Photo Restoration | Recent Work

This is a photo of my grandmother. My grandmother was a beautiful and charming woman who could always produce a genuine smile in every picture I ever saw of her. So when I saw a picture of her with a degree of consternation on her face it registered but I could never put my finger on why. Then after inheriting the photo album I proceeded to scan them to share with my siblings. That's when I solved the subtle curiosity I had. The original picture was no bigger than a cell phone screen. When the image blew up on my 24" screen it was obvious within seconds. Her and my grandfather just had a blow out on the rear tire. She consented to a photo amidst the drama. And there you have it. Sometimes it pays to look at photos again in a larger format because due to their size and your trained focus there is so much to miss.

Every picture tells a story. Awhile back I donated some time cleaning up and printing old photographs for display at a funeral of a family friend. It came to the attention of someone there that I did the photo work. The gentleman asked if I could do something for him. Of course I could. But I didn't expect what happened next. He reached in his back pocket and took out his wallet and pulled out 2 very distressed photographs. One of his dad and a friend in younger days and another of his parents as a young couple.
He then shared with me that he has kept these pictures in his wallet for 10 years. This no doubt created all the cracks and tears in the photo. And then he just handed them to me and asked if I could fix them. Keep in mind I had only just met him and he is entrusting me with 2 photographs so special to him he has kept them in his pocket for a decade. It was the quintessential explanation of how special a photgraph can be to some one. I was more than touched and carefully tucked them into an envelope he got from the funeral director. I took them home and scanned them right away and again carefully slipped them back into the envelope and returned the originals back the next day. I worked on the photos with an additional inspiration knowing I was really restoring a most valuable treasure and it would be preserved and brought back to his first enduring look at the photograph.

A gentleman bought this unique poster at an auction recently. Although the hands of time have had it's way with it, it certainly has its place in representing a unique place in time in Harlem. Although it has the value in it's original tattered condition, it was brought to me for a restoration based on what was there. This gives an idea of what is possible in re-creation of articles that can be brought back to original condition for reference.

Imagine a time without a smart phone to grab every nuance of a moment. Imagine just having a few opportunities to photograph or be photographed in a year. Imagine, as it happened, many of those moments were captured as a blurred images. Blessed are the ones that made their way through the camera lens in focus and then through the film processing at the camera store and back home again. A challenging journey to hopefully to make their way into a shoe box or a photo album if they were lucky. Then to make it through through divorces death or a fire or losing them in any number of ways. That was the gauntlet that every photographed image traveled. Think of how special each was just to have made it this far. Then when there is a human connection that survives and makes another special place for that photo . Now that's a special picture!
Not long ago I reconnected with an old friend I hadn't seen in many years. In our conversation she lamented that she had very few pictures of her at that time. Fortunately I took a lot of pictures, not as art, but more as chronicling the times. I found this shot of her on my porch at one of our summer afternoon porch hangs with a few friends. Sometimes you can isolate a corner of a crowd shot and find a great picture.
Photo restoration used to be a very costly endeavor. With the advent of digital tools, repair and reproduction are easily in the reach of everyone. This is a photo of someone's mother that had some damage to restore and was to be duplicated and sent to family members in other parts of the country. Now everyone can enjoy this absolutely fantastic shot of their mother. Wow, what a photo!
Negative can be a positive word if it applies to a photograph long lost that somehow survived in an envelope in the form of a negative. Usually in or around the photo shoebox is a few envelopes of negatives. They are always worth a peek. Photographs were seldom duplicated and often some were given away usually to the flattered subject. There were many more reasons pictures would disappear. Pictures of old lovers or maybe a breakup could eliminate a picture or two. The category of . "that's a horrible picture of me," certainly took it's toll. But usually they just got lost or misplace. Time has a way of evaporating the past. Unlike photos, negatives were never distributed so chances are if you have the envelope you have the whole roll. So if the treasured photos are scarce see if the negatives are around it opens up a whole new world of possibilities. The adjacent photo is from a negative. Three sisters reunited once again in this otherwise lost photo.