A Coloured Past

We’re so used to seeing vintage photography in greyscale or sepia tones, that it’s sometimes quite surprising to see genuine photographs of the past that portray history in colour. Here are some of my favourites that I’ve found – most of which were taken before I was even conceived!

These images of circuses during the between the 1940s and 1950s were taken from Taschen’s  ‘The Circus Book: 1870-1950‘, which features the work of distinguished photographers such as Edward Kelty, Mathew Brady, Cornell Capa, Charles and Ray Eames, and even Stanley Kubrick.

Mindblowing shots of central London in 1961, by amateur (yes, really) photographer Charles W. Cushman. An alumnus of Indiana University, Cushman gave around 14,500 colour slides to his alma mater. The university has now archived these slides, and created a fully searchable database of his vintage colour photography.

These photographs show an amusement arcade from 1968 in Kansas City, Missouri. I guess they really loved their bunting, and the word ‘fun’, as both have been used liberally. All images are courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

Although colour photography from the 1980s isn’t much of a big deal, I just had to include these amazing snaps of NYC by Steven Siegel. They have that same vintage feel to them, but their content is a bit more grittier than the cutesy amusement arcades and circuses of the previous decades.

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