Photo Restoration is a multi-step process that attempts to repair and recover aging or damaged photographs. Using high-resolution reproduction methods and advanced manual and digital restoration techniques, it's possible to reduce or remove many forms of damage to your photographs.
Special photographs become cherished family heirlooms, but they don't last forever! Over time, photos become faded and dull, change colour, and get accidentally torn, cracked, or stained.
Damage can be caused by aging of the materials, exposure to sun, moisture or air, fire/heat, cracks, rips or oil stains from handling, liquid spills, acids from non-archival pens, tape or albums, improper developing processes, among other things. When this occurs, measures must be taken to repair the damage as soon as possible. Leaving the issues unaddressed will result in continued deterioration of the original, making it more and more difficult to recover with time.
Your damaged photos are not yet lost forever! Our photo restoration service makes it possible to repair most deterioration and damage. It's even possible to remove unwanted objects or people, or to add people into photos.
Here are a few things that can be done with our Photo Restoration Service:
Remove cracks, tears and holes
Remove mold and chemical stains
Remove stains and spots from dirt, oils, pens, liquids or food
Recover faded details, or areas that are too bright or too dark
Stitch together ripped or torn photos (digitally)
Repair fire, smoke and heat damage
Repair flood damage
Similar techniques can be used for other editing services we offer, for example:
Remove unwanted objects or people
Add people into photos
Swap faces from another photo (was someone blinking?)
Remove watermarks from school photos (proof of copyright release granting permission must be obtained)
Colourize a black and white photo
Much more - we regularly get special requests - let us know what you're looking for!
It's not too late to recover your priceless photographs. Contact us for a free custom quote today.
Still have questions? Scroll down to review common Q&A's in our FAQ section!
Due to extreme variances in complexity, type/extent of damage, and customer requests, all photo restorations present unique degrees of difficulty and time requirements. Because of this, total cost can vary greatly. To give you a general idea, pricing is based on an hourly rate of $50/hour, with a minimum cost of $20. To get a free estimate for your photo, click here.
What types of images can I submit?
You can submit almost any type of image in any state. We can work from individual prints, slides and negatives -- including unusual formats and large sizes -- as well as prints that are stuck in frames, albums or on backing materials. We also accept digital files, however please contact us to discuss the best methods for digitizing and/or submitting your image electronically. If you have any other type of image or material don't hesitate to inquire, as many things are possible!
Do I get my original(s) back?
Yes! In fact, in almost all cases, little or no work is actually done on your original photo. Your original is gently cleaned and scanned to a digital file on a computer where the real work begins. Your original will be returned to you along with your restored copy.
Will my original be altered in any way?
Your original, handled with care, is scanned to a digital file first and all restoration work is performed on the copy. The only action performed on the original, if needed, is a gentle cleaning prior to the scan.
My photo is in a frame, behind glass. Can I still get it restored?
Yes! In most cases, the photo should indeed be removed from the frame first in order to scan it. If you are not comfortable doing this, we can offer a service to remove the photo from the frame, and in most cases can re-insert the original OR the new restored copy back into the frame.
If removing the photo from the frame is simply NOT an option, specialized photographic techniques are used as an alternative method to produce a digital copy.
My original is very fragile... Is it safe to scan it?
Your originals are considered priceless and are treated as such. They are handled as minimally as possible, with great care taken not to exacerbate any existing damage. There is some handling in the scanning (digitizing) process, however, so even with the most gentle care, items that are extremely fragile pose some risk. Normally, any additional minor defects that occur during scanning can be repaired digitally.
In extreme cases, your original can be photographed instead of scanned. This method is more costly, but usually requires less handling. If you are concerned about the risks for a particular piece, we are happy to discuss your options and find the best and safest method.
I scanned the original myself. Can I just email it to you?
It is strongly advised that you provide us with the "most" original copy of the image (ie: oldest known version). This usually means submitting the original, physical print or negative. We use high quality equipment to scan your images at high resolution for the best possible quality and detail. Using entry level or document scanners and/or improper settings or techniques can result in sub-par quality and loss of detail and pixel information - information that is absolutely critical in restoring an image to its best possible state.
