Old photos are keepers of priceless family memories. But these paper-based mementos are also fragile and susceptible to damage. However, these effects of aging can be reversed through meticulous photo restoration and retouching.
Here are just a few benefits of getting your old photos restored and retouched:
- Preserving family history – Old photos are prized assets for family historians. They introduce us to ancestors we never had the chance to meet or know. Through clothing, background and other details, they also give us a glimpse of a different era and way of life.
- Eliminating signs of wear and damage – With age, old photos can show some damage in the form of scratches, folds, tears, fading and more. Photo restoration can help edit out these defects from the digital image and make the photo look like new again.
- Storing in digital format – Photo restoration is done on digital scans of the original image. The newly retouched image can be stored in a digital format and printed out for those who want a physical copy.
- Sharing with family and friends – A digitally restored photo is easy to share with family and friends, no matter where they are. They can save it on a device for easy retrieval or print out a physical copy to display in their homes.
- Preserving the original image – Old photos degrade with time, placing priceless memories at risk of being lost forever. Restoring and retouching helps preserve the original image as well as the memory captured in it, even as the physical photo continues to fade.
- Adding color – Old black and white photos have a special charm. In some cases, however, adding appropriate colors to a black and white image brings out its details and enhances it. When done well, colorizing an old photo in this manner can transform it.
What you should know if you want to restore your old photos
You first need to scan the photos that are candidates for restoration so that you have digital images to work with. The scanning equipment you use is very important. You need a scanner that allows you to capture the image at a very high resolution so that you can fix tiny flaws without distorting or changing the photo too much.
Decide what you will do with the original images once you are done working on their scanned versions. Even with these digital images now available, you should still preserve these original mementos. The best way to do that is to wrap them in acid-free paper, store them in an archival box and place the box in a dark, climate controlled space. It is best to have these storage materials ready before you start scanning. That way, you can put the old photos away safely once you are done.
If you are tackling this project yourself, you should invest in high quality photo restoration software with tools for performing a wide range of fixes on your photos. Depending on your familiarity with the software and the extent of repairs needed, the entire process of scanning and restoration could take anywhere from ten minutes to a few hours per photo.
The main ways in which old photos can be fixed
Depending on the damage, old photos may either be candidates for basic photo retouching or more advanced photo restoration. Here are a few ways in which they can be restored to their original condition.
- Red eye removal eliminates all instances of red eyes in a photo
- Color correction involves manipulating the photo’s colors to make it more balanced and true to life
- Nicks and scratches can be removed with appropriate photo editing tools
- Black and white photographs can be colorized to create more updated and vibrant versions of old images
- Fixing rips and tears and filling in missing photo sections calls for advanced photo restoration skills. In such cases, the image has to be rebuilt and restored at the pixel level.
The advantages of using a professional service
Many people prefer to have a professional photo restoration service do the work for them. There are several advantages to going this route:
- A service has the expertise to repair and colorize old photos. Often, a professionally restored image looks better than the original.
- They can restore old photos in just about any condition. Tears, scratches, and fading disappear in their hands.
- They have the equipment and know how to scan old photos at optimal resolution levels. This allows for more complete restoration and better results overall.
- They offer the best way to scan lots of photos. Trying to scan hundreds of photos and then work on restoring and retouching them individually can be a very time-consuming and frustrating exercise.
- They know the tricks of restoring an image without compromising the photo’s subjects or background.
- They can restore photo color in faded prints. Fading removes some of the pigments from the photo, whether it’s black and white or color. Restoration brings this color back.
Clearly, there are several compelling reasons to outsource your photo scanning and restoration to the professionals. You can get quality results without investing a lot of time and effort into the project. All you have to do is ship your photos to them and sit back while they work their magic on them.