Colorized black and white photo of Ellis Island Immigrants

This photo of immigrant children & their families comes from the National Archives and was taken at Ellis Island, New York in 1908 by the Brown brothers. From 1892 until its doors closed in 1954, millions of immigrants passed through Ellis Island in search of a better life.

The faces of the children in this photo seem to speak a great deal about the emotions they must have felt arriving in America at that time. Forlorn and somber yet eager and optimistic, each face seems like it could be a separate portrait. My descendants are from Ireland and also passed through Ellis Island when arriving in America around the same time period, so this also gave the photo some personal appeal to me.

The restoration of the photo was not incredibly time consuming but still tedious. Adding the color to the photo didn’t take as long as I expected, but working with the faces and getting the flesh-tones just right was not an easy task. I estimate this photo took about 7 to 8 total work hours to complete. Overall, I am extremely pleased with how this photo turned out.

Below is the original black and white photo as well as my restored and colorized version. Please leave your comments or questions below.

Black and white photo of Ellis Island ImmigrantsColorized black and white photo of Ellis Island Immigrants

All photo colorization found within Metacolor is completed by hand using a Wacom Graphic Tablet and Adobe Photoshop CC software. All website design, writing and photo colorization/restoration found within is the sole work of Wayne Degan.


  1. Joel Hoffschneider
    Joel HoffschneiderReply
    September 1, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    Is there yet a wider version of this picture?
    I am using this as a focus piece for my 8th grade composition class and they raised the question.
    Joel Hoffschneider
    Fort Wayne Indiana

    • MetaColor
      September 13, 2016 at 1:17 pm

      This is the widest version of the photo that I have been able to locate.

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