How Colouring-In can give you a New Perspective on History

This photo taken in Louisville, Kentucky in 1937 is arguably one of the most potent of all historical photographs. Yet with new technologies that can colour this photograph, we ironically give it a fresh interpretation  by transporting ourselves back to the day it was taken.

It becomes increasingly clear why it was taken too, for not only does the billboard’s message juxtapose these peoples’ position, but the bold colours also appear to condescend them.


The addition of colour reminds us of the potential over-exaggeration and bias of propaganda; the technicoloured saturation of the poster is a colour scheme impossible to achieve by the everyday. The citizens, queuing for supplies following the Great Ohio River Flood, appear to be the unfortunate reality to this superficial ideal.  All of this, whilst made timeless, is lost in the greyscale print.

History is made almost tangible through ‘colouring in’, reminding us not only of key events in our time but also the advances of our technology which enable us to find parallels between the situation which inspired the photographer to shoot this photograph and the society which now admire it. Still, the notion of ideals is questioned and we sometimes become so fixed on them that we become indifferent to reality. A satirical shot like this can help to change this.

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