Time is not always kind to old photos. There are a number of ways in which it can wreak havoc on them. Here are just a few of them:
Fading and color shifts: Color film of a certain vintage (circa 1936 and later) is mainly susceptible to this. This film was developed using a chromogenic process that relied on a number of chemicals and chemical reactions to create the final colors in the prints. But since these reactions were inherently unstable, the colors were prone to fading or degrading, especially when exposed to light. Typically there are two primary manifestations of this: fading or a loss of detail, particularly in the highlights. And a color shift in which the photo acquires a yellowish haze or greenish cast.
Scratches: Despite the fact that photographic film was typically treated to prevent abrasion, slides and negatives are easily scratched. The primary causes are dust and debris that settle on the film and get rubbed into it. This can happen over time and whenever slides and negatives are moved and handled.
Rips, tears and creases: Photos that have been stored for a long time in shoeboxes or albums can get stuck and are prone to tearing when removed from these. A photo that is not properly stored can also develop unsightly creases and folds.
These damaging effects are even more visible in old portraits that are otherwise great candidates for framing and displaying. But if you have a faded or aged photo memory that means a lot to you, it can be salvaged with advanced photo restoration skills. An experienced restoration specialist can pull off miraculous results with it – erasing blemishes and spots, smoothing out wrinkles and creases, and correcting for color shifts wherever these appear.
Here are a few incredible examples of photo restoration on some time-ravaged but otherwise wonderful portraits…