HOW TO GET PHOTOS REPAIRED!
Updated: Feb 4
How many of us have a box in the closet full of old family photos? I know I do! They could be old polaroids, old family photos or photos passed down through generations. So why do we keep them? The answer is simple, we know that photos are such important story tellers. They capture priceless memories and can take you right back in time to remember something special in your past, they can also help to shape your families' history and preserve that history forever.
When you open that box and look at these photos, you might see creases, fading, scratches, stains, tears, discoloring, etc. and because of those issues, you may just assume they are ruined. There is good news! Those memories do not have to be boxed up and more than likely, most of those photos can be brought back to life digitally. No matter how bad the photo looks, never assume they are ruined forever until you know for sure! Photo repair, restoration or colorization might be just what you need. The image below is a perfect example
A few years ago, my father in law approached me with this image which he had inside an old envelope. His wife, is in the photo which was taken in the 1950's or early 60's during a Luau in Hawaii. Due to the condition of the photo, his wife suggested they just throw it away, but he knew this was a special photo and he held onto it, this was a wise decision! After showing me the photo, he asked me if this photo could be repaired. He said he wanted to at least ask before throwing it away because if it could be fixed, he wanted to surprise his wife with it. This was a very challenging task, but I knew how special it was and I wanted to give it my best effort. This project could not be rushed and it required meticulous effort. In the end, his decision to hold onto it, preserved that photo to be passed down. Sadly both of them passed away recently, but now, this photo, which almost disappeared from existence, remains in the family. That is priceless!
What are your options?
So you decided you want to restore an old photo...now what? You will likely have a few questions. How do you repair damaged photos? Can I do it myself? Is there an app? Is there a simple program? is there a special scanner that pieces it all back together? Can you just hit a photoshop button to fix it? Well, with the constant advances in technology, those things may be possible one day. Photoshop can do some amazing things with a few clicks, but photo repair can be very complex and difficult. Many times I have had to re-create faces, clothing patterns or parts of an image that were completely missing. There is no button for that.
As for your options? There is no easy answer because every photo has different issues. If you have a solid understanding of photoshop, or other retouch programs, then yes, you might be able to fix them yourself or at least some minimally damaged images. But there is usually a cost, is it worth it to purchase one or more programs, pay the fees, try to figure them out and if you do, maybe only use them once or twice? That is up to you, but trust me, trying to figure these programs out can be a real test of patience. As you make that decision, keep in mind that many programs are designed to add filters, enhance clarity, resize, remove backgrounds etc. with minimal workflow, but nothing I am aware of will just piece a torn photo back together, colorize it, remove stains, fix borders and remove scratches all with the push of a button. Photo repair takes a lot of patience, attention to detail, a solid knowledge of your software, and quite a bit of skill.
In the photo below for example, you can see that many layers as well as layer masks were created throughout the photo repair process. There were actually several challenges in repairing this image which had to be addressed one by one. It might be that you just want someone or something removed or. replaced in an image. That can present an entirely different set of challenges depending on the image, background etc. especially when you want someone added to the photo. Each challenge requires a strong understanding of the software you use and the tools within that software.
What does it cost to repair a photo?
A question that comes up often is why photo repair can be so expensive. Like with photography, many people do not understand the amount of time, work and knowledge, not to mention expense that goes into learning these crafts. That being said, having numerous photos repaired can add up quickly, I have seen quotes from companies starting at $250.00 just for one image regardless of how complex it is. Others charge you based off the size of the image. Prices will vary. I try to keep my prices affordable because I believe it is more important for people to have their photos repaired than choosing to let them fade away due to repair costs. Visit glanderos.com/photo-repair for more info.
I have had a few clients tell me they sent images to a large, well known company which touts photo repair, but when they got their photos back, they were very disappointed. In my opinion, some of these companies with a photo department do a basic "photo repair" and anything beyond that is a crap shoot. There is a big difference between touch up and repair. There are many options out there and some do amazing work. When I work on a photo, I put passion into every single image. I treat it as though it were my own. Depending on the repair, it can take hours and sometimes days to fix one image. I consider it a privilege to be able to help resurrect a special photo and I will take whatever time needed and I will never rush or take short cuts that jeopardize quality. I think that is the difference, if you care enough, you will work hard and the results will show.
If you have questions about a photo you are considering fixing or need photos repaired, please feel free to contact me and we can discuss your options. You can send me the image to look at and I will view it on a large monitor and give you an honest assessment.