We may read about it in books, but history feels like a distant world, and it’s only when figures are enlivened with detail that they become real.
Adam “A.B.” Cannon, an artist who’s been revitalizing historical photos for almost a decade, envisions people of the past as if they were in the same room as their modern-day observer. And while there are now all kinds of amazing tools that promise to do the job quickly, that personal touch is often lost in the process. Cannon’s restorations are done 100% manually, faithfully preserving details to tell a story.
His latest work is an interpretation of a black-and-white tintype of a young Black woman in a striped dress, dated back to the late 1860s. The subject, who is photographed with her hair in an updo, is accessorized in a black scarf pinned with a brooch, along with drop earrings and rings on her right hand. The woman’s identity is unknown.
Cannon brought her image back to life by accentuating her facial features and colorizing the tintype, imagining the woman’s dress to be green and white. Her restored gaze and curly hair make her feel less like a stranger. Her eyes tell a story, and you’d wish you could hear more about it.
Previous restorations shared by Cannon include a 160-year-old portrait of an elderly couple, a tintype of Confederate soldier John Pelham who died in a cavalry engagement, and photos of Union soldiers.