What is Photo Restoration?
In straightforward terms, photo restoration is the process of transforming old and new photos back into their original condition.
If you have old photos that are fading, wrinkled, cracking, creased, or torn, even those with pieces missing and you want them to look like new again, a photo restoration company (like us) is the place you would call to do the job.
For ages, man has been recording history. Yet, only during the past 150 years has history been documented photographically. Keeping images of the past creates a bridge of memories for the future. Photographs give a graphic depiction of years gone-by; however, if these photographs are not preserved properly, that history will fade never to be viewed again. Thankfully, photos can be restored to their previous glory using photo restoration techniques. The application of photo restoration practices is not just for private individuals. Museums and genealogists frequently employ photo restoration and conservation services as well.
Digital Restorations – A Safer Alternative
Not too long ago, getting a photo restored meant taking a risk with your original photo since all the restoration was done on the actual photograph itself.
Today, getting an old photograph restored is a comparatively easy and simple process. Digital photo restoration services have eliminated all the risk and hassle from getting a photograph restored. Gone are the days of bubble wrapping precious one of a kind photos and mailing them to unknown places – often across state lines. Since it eliminates all risk for both you and the person restoring the photo. These days, almost all photo restorers will work exclusively on a digital copy of your photo. This way you can keep the original in your possession. And the restoration expert can work on an identical copy of your photograph.
However, restoring an old photo sometimes includes more than utilizing savvy computer software. If parts of a photo are damaged, construing how the original photo once looked involves the hands of a skilled artist.
Restoring a photo can balance a photograph that was taken in the wrong lighting, or correct the dreadful “red eye.” However, nearly every computer today has digital photo restoration software. Even amateurs can have a go at it. Nonetheless, a professional photo restoration service operates within a completely different spectrum. They take the worse possible photos that have been abused and misplaced for years and turn them into something decent.
Manual Photo Restoration
Manual photo restoration takes more than a passing knowledge of how to manipulate Adobe or Photoshop software. Now and then, a very old photograph has a sentimental value and requires more than a few clicks of a computer mouse. This demands the skill of a restoration expert with trained hands. In fact, many established art galleries hire photo restoration experts to restore antique photographs and tintypes.
Restoring old photographs by hand is a meticulous process. Firstly, the photo restoration artist will cautiously clean the photo and mend any torn parts. To decrease the look of cracks and creases, the paper may be pressed for a period of time. The damaged parts are then retouched with the hand of a skilled artisan, focusing especially on the color and lighting of the original photograph. The amount of improvement depends on the extent of the damage. However, this manual technique is used on the old photo itself and not a digital copy.
Photo Enhancement vs. Photo Restoration
Enhancement photos are touched-up lightly to make them look better. Photo restoration takes a photo and changes it back to its original state regardless of the condition of the photo in most instances.
What Type of Photographs can be Restored?
Most photos can be restored. Cracks, rips, discoloring and tears can all be erased through the services of a professional restoration service. In fact, you can have fun when having your photos restored as well! Do you have an old photo with someone you would rather have removed? How about a change of background? Want to add a beautiful rainbow or the rippling effect of the sea? You can add a much-loved pet or convert black and white to sepia or color. There are tons of cosmetic changes that can be achieved via photo restoration. If it is in the picture, something can be done with it. And if it isn’t there, it can be created.
Sending An Original Photo for Restoration
If you find yourself in a situation where you have to send your original photograph, use foamcore or cardboard to avoid damage, and write the words in capital letters “FRAGILE PHOTOS-DO NOT BEND” on the envelope. Hopefully they will treat them better than the airlines treat traveler’s luggage!
Specially designed mailing envelopes can be purchased at most paper supply stores or the United States Postal Service. They are especially made to protect photographs. Be sure to purchase the proper size envelope, and request delivery confirmation for your photographs, you may want to insure them to be extra safe.
Companies like Kinkos or FedEx will also scan your photograph onto a CD/DVD. A scan of at minimum 300 dpi is suggested along with the size you want the restored print to be such as 4×6 or 8×10 and so on. Save it is a j-peg or JPG file type. The file can be emailed or the CD/DVD can be sent, which will be returned once your restored photo is completed.
Is Photo Restoration Unethical?
There are a number of genealogists and historians who feel that “any” modification to an original photo is unethical, even if the modification is to repair damage caused by the elements, neglect, or time. Such traditionalist suppose that any damage to an original photograph is part of it’s history, the story of it’s birth and possible death, much like real life itself. They feel that the “character” of photos should be preserved and that photographs should be allowed to “grow old gracefully,” by avoiding the pitfalls of restoration much like someone avoiding the risks of cosmetic surgery. In addition, traditionalists question the judgment or skill of the restorer to truly restore the photograph to its original form in any capacity, as opposed to erroneously altering some part of the photograph that was historically significant.
On the other hand, there are some genealogists and historians who support the art of photo restoration. At the center of their backing is a wish to revere their ancestors by restoring their photographs to a perfect, undamaged, perfectly hued state and sharing these restored photos with family and friends. Solidifying their belief are the labors of art conservationists who have conscientiously restored the works of masters such as Raphael, Leonardo Da Vinchi, and Michelangelo. Perhaps a nostalgic family member or history scholar would argue that even the Sistine Chapel was restored to all of its pristine glory for the benefit and gratification of future generations, should one’s family photos be any less revered?
In the scheme of things, photo restoration is here to stay. It’s purpose is to restore happiness and genuine fondness of one’s past, and to bestow inspiration to carry on with the future.