How-to Guide: Restoring Old Photos

Photo Film Among the most treasured items for every family are the old photos that help us recall the past.  They help us revive stories of past summers, family histories, laughter, sadness and so much more. These photos are important because they are all a part of our story and who we are today.  Many of those treasured photos have stood the test of time, but all photographs eventually show their age after years of handling, and some are damaged beyond what we think can be repaired. Thankfully, there are tools and methods that can help restore most, if not all of your most treasured pictures.

Electronic

This method is the most common, and you may have luck finding someone help you restore with this method. Reach out to your family members to see if anyone has experience using programs such as Photoshop, you may be surprised to discover a relative that has photo editing abilities!
  • Pros: Photographs are uploaded onto a computer, so you get an enhanced digital copy that may be replicated as many times as you’d like.
  • Cons: Professional electronic restoration requires sophisticated software, so the service can be expensive. DIY software is less precise, but more cost-effective.

Chemical

You may not have a family member that specializes in this method, but if you have an original photograph, chemical restoration may be a good option for you! A professional can bleach and redevelop the photograph to enhance clarity.
  • Pros: This method enhances the original photograph rather than creating a new picture, which may be preferable to those wanting to keep the original photo for sentimental value.
  • Cons: Chemical restoration is an exact science, so only photographic conservators can safely redevelop your original. This process is irreversible, so be careful!

Copying

This is an inexpensive and effective method that utilizes a copy of your original, rather than manipulating the original itself. Since you will always have the original, you don’t have to worry about ruining your relatives prized snapshot.
  • Pros: This method is both affordable and practical. You’ll have a spare, enhanced copy of the original photograph in case the original is ever lost. Plus, you can do everything from boosting colors to lightening stains.
  • Cons: This may not be an effective method for very old, delicate photographs due to their stability.

Airbrush

The airbrush technique requires a keen eye and a steady hand, but the results can be breathtaking. While other methods are more tech-savvy, airbrushing is the most artistic.
  • Pros: Airbrushing is done on a copy of the original, so you won’t harm the original. The artist can fix cracks, darkened areas, stains, and more by hand.
  • Cons: This service is typically around 50 to 250 dollars, and too much airbrushing may change the character of your photograph.

Have the Talk of a Lifetime with Your Loved Ones

Restoring old photos is a way to preserve the past and memories of your loved ones for years to come. Gathering and sharing old photographs and the stories that go with them is a great way to Have the Talk of a Lifetime with those you hold dear.

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