Email and some other file sharing methods may also compress the image, losing important data in transmission.
If you are unable to provide a physical copy, contact us to discuss arrangements for producing and submitting the best digital copy possible.
I don't have the original. I just have a copy, of a copy, of a copy. Is this good enough?
The short answer is: YES! If no other options are available, we can absolutely work from the best copy you have. The long answer is...
Keep in mind that every time a copy is made, some detail is lost; A copy, of a copy, of a copy, then, has lost information 3 times over, more significantly each time with less information available than the last - this loss is even more significant when the best possible copying methods were not always used. With this in mind, it is ALWAYS best to submit the "most original" copy you can get your hands on.
However, we understand that it is sometimes not possible to gain access to an original - it belongs to an estranged cousin overseas, or it's simply been lost over the years. In this case, we can absolutely work from the copy you have. In other cases, you may have options:
Below are some common situations, and possible solutions to help track down the best copy to work from:
"My sister gave me a copy of a print from her album" - If your family member lives close enough, ask them if you can borrow the original print for a few days, ensuring them it will be returned in good condition.
"My dad gave me a copy he printed from his computer" - In this case, the file on his computer is actually "more original" than your print. Ask him for the file on a usb stick, memory card or to send it online using a non-destructive file sharing website like Dropbox -- Better yet, ask him how the picture got onto his computer in the first place - maybe he can track down an even "more original" physical copy that he scanned to his computer.
"My cousin overseas emailed me the photo" - If your family/friend doesn't live close by, see if they would be willing to get it scanned by a local professional at a high-resolution (900-1800dpi for prints) and send you the file (on a USB stick, memory card or non-destructive online method such as Dropbox). You could even offer to pay for the scan and/or send them a copy of the restored image in return.
"My friend took a picture of the picture on their phone and sent it to me" - This is usually not a very good option in terms of quality. Again, see if they would either lend you the original or have it properly scanned and sent to you using the above methods.
"I found this photo on a website such as ancestry.com" - Firstly, ensure there are no copyright restrictions on the image. If there is any way to contact the person who posted the image, consider doing so to ask if they can provide you with a better digital copy (not compressed by the web), using a file sharing website like Dropbox, or at the very least email it to you (with email settings to optimize quality of the attachment). If you can't do this, we may be able to work from the file you obtained online.
My family photos were almost destroyed in a house fire. What should I do?
A fire in your home is devastating. Many things can't be recovered and your photos are one of few things that can't be replaced. When photos are exposed to smoke and extreme heat, they shrink and warp, the surface bubbles and they begin to burn. Photos that are in frames or albums can be even more difficult to recover, as the image can become stuck to the glass or pages, and the soot deposited can continue to cause further damage as time passes, as it contains acids and other contaminants from the fire's smoke.
If you don't have time to deal with documenting, organizing and submitting your recovered photographs immediately, you can put them in the freezer to help minimize further damage from exposure, until you are able to address it. When you're ready, you should follow these steps:
1. Photograph and document the damage for insurance purposes. Some insurance policies may help cover the cost of restoring your photographs.
2. To help reduce the damaging effects and to minimize cost, remove any photos from frames and albums that are easy to do so. NOTE: If you are uncomfortable doing this or if any photos are stuck and too difficult to remove without damaging them, leave them be. We have some methods that can make extraction easier, or can use alternative restoration approaches.
3. Contact us to arrange a drop off time and consultation so we can begin the restoration process as soon as possible. Time is of the essence.
I want to remove the copyright message or studio branding from the front of a photo. Can you do this?
This is sometimes possible, however we must adhere to and abide by applicable copyright laws and cannot legally copy any currently copyrighted material without permission from the original creator. We recommend that you attempt to contact the creator of the image and discuss options to purchase or otherwise obtain the un-watermarked image from them. In some cases (such as school portraits), if the company no longer has the photos in their archives, they may provide you with a written release, granting you permission to duplicate the image and thus allowing the watermark to be removed. Please contact us for more information on this topic.