, June 1941

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Hannah Edwards
Community Member
2 months ago

This could be a Hopper painting.

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Sébastien gives advice to people who want to colorize pictures as well: "My advice would be to observe the reality, the light, the reflections, the effects and interaction of the colors in the real life to collect old color photos from the past and use them as references, but also open your eyes to the painters that have already done this work and transposed it in their paintings."

#14

Along The California Highway Us99, 1937. By Dorothea Lange

Along The California Highway Us99, 1937. By Dorothea Lange

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Robert T
Community Member
2 months ago

Intrigued as to what the metal band is between them. You can see the tyre and innertube and the wheel rim is still on the car behind them. I run innertubes on wire wheels on my classic (which is probably 30-40 years younger than this) and the tyre goes straight on the rim.

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#15

Saturday Afternoon In Florence, Alabama, June 1942. By Arthur Rothstein

Saturday Afternoon In Florence, Alabama, June 1942. By Arthur Rothstein

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Isabela Ivan
Community Member
2 months ago

Oh the green car...🥰

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Sébastien shares what he looks for in a photo before deciding what to colorize: "I look for a story to tell, like a moment of a movie, and also a good composition, but also a good definition because the better the definition is, the more beautiful the colorization will be."

#16

Bar At Central Park In New York By Marjory Collins, 1942

Bar At Central Park In New York By Marjory Collins, 1942

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Dandelion Patch
Community Member
2 months ago

Puppy!

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#17

Anonymous, France, 1967

Anonymous, France, 1967

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Haru Brujis
Community Member
2 months ago

Fishy

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The artist tells us more about himself: "I come from the French countryside near Chartres, completed art studies in Orléans, I moved to Milan and lived there for 7 years. I found my future wife there and we moved to Paris. I now have two daughters. I worked as an illustrator for architects, assistant of a fashion illustrator and now as a photo retoucher. I would be pleased if I could do colorization as my main activity!"

#18

O’reilly Bar, New York, By Marjory Collins. 1942

O’reilly Bar, New York, By Marjory Collins. 1942

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LucyLuLuu
Community Member
2 months ago

Her arms say *I'm freaking out who is this guy?*

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#19

Washington In 1935

Washington In 1935

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Jennifer Hargett
Community Member
2 months ago

OK, so I see here that D.C. traffic has always been insanely congested.

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"I worked recently for a Vuitton Book 'Extraordinaries voyages' where 20 colorizations were published and for Oppo and Getty Images for collaboration with Wimbledon, where 9 images were produced. I have done already 4 different exhibitions, the most important was in Dunkirk where 40 colorizations were shown. The project was colorizing images from a woman photographer called Adeline Debaene-Kiscoms who photographed her city Dunkirk and the habitats during the German occupation of WW2."

#20

Marilyn Monroe Resting On The Set Of The Misfits, By Eve Arnold, 1960

Marilyn Monroe Resting On The Set Of The Misfits, By Eve Arnold, 1960

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Isabela Ivan
Community Member
2 months ago

Norma Jean

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#21

Young Actresses Having A Sun Bath For A Film Promotion During The Cannes Film Festival, 1955

Young Actresses Having A Sun Bath For A Film Promotion During The Cannes Film Festival, 1955

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Marie Peckham
Community Member
2 months ago

I like the coloured version, and the way the posters come to life because of that use of colour. Grace Kelly is in the poster on the left, wonder if she posed with all these sun bathing girls?

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#22

American Soldier Return Home After Worldwar 1, 1919

American Soldier Return Home After Worldwar 1, 1919

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Csaba Hegedűs
Community Member
2 months ago

When you come home from war after three years to see your one year old daughter :P

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#23

Spectators At A Race In Worthington, Maryland, By Marion Post Wolcott. 1941

Spectators At A Race In Worthington, Maryland, By Marion Post Wolcott. 1941

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Marie Peckham
Community Member
2 months ago

I like the colour version. Loving this crowd photograph and the colour makes it live!

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#24

Family Picnic Along The Cane River Near Natchitoches, Louisiana, By Marion Post Wolcott, 4th July 1940

Family Picnic Along The Cane River Near Natchitoches, Louisiana, By Marion Post Wolcott, 4th July 1940

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Happy_Pandalover
Community Member
2 months ago

this could be from today as well 😊

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#25

Bergman, Hemphrey Bogart And Michael Curtis On The Set Of "Casablanca" 1939

Bergman, Hemphrey Bogart And Michael Curtis On The Set Of "Casablanca" 1939

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Marie Peckham
Community Member
2 months ago

I love this film, and I prefer the black and white photograph.

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#26

Union Station, Chicago By Jack Delano, 1943

Union Station, Chicago By Jack Delano, 1943

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Marie Peckham
Community Member
2 months ago

I thinks I like the drama in the black and white photograph.

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#27

Texas, 1939

Texas, 1939

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Robert T
Community Member
2 months ago

Loitering with intent?

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#28

Glen Echo Park, Montgomery County, Maryland, April 1943

Glen Echo Park, Montgomery County, Maryland, April 1943

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Mongoose Jones
Community Member
2 months ago

Anyone in a military uniform at that time was "cool"

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#29

Waiting For The Bus, 1943

Waiting For The Bus, 1943

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Peter Bear
Community Member
2 months ago

Serious Norman Rockwell vibes from this one.

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#30

French Soldiers On Leave In Paris, Gare de l’Est, 1916

French Soldiers On Leave In Paris, Gare de l’Est, 1916

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Marie Peckham
Community Member
2 months ago

Somehow the coloured version of this photo is more real. They all look exhausted poor guys.

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Note: this post originally had 50 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.