top of page
IMG_5196 hand painting.webp

The Art of Hand Painting Photographs


Copy of Marlborough.webp

In 1839 a Swiss painter named John Bastist Isenring, acquired a camera and then amazingly went on to hand-paint a black and white landscape photograph using a mixture of Arabic gum and colour pigments into an incredible piece of art. In doing so, he became the first artist to exhibit hand-painted art photography. Sixty years later, as Kodak started to commercialise photography, popularity arose with photographers adding colour to black and white prints. The honeymoon lasted for about thirty years until colour film made its debut in the mid-1930s. The world became obsessed with colour photography, and there was no longer a need to hand colour black and white photographs anymore. Entering the 1970s, once the world had overcome its fix on colour photography, we saw a resurgence of hand-painting prints, a technique embraced by artists like Jan Saudek and Robert Rauschenberg, to name a few. A niche group of enthused artists embracing photography as a craft to reveal art. A revival, if you like, an era that can be described as photography's equivalent to the return to vinyl in music. In the early 1990s, Photoshop was the axe to fall on hand painting revival, brilliant software that was a forerunner to the mass popularity of digital photography; this was the final blow to not only film but the practice of hand embellishing photography.

The great news is that today, using inkjet printing, watercolours, acrylics, & pastels, I will show you a simple and equally exciting technique to create stunning art prints, all in the tradition of hand-painting photography.


A warm welcome to today's class; I am confident you will enjoy this technique very much. Before diving into the workshop, I would like to go over a few points.


  • Firstly, if you have not done so, I recommend watching "What is fine art photography". Here I deal with this challenging topic and give more background into my understanding of the subject and an insight into the DNA behind my philosophy.

  • Secondly, I recommend you download the presentation slides, which will assist you in taking notes. You will find the download link for the video I mentioned and the presentation notes below.

  • Thirdly, after the lesson, you will be able to practice with some photographs from our library. The files have been prepared and are ready for hand painting. You are welcome to download them, and you can get started right away. The only proviso is that you cannot use these photographs in your portfolio or for commercial gain; they are copyrighted and are merely there for practising.

  • Before we start, my last bit of advice is that you cannot rush art. To get the best out of this lesson, you need to follow it step by step and, most importantly, take your time. With each class, you will learn a technique and consider it simply a craft; once you practice it enough, you should be able to find your style and create unique personalised art pieces. The trick is practice, followed by practice, followed by, you guessed it, even more practice. Enough said, now let's get on with the lesson. 


Remember is just one of many techniques I teach to help create photographic art. These techniques can be used as stand-alone or in combination with one another.

You will see later that your camera should be considered another tool on the workbench of art; whether it is used at the beginning or end of a process or, for that matter, numerous times along the way does not matter. 

Enjoy the experience. 





Watch this video which offers an insight into the world of art and fine art photography where Martin Osner also discussed shares his philosophy on the subject.



I trust you are super excited to get started with today's workshop. In this tutorial, we are going to look at the equipment and supplies you are going to need to hand paint and embellish your photographs successfully.


It will help if you have your presentation slides printed to take notes during the class and remember this is the first of four tutorials that complete the entire workshop. After this video, I'd like to look at the history of the technique. Then in part three, I want to show you the method itself. Then I'd like to look at pressure points that can go wrong along the way, and then in part five, I want to look at examples and a student showcase of before and afters.


Start by setting up a workspace for yourself with as much available light as possible, or install a bright daylight correct light source in the room.


Suggest Equipment​

  • Camera

  • Art Easel

  • Additional light source/s to re-photograph your artwork once it's complete. Two flexible study lamps are recommended.

  • Photo inkjet printer A3 size is perfect, or an A4 (or letter size) printer.

  • A baseboard (compressed cardboard, super wood, plywood) or a cutting board). 

  • Masking tape.

  • Uncoated watercolour paper (Not too textured) and/or High-quality inkjet archival paper. (Make sure the grammage is not heavier than what the printer can print).

  • Watercolour paint tablet.

  • Set of acrylic paint or individual acrylic tubes.

  • Watercolour pencils.

  • Chalk pastels.

  • Small brush set.

  • Cotton wool and earbuds.

  • Palette knife (Optional).

  • Art fixative or varnish (Matt finish recommended).

  • Adobe Creative Cloud with Adobe Bridge and Photoshop applications loaded, or Lightroom with Photoshop. Note any photo editing program will suffice.


Gather all the equipment, supplies and software together and then join me in the next video, where we'll look into the fantastic history of this medium and dive into the DNA of hand painting and embellishing photographs

Copy of Marlborough (4) (1).webp




Original Colour Photograph

Download B&W

download icon.png

Original Colour Photograph

Download B&W

download icon.png

Original Colour Photograph

Download B&W

download icon.png

Original Colour Photograph

Download B&W

download icon.png
bottom of page