New York based fashion photographer Shae DeTar has made a dazzling collection of work by hand painting black and white negatives, some of which date back to the early 1900s. Her style of painting is colorful and playful, adding a touch of eccentricity reminiscent of the 1960s. A few of the photographs feel like work inspired by Salvador Dalí, and one or two look very reminiscent of paintings by Henry Darger.
Starting out as a model, DeTar would do experimental visual work on the side. Eventually, praise for her early collage work led her further in the experimentation of painting photographs.
Hand-painting was popular prior to the release of color film, which did not happen until the mid-20th century with Kodak’s release of Kodachrome. Until that point, photo retouchers used dyes, oil, crayon, and/or watercolor paints to add life to black and white negatives. This process originally served an important purpose: to heighten the realism of the photograph and/or to illuminate an artistic aspect. In this case she fulfills both, by creating a warmth within the composition that seems to radiate. DeTar makes you feel like you could almost touch the image, while complementing and enhancing the shot. Her work draws the viewer into the foreground of the picture. Her use of off-coloring; pink skies, rainbow rocks, psychedelic mountains, make the images spark and pop, grabbing the viewers eye.
The marriage of old and new technology creates the illusion of an eternal epoch. A time that is not now and not then, and has an ethereal presence.