Restoring 1950s Pinup Photography Slides

Restoring 1950s Pinup Photography Slides

This article contains media that the editors have flagged as NSFW.

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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.

Anete Lusina's picture

Anete Lusina is a photographer based in West Yorkshire, UK. You'll either find her shooting weddings, documentary, or street photography across the U.K. and Europe, or perhaps doing the occasional conceptual shoot.

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NSFW, but apparently nipples are evil even for logged in people.

The nipples are hidden in the photos on his website. Fstoppers just posted what he provided.

I think he means, only the most uptight or family oriented workplaces would classify this as NSFW considering the level of censorship -the lines covering are essentially bikinis.

Uncensored photos link:

Originals of those girls don't look bad at all.
I restored 40 year old picture of my grandma that was torn in pieces and taped back.
Her hair was missing and few other parts of her body.
She was happy but most of you would see that I did not do really well.
I would like to see a post about that

He's blowing out a lot of highlight detail in some of those shots I think. Otherwise nice work.