Photographer Turns Forgotten Photos Into Surreal Hallucinations

by Beth Buczynski

Photographer Jane Long does more than just bring vintage photos to life — she gives them a new, slightly trippy, backstory.

“In my mind they became characters in tales of my own invention,” Long explains.

Most of the vintage photos come from the Costică Acsinte Archive on Flickr.

Her retouched photos are full of something more than just color: they have surreal, even dreamlike elements that paint a picture of who these people might have been.

“It takes anywhere between 10 and 40 hours [to completely retouch a photo] depending on how complex it is and how many elements are involved,” Long told Distractify in an email.

“I wanted there to be some ambiguity about the images, what is real and what is not real?” she said. “Are these light characters or dark? Restoring the images is only part of the process, the rest is the dance.”

When we asked Long how she decided which images to restore, she said it wasn’t easy.

“Sometimes it just jumps out at me, like the acrobats in ‘The Juggling Act.’ I knew as soon as I saw her that I wanted her to be a woman on a tightrope juggling life!”

“Other times it happens more organically, like ‘Innocence’ (featured above). I knew I wanted her to have a jumping goldfish as a friend but the fire ring came later…maybe she’s a nice little girl, but then maybe she’s not! Often I look for elements that will create interaction between the subject and the environment.”

When we asked Long how she might like a picture of herself recreated, she didn’t hesitate: “Definitely underwater! I don’t know why I have such an obsession with this at the moment! I think because it’s somewhere quiet where things just float around, it strikes me as peaceful even though I know it’s not in reality.”

When not turning old photographs into modern dreams, Long likes to read and take long drives. “Some of my best ideas come from thoughts on long drives, and of course there’s always stock images to shoot on the way!” she told us.

Learn more about Jane Long at and see more of the Dancing with Costică series on her Facebook page.


Thanks to Distractify for this article

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