What is photo restoration and why do it?

What is photo restoration and why do it?

You may ask, what is photo restoration, and how does that apply to me?  Many people have in their possession, vintage, antique or otherwise old family pictures. Some of these have been passed down over a couple of generations.  All family photos are irreplaceable, whether they are vintage or modern.  Steps should be taken to preserve these heirlooms and historical records.

The scope of this blog post today isn’t about preserving  modern and digital formats of those images, but rather focusing on images that may be 20 years or older.

What is Photo Restoration?

Depending on the condition of the original photo, the factors involved in photo restoration can vary.  One facet of the process is getting a physical vintage picture scanned into a digital format.  By having a digital version restored, the original is left intact.

This  also provides the benefit of being easily shared with friends and family.  Some families have had fights over who gets which picture; this eliminates that struggle and ensure everyone can have a copy who wants one.

Aging causes much of the damage seen in vintage family pictures.  Even though that adds to the ambiance of the era, if too much aging occurs, images can get past the point of being able to be successfully restored.  Lost forever, something irreplaceable.  This should be avoided at all costs!

USA WRIGHT BROTHERS VINTAGE POSTCARD - CIRCA 1900 - What Is Photo Restoration

What is Photo Restoration for a Vintage Picture?

Some of the issues that are restored in vintage pictures are:

Faded colors, eliminating the washed out, overall fading of the entire vintage picture.  This includes pictures that are in black and white, they fade too.

Funky colors corrected. Aging typically produces a yellowing effect, which can cause strange coloring to occur. For example, if the retro picture has a blue sky, if yellowing happens, you get a green sky.

In photo restoration cleaning up of spills, dirt, scratches, sensor dust on the camera is usually done. These imperfections will be eliminated resulting in a clearer picture.

Other items done in photo restoration is compensating for poor lighting.  This is seen many times by some areas overly dark, or overly light.  The picture may be sharpened some.

A more pleasing composition may be applied.  Resizing might also be accomplished.  This would allow a person to have prints made in larger sizes than the original photo was. There will be limitations of how big the final image can be made successfully, but this usually provides adequate options.

Some people may want a colorized image converted to a black and white, sepia, or vice versa. To colorize a black and white picture, will add to the cost quite a bit, in most cases.

Photo restoration services (this is my site of the services I personally provide) vary in what they charge, and the options they provide. A main factor of what you’ll have to pay begins with the condition of the photo itself. The more damaged, the more costly it will be to restore.  This is another reason to get your photos restored sooner, rather than later. The end result will be better as well.

Beyond heirloom family photos, some people have some of the following types of pictures that would be good to consider having restored:

  • Old military photos
  • Civil war images
  • A childhood pet
  • Vintage airplanes or trains, or any other special interest
  • Your hometown many years ago
  • Your school when it was originally built
  • Types of pictures that might be found in a museum that you have

Vintage military picture - What Is Photo Restoration

Some people are concerned that restoring a vintage picture will alter it so much that it will look new. Another concern is that it would cause the picture to be beyond recognition of the original photo. Rest assured, a properly restored antique photo will still look old, you won’t lose the ambiance.  It will be clearer to enjoy, and preserved for many years of enjoyment.

What to Do with the Restored Antique Photo?

After you have had your antique image restored, what to you plan to do with it?

There are more options that just getting a 5X7 print at your favorite photo lab, or printing it yourself off your printer and home computer.

You may want to have it printed on fine art paper using a special method called Giclee. This is special way that ink is applied to the fine art paper, for a more upscale look.

Similarly, you could have it printed on canvas, stretched over a wood frame, and either framed, or hung as the canvas.  This option gives a ‘modern twist’ of a vintage look. There are many excellent online resources available. My personal favorite is Canvas 4 Life, which I’ve used many times.  Reasonable prices, and the canvas arrives ready to hang.  Beware, many places, ship the printed canvas and the sticks, but you have to assemble it yourself. Not fun!

old-family-photos - What Is Photo Restoration

Framing and matting gives many options in variable price ranges.  How the picture is finished is a huge factor to the overall look.

Getting a vintage family picture restored also makes excellent gifts, for any occasion. Especially for people who can be very difficult to shop for, or who already have everything.

Consider your local museum as well. They may find your picture to be a valuable addition to display in their establishment.  Your entire community might be enriched to see some history from your perspective.

You might enjoy my post – Make a Family Heirloom Cookbook.

One of my favorite stories of vintage photos I have restored for someone was for someone who’s entire family only had 1 picture of the mom, no longer living. All other photos had been destroyed in a fire years ago.   This only picture was about the size of a postage stamp.  She was able to get a 5×7 picture from it, completely restored.  She cried when I gave her the finished result.  Of course, that made me cry too, but it did my heart good to do this project for this wonderful family.  Each picture has a precious story.  A story worth being remembered.

Until next time,

Valerie Garner

Highly recommended book so you don’t lose your family pictures (click on picture for more info)

Preserve Your Family Pictures - how to save photo heirlooms for future generations. - What Is Photo Restoration

What Is Photo Restoration

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