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Local photographer colorizes iconic mugshots of celebrities

Jason Baker has colored black and white celebrity crime photos, including this picture taken when Al Pacino was arrested in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, in January 1961.Jason Baker

A Malden-based photographer has colored a selection of mug shots of celebrities that have gone viral online.

Jason Baker, 40, a photographer known for his work documenting abandoned buildings, recently posted his craft on the Bored Panda website and received over 50,000 views. His colored collection of booking photos has since attracted widespread attention and has been featured by The Daily Mail in the UK and design magazine DeMilked.

Baker said he was “happy to breathe new life into those mug shots and celebrities” and “very happy that people are enjoying them”.

“I was actually very surprised that it went viral,” said Baker.

It all started with the now iconic black and white picture of David Bowie, captured in March 1976 after Bowie was arrested in a Rochester NY hotel room on marijuana charges. The booking photo resulting from the incident was later dubbed “the coolest mug shot ever” by some.

Baker decided to put his own accents and turn the black and white image into full, vivid color.

A 1976 mug shot of David Bowie colored by Jason Baker.A 1976 mug shot of David Bowie colored by Jason Baker.Jason Baker

“The idea was fun because one day I got bored and wanted to do something different,” said Baker. “I love celebrities, and then one of my favorite black and white photos of celebrities was David Bowie … I wanted to see what it would look like when I colored and restored it. Then I was kind of addicted to making more and more of the celebrities. “

Baker has played a role in coloring law enforcement photos of all kinds of celebrities, from singers and musicians (Jimi Hendrix, Frank Sinatra) to civil rights activists (Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks) to actors and actresses (Jane Fonda, Al Pacino).

He even colored in a mug shot from 1959 of James “Whitey” Bulger, taken while Bulger was staying at Alcatraz.

A mug shot of Rosa Parks from 1955. A mug shot of Rosa Parks from 1955. Jason Baker

Each can take anywhere from 30 minutes to “many hours,” he said.

“I’m new to this process so I try to get the best results possible,” he said.

“The hardest part of coloring is getting everything as perfect as possible,” said Baker. “Again, I’m new to this field – so I still have a long way to go – but I’m happy with the results I’ve achieved when I started my new journey into another form of photography.”

Jane Fonda in a photo from 1970.Jane Fonda in a photo from 1970.Jason BakerA 1959 mug shot of James A 1959 mug shot of James “Whitey” Bulger, taken while Bulger was staying at Alcatraz, colored by Jason Baker.Jason BakerA 1975 photo of Patty Hearst. A 1975 photo of Patty Hearst. Jason BakerBoston-based photographer Jason Baker has colored old mug shots of celebrities.Boston-based photographer Jason Baker has colored old mug shots of celebrities.Jason Baker

Emily Sweeney can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.

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