Nude imagery that has been created well before our times becomes a part of a social history, not just a piece of quick entertainment. But, what happens when the said part of history is slowly beginning to fade away due to the deterioration of colors on the slides it was shot on?
John DeFeo, who is a photographer, a vice president of a marketing agency, and a former economics columnist all rolled into one became interested in preserving the beauty of original 1950s pinup photos after buying a small collection of them. DeFeo describes in his blog post how pinup style photographs had to go through a difficult route to even end up in his hands today.
When Eastman Kodak company introduced color film in 1935, which was also made available for non-professional photographers, obscenity laws were still in place which in return made it too risky for anyone to send nude images to a print lab. However, few years later develop-at-home color films were released, allowing photographers to forego the risk and develop their nude photographs at the comfort of their own home. Unfortunately, what they didn't know at the time was that the colors would fade over the years.
For that reason, DeFeo took upon himself to begin a two year long personal project to restore his collection of faded photographs with the help of modern technology. He notes the process was not necessarily difficult, but rather tedious and time consuming. Each 35mm slide underwent the following process:
- Blasted with compressed air to remove dust;
- Cured with a non-abrasive chemical treatment (Vitafilm);
- Scanned at 5,400 dpi (approximately 42 megapixels);
- Retouched of stray hairs, dirt, water stains, holes, and scratches;
- Restored to original color.
DeFeo concludes his project with a somber wish for us to be more cautious and not lose such a significant part of our art history, which is yet to receive the recognition it deserves in shaping today's photography, especially that of a female form. You can view the full collection of restored photographs on DeFeo's blog post.
All images used with permission of John W. DeFeo.