Photograph restoration using digital techniques

Do you have an old photograph in need of restoration? Bends, tears, fading, and other damage to photos inflicted by time can mean lost memories, or lead to new things being discovered about the past. Seeing a fully restored old photo is an exciting moment, and restoring old photos, from a personal point of view, is a partly archaeological process.

I have worked with image processing since 1994, and have learned through the years how to breathe life back into old and damaged photographs. Here is an example of a family portrait from 1859, before and after digital restoration.

Before restoration
Before restoration
After restoration
After restoration

Look and feel of the restored photo

With this example, I have chosen not to give the photo a ‘clinical’ feel. I haven’t cropped it, keeping the top of the photographer’s curtain in view and shape of the photo itself. All original elements of the photo are in place; I have focussed on removing blotches, creases and stains from the main part of the image. I wanted the photo to still look like it was from 1859 but for the people and their clothes to be clear and detailed.

It is possible to go all the way and even hand-tint photos to breathe colour into them, and give them a more modern twist. The choice is yours.

Cost of photograph restoration

The cost of each restoration will vary, depending upon the amount of work that needs to be done, but to give an indication, the above photo would have cost £80 to restore, with a digital file being sent back to the owner for printing at their preferred size.

Getting the photos to me

If the photograph is robust enough to be scanned, then I can accept digital files to work with. Ideally I require photos to be scanned at a resolution of 1200dpi to see fine detail, but I can work with less. However, if your photograph is too fragile, or if laying it flat will damage it further, please do not try to scan it, and get in touch to see what can be done. I can work with a number of different techniques to capture the original photo to work with. It is extremely important that the original photo is looked after and further preserved, alongside its digital counterpart.

For photos with surface damage, sometime scanning is not appropriate not just for conservation reasons, but the strong directional light from a scanner can give bad results. In these cases it is better to take a photo of the photograph under diffuse light – either daylight or using a special lighting setup. I can advise upon this, or make arrangements to undertake this myself.

Please contact me if you would like a quote for my photograph restoration services or advice.

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