How much work goes into a photo restoration

Ed. Can you explain the cost of a photo restoration?

Neil. Certainly, but don’t think of it as cost, think of it as an investment. You are preserving your memories. Price should be a concern, yes, but not the primary one. You have made the decision that your photo needs restoring, so I am here to help you transform it.

Ed. But don’t you just hit the “filter” button and it’s all done?

Neil. No absolutely not. Take a closer look at the image you are sending me to restore and be honest with yourself. There may be an obvious big rip or scratch, but look closer. Is the surface of the emulsion all scratched and dull? Is there a spider’s web of fine scratches embedded in the emulsion filled with fine dirt? If so then I have to remove these as well.

Ed. I can barely see the fine scratches why does it matter?

Neil. If I ignore them It may be ok to print to a typical 6×4 inch sized postcard as you wouldn’t see them. If you wanted me to make an enlargement then the fine scratches would also be enlarged. You would then have to pay a second time to have them restored and removed.

Ed. Fair point, but how do I know you have done anything at all other than remove the rip or tear?

Neil. I restore what damage there is, you may not appreciate it at first but just compare the original to the restored image. If it’s a digital file you can compare the before and after. You will see how there are subtle differences in the tones, the shadows are richer and the highlights stand out more, edges are more defined, its punchier and less flat than it was. Nearly all of the flecks of dust, scratches, stains and faded tones are restored.

Ed. Nearly all?

Neil. Yes, sometimes if the image is overworked it can look “restored”. This is not what I am about, I don’t airbrush back in areas like some restorers. I tend to use the tone and textures from what’s there and restore it. I simply cannot bare the mix of badly matched, soft smooth-toned backgrounds and the gritty texture of an original photo, it just doesn’t work and certainly does not look natural.

Ed. It sounds like you are very passionate about your work, will you take on anything?

Neil. I will be honest, in some instances there is not much that can be done. I will always discuss beforehand what can be achieved and what expectation can be met. Sometimes it maybe that there is very little detail there to start with and all there is to do is a simple clean up and try to recover some tone and contrast. Others can require a complete rebuild of the lighting. By this I mean where there was very little tone to add back in light and shade, to give the feeling of depth. This doesn’t work for all images but most can be rescued.

Ed. I’ve heard that some people provide inkjet prints, do you do that?

Neil. No, heaven forbid no. I appreciate that there are some very good inkjet printers, but I am old fashioned I guess and trust the tried and tested chemical colour process. Your photos will be printed on Fuji Crystal Archive paper for 100 year fade resistance, or so the manufacturers claim.

Ed. That’s reassuring. Thank you for explaining.

Neil. You’re very welcome.

To find out more see the blog post How much does photo restoration cost?

Restoring photos in your local Shire